Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Amy's Trip to Houzz in California

Houzz Visit Image 1


I met with our Account Representative, Jennifer Luna, on August 11, in the Irvine, CA office.  We discussed our Pro Minute Video, and different ways to use Houzz to help our customers generate ideas and inspiration. 


Houzz, which was founded in 2009, is a website and online community devoted to interior design, architecture, home improvement, and landscape design. The Houzz platform and mobile apps feature product recommendations, photos articles and a user forum.

 

Jennifer and I looked at different tools within the Houzz app to help our potential customers and clients come up with ideas and inspirations, and also to aid you in better communicating to Tight Line Exteriors the end product that you desire, “their dream remodel project.”  We looked at using Ideabooks to collect pictures, from Houzz's vast number (18 million and growing) of beautiful completed project pictures, additional pictures from the internet, articles and scanned sketches of proposed drawings.

 

We also reviewed the new tool, Sketch, in the Houzz app.   This tool was released at the beginning of 2016, and is a completely new function in the Houzz app that makes it even easier to communicate using photos and to add products from the Houzz Shop, to any photo of your own.  With Sketch you can write, type or draw directly on photos, whether to circle a design feature that inspires, note the dimensions of an outdoor porch or room, make notes, sketch where you envision adding a new lighting fixture and more. 

 

I find these tools so helpful in communicating with you, the customer, and making sure that we share the same vision.  With all of the Houzz pictures available, you will be able to come up with different looks that can be adapted to your home. This insures that you get the beautiful remodel you dreamed of, and gives us the opportunity as your trusted resource to help you achieve your dream.


Houzz Visit Image 2


Houzz Visit Image 3


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Monday, August 22, 2016

Is Blue Nile Hurting Your Engagement Ring Business?

If you are a brick and mortar jewelry store, is Blue Nile hurting your diamond engagement ring business?  Would you like to know about the BlueNile.com strategy, what they are doing, how much money they are spending, where they are advertising and what you should do about it to save your business?  If so, then this blog post is for you because I am about to pull the curtain back so you can see why and how BlueNile.com is hurting your business.


1) Who is Blue Nile, Inc.?


Much of the information provided in this section comes from the BlueNile.com 10K report found at http://investor.bluenile.com/sec.cfm  They are publicly traded on the Nasdaq as NILE.


As of January 3, 2016, they employed 335 full-time employees and 17 part-time employees and stated “We believe that we will influence the shift to purchasing jewelry online by providing more compelling reasons to buy from us through enhancements in the online user experience”.


Blue Nile 10K report


2) Their Competitive Advantage


If you have inventory in your store, BlueNile.com has a competitive advantage  in that their “exclusive diamond supplier relationships allow us to display suppliers' diamond inventories on the Blue Nile website for sale to consumers without holding the diamonds in our inventory until the products are ordered by customers.”


The report further states:  “We generally purchase diamonds on a “just in time” basis from our suppliers when a customer places an order for a specific diamond. We then assemble the diamond with a ring, pendant or earring setting from our inventory into customized diamond jewelry according to our customer's specifications. The finished jewelry is delivered to the customer generally within three to seven business days from the order date and within one business day for diamonds held on consignment in our fulfillment facilities.”


If a customer is in a hurry, three to seven business days may be too long to wait and the advantage may shift back to the brick and mortar retailer.  But if the customer has plenty of time to plan the proposal, three to seven days may not be an issue.


3) What is Their Target Category?


BlueNile publicly states:  “Our merchandise consists of engagement and non-engagement products. The engagement product category includes gold or platinum engagement rings with a diamond center stone and loose diamonds. Our non-engagement product category includes rings, wedding bands, earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, gifts and accessories containing precious metals, diamonds, gemstones, or pearls. Our core business is the engagement category.”  If you're engagement ring sales have slowed over the last year, it could be because BlueNile.com is attracting and engaging (no pun intended) your prospects before they walk into your store.


