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Using Internal Data for New Products, New Customers




An ecommerce company's internal data — site-search queries, customer feedback, geographic concentration, more — can identify opportunities for new products and new customers.

An ecommerce company’s internal data — site-search queries, customer feedback, geographic concentration, more — can identify opportunities for new products and new customers.

Ecommerce merchants miss opportunities by not utilizing their data. New products, new customers, upsells, cross-sells — internal data can provide insights on all of them.

In this post, I’ll address data sources and strategies to help merchants grow their business.

New Products

Site search is the gold mine for any online store: actual site visitors who are searching for a specific product or category. For example, if multiple consumers searched for “orange vase” and you do not carry that item, you may wish to source it.

A hurdle to analyzing site-search queries is the heavy volume on many ecommerce sites. To overcome, consider classifying the search terms into product types and descriptions. For example, using the contain query, “orange vase” could be classified as “product type = vase” and “color = orange.”

Another way to decrease the volume is to filter successful searches, those that resulted in the correct products, or with the searcher making a purchase. You could also exclude bogus search terms such as URLs, which are often from bots.

Combining search words can be helpful, too, to identify trends. Multiple searches for “orange vase,” “orange décor,” and “orange accent” might indicate a potential cross-sell opportunity around the color orange or even a new category.

For advanced retailers, machine learning such as text mining can uncover gaps in product offerings. Smaller merchants could manually review and classify the data weekly, perhaps using an intern.

Filters. Filter analytics, if available, can reveal opportunities. If shoppers repeatedly select the same filters for a product — such as color, size, and type — and receive no search results, a merchant may consider adding that item. Perhaps the initial search term is “orange vase” and the filters are “hand-made” and “large.” If that combination produces no search results, the merchant could add to its inventory large, hand-made, orange vases.

Customer comments. Monitor customer reviews, feedback to your support staff, and discussions on social media. You’ll likely find ideas for new products. For example, a customer may post on Instagram, “Just got this cute purple top from XYZ store. Wish it came in green.” If enough customers posted similar desires, you could consider adding the item in green.

The problem with customer feedback on different channels is, like site search, the volume. It often requires a social-media-monitoring staff and even machine learning to identify broad opportunities and not isolated requests from, say, a single consumer. One workaround is to look for general trends. Spending 30 minutes per week reading reviews or social media posts can usually be enough to gauge market sentiments.

New Customers

Internal data can also help ecommerce companies attract new customers. Consider the following strategies.

Geography. Eighty-percent of your customers might reside in a particular state, region, or country. But merchants in 2020 can sell and ship globally. One way to identify customer acquisition strategies is to look at your website traffic to identify locations that produce traffic but few sales. You could test those regions — perhaps in local marketplaces — to monitor demand, to determine if it’s worth localizing your ecommerce site for those consumers.

Demographics. Demographic and even psychographic (opinions, attitudes) data is available on Google Analytics or by appending to customers’ names and addresses specific info from providers such as Experian or Melissa. The process could identify promising age groups, gender, education level, and so on.

For example, a sporting goods retailer may find that most buyers of tennis racquets are women age 35 to 55 who own their homes. Armed with that insight, the retailer could target women in that age group and home-ownership status. (The retailer could also use the data to cross-sell complementary products to existing customers.)

Marketing channels. New marketing channels can also attract customers. A merchant that has relied on Google Ads could test Instagram influencers or even direct physical mail. The test could uncover not only new customers but also more efficient marketing spend. To discover the new channels, look for third-party benchmarking by channel on cost per acquisition for your product type or demographics.



R&D Roundup: Tech giants unveil breakthroughs at computer vision summit




Computer vision summit CVPR has just (virtually) taken place, and like other CV-focused conferences, there are quite a few interesting papers. More than I could possibly write up individually, in fact, so I’ve collected the most promising ones from major companies here.

Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft all shared papers at the conference — and others too, I’m sure — but I’m sticking to the big hitters for this column. (If you’re interested in the papers deemed most meritorious by attendees and judges, the nominees and awards are listed here.)


Redmond has the most interesting papers this year, in my opinion, because they cover several nonobvious real-life needs.

One is documenting that shoebox we or perhaps our parents filled with old 3x5s and other film photos. Of course there are services that help with this already, but if photos are creased, torn, or otherwise damaged, you generally just get a high-resolution scan of that damage. Microsoft has created a system to automatically repair such photos, and the results look mighty good.

Image Credits: Google

The problem is as much identifying the types of degradation a photo suffers from as it is fixing them. The solution is simple, write the authors: “We propose a novel triplet domain translation network by leveraging real photos along with massive synthetic image pairs.” Amazing no one tried it before!


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SEO How-to, Part 6: Optimizing On-page Elements




Keyword research can help improve your organic search performance. Search engines attempt to sync the words and intent of consumers’ queries with web pages. Ecommerce merchants should therefore align their pages using the right keywords to convey the proper intent.

This post is the sixth installment in my “SEO How-to” series, following:

Body copy is important. But the title tag is still the most critical SEO element on a page. To be sure, it’s not enough to simply optimize the title tag without the other items. All of those elements — the meta description, heading tags, keywords in the URL, and alternative attributes on image tags — should sing the same keyword theme.