For the engagement ring market, the primary demographic is 25-35 years old and about 55% male.  In our informal survey, the sales funnel nearly always consisted of Pinterest (do you have Pinterest account?), sometimes Facebook and nearly always Google.


4)  Who Does BlueNile.com See as Competitors?


While BlueNile.com correctly identifies a number of possible competitors, at the top of the list is independent jewelry stores.  They may be as as worried about you as you are of them.  If I were BlueNile.com, I would be concerned that brick and mortar retailers would make some kind of counter-move to woo potential engagement ring customers into the local stores where the rings and diamonds can be seen, touched and sized before the prospect logs onto the bluenile.com website.


5)  What Are the Threats to Their Business?


In the 10K report, bluenile.com lists the following as threats to their business:



  • Concerns about buying luxury products such as diamonds and fine jewelry online without a physical storefront, face-to-face

    interaction with sales personnel and the ability to physically handle and examine products;

  • Delivery time associated with Internet orders;

  • If Google changes its algorithms or if competition increases for advertisements on Google, we may be unable to cost-effectively drive qualified consumers to our website.


While these are some legitimate concerns, they have still enjoyed success and have made a huge impact on the American market for engagement rings.  In their drive to capture more market share, the Cost Per Click in Google adwords has increase signifcantly in the last 24 months, and as other online retailers enter the market, such as www.jamesallen.com, the cost will continue to increase.  This may be a “last man standing” contest similar to what we saw when Amazon first entered the market.


6) How Big Is Blue Nile?

Net sales in the U.S. increased by 1.5% to $398.2 million for the fiscal year ended January 3, 2016 compared with $392.4 million for the fiscal year ended January 4, 2015 . http://investor.bluenile.com/sec.cfm.  That's a big number, nearly $400 million.


7) How Much Does Blue Nile Spend on Marketing?


blue nile monthly adwords spend


Marketing expenses for the fiscal years ended January 3, 2016, January 4, 2015 and December 29, 2013 was approximately $27.1 million, $25.0 million and $24.3 million, respectively. With a marketing budget of $25 million for print, radio, paid online ads and organinc search engine rankings. So in 2016, their budget was about $2.25 million per month.  You can see from the chart above, which is from SEMRush.com, BlueNile.com is getting about 100,000 visitors per month.


8) What is Their Marketing Strategy?


BlueNile.com has started as a pure online retailer, but they have opened a couple of physical locations.  Their main online strategies include search engine optimization, online videos, online display advertising, affiliate programs, direct online marketing, e-mail marketing, social networking/advertising and public relations.


9) BlueNile.com Target Cities


What cities is BlueNile.com targeting with search engine optimization (SEO)?  The sitemap on their website shows they are targeting 10 cities with SEO.  Here is a screenshot of their site map found at http://www.bluenile.com/sitemap.


blue nile sitemap


As you can see, the top geo-targetd keywords are?


Atlanta Engagement Rings


Boston Engagement Rings


Chicago Engagement Rings


Dallas Engagement Rings


Houston Engagement Rings


Los Angeles Engagement Rings


New York Engagement Rings


Philadelphia Engagement Rings


San Francisco Engagement Rings


Washington, D.C. Engagement Rings


So if you're in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco or Washington, DC, BlueNile.com is coming after your business by getting ranked for your “city + engagement rings”.


When clicking over the page itself, the on-page optimization is very apparent.  Even though BlueNile does not have a physical presence in any of these cities (as of the writing of this blog post), they are trying to show up in the local search results ahead of the local retailers, and then drive the visitors to their main shopping pages.  If BlueNile is showing before the local brick and mortar diamond stores, they may be capturing visitors that would have otherwise visited a local store.


blue nile on page seo for local business


on page seo blue nile


philadelphie strategy by bluenile.com


 


10)  Going Mobile


BlueNile.com offers a great mobile experience.  How is the user experience on the mobile version of your website?  If it's not up to the standards of a user who is mostly on their smart phone, age 25-35, then the mobile version of your website may have a high bounce rate… and those users may bounce over to BlueNile.com


11) What Should You Do?


BlueNile.com has a very large budget for paid ads and the CPC continues to increase.  With the CPC getting into the $10-12 ranges, how many clicks can you afford?  And those are just clicks.  BlueNile.com has a whole staff of progammers optimizing the user experience to maximize the conversion rate of those clicks.  If you do not know your conversion rate in terms of phone calls, contact form submittals or walk-ins, Adwords can get very expensive.


Here is a basic strategy to combat the big online retailers:


Optimize your site for Google Maps and Local Search.  To compete with BlueNile.com and JamesAllen.com, local retailers must come up first in the local search results, especially Google Maps.  While many in the 25-35 target demographic look to websites like Pinterest to get ideas and inspiration, they nearly always go to Google to find either local or online retailers.


google maps optimization


Get ranked in the top 3 for Google Maps in your city so you show up in the local maps results.  While there are a lot of elements to this, having a complete Google My Business page is a good start.


Review the mobile experience.  Up to 70% of users will be on smart phones, so if your site does not provide an excepetional user experience on mobile, visitors will click off your site.  Do you know about AMP (accelerated mobile pages)?


Set up your sales funnel for your target demographic, including:



  • Pinterest

  • Facebook

  • Google


Optimize for conversions to drive prospects to contact you or visit your store.  Most local diamond stores do not have an ecommerce site like BlueNile.com, and that is perfectly fine.  BlueNile.com is set up as a shopping experience, whereas your site should entice propsects to contact you and visit your store.  Optimizing a site for conversions is critical because there is not use driving visitors to your site if they are not impressed enough to call you, fill out a form, schedule an appointment or visit.


Measure results in several ways:



  • Google Analytics is a free tool from Google you can install on your site to measure visitors to your site and the source, such as organic search traffic, social media sites, direct traffic and paid traffic, such as Google Adwords.

  • Call tracking is critical to measuring conversions.  Some prospects will drive directly to your store, some will fill out a web form and some will call.  Set up separate call tracking numbers for Adwords if you are running paid ads, print ads or doing other advertising.  That way you can tell how many calls you are getting from each source and determine the best place to spend your money.  We like making decisions on data, not guesswork.

  • Keyword ranking is another key metric to track.  While ranking for a particular keyword or set of keywords does not necessarily translate into more business, ranking for the right keywords usually has a direct correlation to visitors to a website and it is easy to measure progress in moving up the search engines to the top of page 1.  There are a number of free or cheap tools you can use, such as SERPS.com or SEMRush.com.

  • Website form completion, such as a “Contact Us” or “Schedule An Appointment” form.


Make adjustments based on data:



  • If your keyword ranking is not improving, check your site using a SEO Audit Tool to help diagnose problems with your site.  Also check Google Webmaster Tools for messages and warnings about broken links, etc.  We have found clients had their site set to “no index”, which is an obvious problem.

  • Check your bounce rate in Google Analytics.  Very low bounce rates are below 30%, but if your bounce rate is much more than 50%, users are not have a good experience on your site and are leaving after a single page visit.  This goes back to Optimizing for Conversions.  Make changes and then see how the bounce rate is affected.


measure your bounce rate


Fair Warning:  We are often contacted byy companies who hired a SEO agency or individual to get their site ranked for a certain keyword, but the site does not get ranked because all the links are built with the same anchor text.  So beware of agencies that simply outsource the link building (although they may not tell you that is what they are doing) and have no idea what is really being done.  If you end up with a bad backlink profile, your site may never make it past page two and you may end up submitting multiple “disavow” files to Google Webmaster Tools (now called the Search Console) and finally creating a new site on a new domain.