SEO Elements

It’s helpful to know what each of these content optimization elements looks like in the code of a web page. Consider the screenshot, below.

  • Blue highlights the title tag (“Purchase Quilting Fabric…”).
  • Yellow highlights the meta description (“Shop thousands of bolts…”).
  • Grey highlights the meta keywords (“fabric by the yard, cheap fabric by the yard…”).
  • Green highlights the H1 heading (“Fabric by the Yard”).
  • Purple highlights the body copy (“With thousands of bolts…”).
Important SEO elements in code include the title tag ("Purchase Quilting Fabric…”), the meta description ("Shop thousands of bolts…”), meta keywords ("fabric by the yard, cheap fabric by the yard…”), an H1 heading ("Fabric by the Yard”), and body copy ("With thousands of bolts...").

Essential SEO elements in code include the title tag (“Purchase Quilting Fabric…”), the meta description (“Shop thousands of bolts…”), meta keywords (“fabric by the yard, cheap fabric by the yard…”), an H1 heading (“Fabric by the Yard”), and body copy (“With thousands of bolts…”).

And here’s how that page looks on the frontend. I’ve highlighted the title tag in blue, the H1 heading in green, and the body copy in purple.

Key SEO elements that are visual on the frontend include the title tag (blue), the H1 heading (green), and the body copy (purple).

Key SEO elements that are visual on the frontend include the title tag (blue), the H1 heading (green), and the body copy (purple).

Each content element comes with its own guidelines for optimization. Most content management systems allow you to modify these elements, though they may call them by different names.

Title Tags

Title tags remain the most important on-page factor.

Google limits title tags in search results to 60 characters. Thus try to restrict your title tags to 60 characters and place the most relevant keywords at the front.  Don’t panic if you go over by a character or two. Product names and blog post titles tend to create longer title tags.

You won’t be penalized for longer title tags unless you stuff them full of unnatural keywords. The portion after 60 characters simply won’t show.

The title tag often appears as the blue text link in your search result listing, as shown below. Search engines use the title tag — or some version of it — to introduce searchers to your content. Thus the tag should appeal to searchers as well as search engines.

The title tag often appears as the blue text link in your search result listing. This example listing also includes the meta description.

The title tag often appears as the blue text link in your search result listing. This example listing also includes the meta description.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions impact a searcher’s click decision but not rankings. Search engines may choose to use them as the black descriptive text below the blue link in a search result.

Limit meta descriptions to 160 characters — enough to populate two lines in a desktop search results page. Some informational searches can merit a third or even fourth line, especially when Google can provide the answer directly in the search results page as a rich snippet. In these cases, the search engine may pull text from the body copy or a field of structured data.

Always provide a unique meta description that describes the page and ends in a call to action. Be sure to use the targeted keyword theme. Search engines place in bold type the words that match the searcher’s query.

Meta Keywords

Leave this field blank. Do not use it. No major U.S. search engine has used meta keywords in its ranking algorithm since 2009. (The Chinese search engine, Baidu, does use meta keywords, however.) Inserting meta keywords gives your competitors an easy way to identify what you’re trying to rank for.

Keyword URLs

Place keywords in URLs if your content management system or ecommerce platform allows it. But do so wisely. Set the URL once — when the page goes live — incorporating the most relevant keyword for that page. Do not change it again unless the content on the page changes so radically that you’re forced to.

For example, do not change the keywords in the URL every time you optimize the page. URLs are like street addresses, and search engines are like the post office. Every time you change your street address, some of your mail — your search performance — goes missing. It may find you again eventually if you have 301 redirects in place. But then again, it may not. Don’t risk your natural search performance by changing your URLs unnecessarily.

Heading Tags

Headings (such as H1, H2, H3) help readers and search engines alike. At times, it’s hard for the two functions to coexist.

For optimal search optimization, a heading tag should use the same keyword theme as the other elements (title tags, meta descriptions, body copy), which can result in a longer phrase. However, editors and marketers tend to prefer short headings for reading and comprehension. (For example, “Heading Tags,” above, is an H3 header. Practical Ecommerce prefers shorter headings, even though longer ones, such as “How to Optimize Heading Tags,” might perform better for SEO.)

Try to explain in a heading the core relevance of the page or section of a page. Usually all it takes is a noun with a modifier — such as “women’s shoes” instead of just “women’s” or “shoes” — to help search engine algorithms understand what shoppers know by reading.

Advances in HTML specifications allow more than one H1 heading on a page. But don’t abuse it. Search engines likely would consider, for example, 10 H1 headings with trophy keywords as over-optimization. Lesser headings —  H2, H3 — communicate relevance almost as well.

Body Content

Text tends to be much shorter on an ecommerce site than, say, an informational site such as a blog, wiki, or similar. For ecommerce, try to include a line of text on the home page, a couple of lines on each category page, and a description on product pages. Content such as articles or FAQ pages should be as long as needed.

On each page, use the keyword at least once, as close to the start as you can without appearing forced. Include the keyword again, or another contextually relevant keyword, if the content is long enough and if it naturally flows in the text.