Unless you have deep enough pockets to keep up with the cost of competing with BlueNile.com and JamesAllen.com in Google Adwords, the best long term strategy is to be ranked as one of the top 3 businesses for “engagement rings” in your target market, such as Philadelphia, Houston, Chicago, Boston, or any one of the cities targeted by BlueNile. As you are making your way to the top of Google, be sure to measure your results and make adjustments.


If you would like to discuss how to successfully attract and engage new clients online, and have a stready flow of new customers on auto-pilot, contact us, call us at 678-520-9925 or schedule a no-obligation 15 minute consutation on my calendar.


 


 


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Monday, June 27, 2016

eQuorum Announces Release of ImageSite 9.4

Atlanta, GA,  June 27, 2016 eQuorum Corporation announces major new features in Version 9.4 of ImageSite, its flagship, comprehensive, yet affordable Document Management Solution for manufacturers, architects and engineers, utilities, universities and government. Version 9.4 will be available to customers … Continue reading


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Friday, May 27, 2016

Siding Installation in Lawrenceville

The siding on a house plays a crucial role. Siding, just like insulation helps in shielding your home and providing insulation from harsh weather elements. Insulation keeps the area between the walls and itself free from dirt, moisture, and all insects. All year long, moisture is a big concern, and hence the need to make sure that it does not get trapped inside the walls as it could cause mildew and mold. Siding installation in Lawrenceville helps in keeping out the debris and the water from entering the walls and insulation of your residence, thus reducing the chances of moisture building up within the walls.


What is Siding Installation?


The primary role of siding in your home is to protect it, together with the foundation, and its contents. Siding protects your house from wind, snow, rain and any other strong weather elements present in your area. During the cold season, a properly installed siding can help protect your home interior from the cold weather present in the exteriors.

It also helps in retaining the heat generated inside your house, thereby ensuring that you get to remain comfortable and warm during the cold winter months. Another role played by siding is the beautification of your home. Given that siding takes up the majority of the available outer surface, the attractiveness provides added appeal to any homeowner.


Damage Caused by Poor Siding


When your siding starts to fall off, there is the likelihood that water will find a way into your home frames. Once moisture gets trapped in the structures, it leads to rotting, interior damage and the growth of mold. If not controlled, it can result in significant problems down the road.  Installing siding also helps acts as a shield from extreme weather conditions and insects. Installing siding and replacement windows in Lawrenceville also helps in making sure that the home interior is protected as well, thus making sure that the infrastructure is protected as well.


Signs That New Siding Installation in Lawrenceville May Be Needed


As a property owner, there are indicators you can look for to confirm whether new siding or replacement windows in Lawrenceville are needed in your home. If warping is present in the existing siding, you will need to have it replaced. You may also notice that siding has started to pull away or bend from the wall surface. It is an indication that rainwater and moisture have begun to get underneath the existing siding, and is causing damage. If you feel the length of your siding and notice places that quickly give in, it means that you have soft spots. It is an indication that there are rotting boards beneath the siding, and you should, therefore, call in a siding installation in Lawrenceville contractor as soon as possible.


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Monday, April 25, 2016

Add Value to Your Home with New Siding

siding installation lawrenceville gaAre you considering putting your home on the market? Are you searching for ways to increase value without wasting precious time or spending too much money? Are you looking to improve the quality of your home without the intention to sell, but want to know that the upgrade you choose will raise your future sell price? Consider new siding with Tight Line Exteriors, the siding installation company of choice in Lawrenceville!


New Siding Improves Curb Appeal


The impression your home radiates from the curb has an immense bearing on its value. A buyer's first impression will always be what they see as they pull toward the lot, regardless of the beautiful fixtures you've installed or the large bedrooms you are offering. If you want to get a buyer inside of your home, the outside of your home has to speak of quality. The professionals at Tight Line Exteriors will improve the curb appeal of your home with siding installation in Lawrenceville and surrounding cities.