Your priority in content optimization should be well-written copy that shoppers find interesting or useful. No one wants to read “SEO copy” — content that has been over-optimized with strings of keywords and text that doesn’t communicate anything useful. It’s painful and turns off shoppers.

Well-optimized content uses the real-world language of shoppers — not marketing-speak or industry jargon.

Try to insert in the body copy a couple of links that your shoppers would find relevant. Such links have two important SEO benefits: They contribute to the keyword theme on the page where the link occurs, and they pass link authority and keyword context to the page being linked to. Make sure that your platform supports updating the link or 301 redirecting pages. This will avoid broken links when your URLs change.

Alternative Attributes

Also called “alt tags,” alternative attributes to image tags are more important for accessibility than for SEO. Screen readers speak the text in the alt attributes to help visually-impaired shoppers navigate a site.

However, alt attributes can add a small keyword relevance boost, and they are especially helpful in optimizing image search. Keep them short and descriptive. For product images, use the name of the item. If the name is not descriptive, include a keyword or two.

For images that include words, place those words into the alt attribute. Don’t insert alt text in images that are for decoration (such as lifestyle pictures of smiling people) or formatting (spacers, dividing lines, bullets).

Do not stuff alt attributes with keywords. There’s no SEO benefit, and it’s a terrible user experience. If you wouldn’t want to listen to a screen reader speaking them, take the words out.


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Look Listen Announces Joint Venture with OTHRSource




News Image

“I never believed in the traditional agency model and rules. So, the things that make Look Listen successful are what we have infused into OTHRDigital: Deep client partnerships, data-driven decision making, and a passion for simply doing good work,” said Kit Hughes, CEO and co-founder of Look Listen

Look Listen, a full-service digital marketing agency with offices in Atlanta, Denver and Portland is pleased to announce that they have signed an agreement for the creation of a joint-venture company with OTHRSource, a leader in providing a suite of merchandising, e-commerce, media/content creation and other services to the emerging brand community. The new joint venture, OTHRDigital, will focus on supporting challenger food and beverage brands with a variety of digital marketing tools and services customized exclusively for them.

“I never believed in the traditional agency model and rules. So, the things that make Look Listen successful are what we have infused into OTHRDigital: Deep client partnerships, data-driven decision making, and a passion for simply doing good work,” said Kit Hughes, CEO and co-founder of Look Listen. “It’s a powerful relationship that’s been years in the making. OTHRSource brings unrivaled industry expertise and Look Listen brings proven, repeatable success in digital marketing. We both started as underdogs and have scrapped our way to the top of the mountain. The partnership is a no-brainer, and I can’t wait for our clients to experience it firsthand.”

OTHRDigital promises clients to ‘transform and optimize their entire digital marketing landscape. In 30 days or less.’

Key Service Areas

Websites: Pretty pictures on a website just doesn’t cut it. We design and build sites that engage users, build loyalty, and drive sales. Ok, they look cool, too.

Social: Emerging brands can’t keep up with social. There’s too much, too often, and they have a business to run. We grow social followings. Real brand followers. Buyers.

Content: What content emerging brands do have time to create gets lost in the jungle. Not anymore. We build effective content engines for brands. Content that builds and promotes the brand’s story to the world.

Email: Email can be tough. So many regulations and ethical decisions. We design and execute email plans that let brands speak directly to customers, without being creepy.

Mark Feinberg, the CEO of OTHRSource, shared, “I’ve known Kit and the team at Look Listen for quite some time. We’ve shared a passion for deep data-driven digital marketing and audience curation that quite frankly has been lacking for the emerging brand community. OTHRDigital provides a level of depth, unparalleled in the industry and we do it without breaking the bank, which is critical for an emerging brand. We are thrilled to offer this service to our clients and the industry as a whole.”

About OTHRDigital

OTHRDigital delivers no-nonsense, data-driven marketing solutions to help brands organize and leverage the value of their data right from the start. We think data is human, and it sits at the center of every strategy we develop. We also believe in great ideas. Sometimes those ideas are more creative and other times the strategy with the best ROI is what matters and we optimize to win. Every time. Our data-driven approach helps our clients find the story behind each spreadsheet and target the audience they’re trying to reach more effectively. Get your free consultation today at

About Look Listen

Look Listen builds campaigns, websites, communications, and digital products for companies that seek to improve the human experience. Leveraging our long history of applying human-centered design to marketing, we help our clients achieve peak performance by using behavioral analysis across sales, marketing, and product development. With offices in Atlanta, Denver and Portland, you can connect with us online at and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Launched in 2018, OTHRSource is a platform that provides a suite of services including merchandising/in-store support, e-commerce (, the OTHRFoodNetwork, a media entity and data and analytics services. The initial in-store support service spun out of a rapidly growing food company in 2017 and has been growing and adding services ever since. To learn more about us, visit or follow OTHRSource on LinkedIn (@OTHRSource), Instagram (@OTHRSource) and Facebook (@OTHRSource).

Media Contact:

Donna Crafton Montgomery

Look Listen


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