New Siding Increases Energy Efficiency


When new siding is installed, a new layer of insulation is put in place. Insulation keeps the temperature of your home from escaping through the outer walls while also keeping the heat or cool of the outdoors from reaching the inside. This inevitably brings down heating and air costs dramatically. With lower energy costs comes higher home value.


Siding Installation in Lawrenceville Is Faster and More Affordable Than Other Home Improvement Projects


Many homeowners consider installing an extra bathroom or remodeling a kitchen. While these projects may increase the value of your home, they will also cost you far more in labor and materials, which is calculated as two separate estimated costs, and will require more time for project completion. With siding installation, you receive one quote that includes labor and materials so you know what you will spend. Unlike other home improvement projects, most siding jobs can be completed in two weeks and financing is available for siding installation.


In conclusion, it's easy to see how new siding can improve not only the value, but the look, feel and quality of your home. Tight Line Exteriors has helped thousands of homeowners increase their home's value with new siding installation and we are ready to help you do the same! Tight Line Exteriors has partnered with James Hardy Siding and offers only the highest quality products to pair with the excellent customer satisfaction you are guaranteed to experience.


Reach out to Tight Line Exteriors, the company offering the finest siding installation in Lawrenceville, and let us help you add value to your home!


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Friday, April 22, 2016

Car Accident Case Study Under Georgia Law

Defendant crossed over several lanes of interstate traffic and struck my client's vehicle, causing it to roll over four (4) times. After multiple surgeries to her dominant hand, my client has over $600,000 in medical bills and lost her job. The at-fault driver claims one of the tires suddenly blew out causing her to lose control. The at-fault driver carried only $25,000 of applicable insurance. Since there were no assets over insurance limits, my client offered to settle with the at-fault driver for her $25,000 of insurance, despite the largely inadequate recovery for her injuries. However, the at-fault driver's insurance company ignored essential terms of my client's offer to settle and decided they would call the shots and do it their way.


 


What Is The Law In Georiga?

Under Georgia law, when an insurer fails to properly pay policy limits on a claim that is clearly worth more than policy limits, claims for bad faith can arise. If bad faith can be proven, it can mean that an entire verdict will get paid by the at-fault driver's insurance regardless of the insurance limits. Here, it could mean s fair recovery for my client's injuries. Since the at-fault driver's insurance company decided they wanted to dictate the terms of settlement, we rejected their offer and filed suit. It was funny that, after their initial attempt to control the settlement, a claims adjuster and her manager showed up personally at my office to try to deliver a $25,000 check. It was rejected, again.


Preserving Evidence

When we were hired about three (3) weeks after the wreck, we immediately notified the at-fault driver and her insurance company that the car and its tires must be preserved. Despite several subsequent letters again telling them to preserve the car and its tires, the at-fault driver's insurance company gave orders to the storage facility to get rid of the car. And that is what happened. The most important piece of evidence was destroyed before anyone could have an expert do proper testing on the tire to determine the real cause of its failure. Driver error and poor maintenance, both of which are the driver's fault, not just manufacturing defects, cause tire failure.


Fighting Insurance Companies

The insurance company took away the only opportunity for us to defend against their unfounded argument that the tire was just defective. They claim the destruction of evidence was inadvertent. We were not so sure, so we filed a motion asking the judge to punish them for their actions. The judge agreed that the other side was on proper notice to preserve the car, but that they failed to do so; they destroyed material evidence. Therefore, the judge will not allow them to argue that a tire defect caused the wreck, essentially stripping them of their case because they tried to strip my client of her case.


Compensation You Deserve

If this case doesn't settle prior to court, we will be asking a jury for an amount that well, will make the at-fault driver's insurance company wish they would have settled.

It is tenacious dedication that wins car accident cases. It is tenacious dedication that teaches insurance companies they cannot squeeze out the little guy. If later confidentiality doesn't prohibit it, I will update this post to let everyone know the final outcome.


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