Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Cuba Opportunity

My Grandfather ingrained in my brain that when Cuba opened up, the opportunity for business would be amazing. My family was in the garbage business back then. I grew up learning about trucks, front loaders, rear loaders, containers, roll offs, and most importantly the service business. He told me about Cuba in 1988 and how the infrastructure of the country would need to be rebuilt when Castro passed away or the government changed. It is 26 years later and part of the world is about to change from the news yesterday about President Obama ending the Cuba embargo.

I am a native South Floridian. My best friend growing up was Cuban. I learned all about his family’s culture and my upbringing had those influences. Cubans and Cuban Americans are a proud people with deep culture, family values, and strong work ethics. Throughout my life in South Florida I have seen how great of a people they are. I am not in a position to comment on the politics, there will be raging debates in the coming months, but I am interested in the opportunity that is in Cuba.

My Grandfather spent a significant amount of time in Cuba in the 1950s and he described how beautiful of a country it was. Towards the end of his life, he taught me about what Cuba would need when the time came; they would need a full rebuild of their infrastructure. Of course, he was interested in the garbage business side of things, but he also schooled me on the roads, their electricity issues, outdated telephone technology, old cars, lack of modern construction, opportunity for increased tourism, and some of the best fishing in the world! What he did not know when he passed away in 1989, was the coming digital revolution and how it could fuel future relations.

Now I look at Cuba in 2014 and I can see everything that I always knew was coming, and more. If this happened 10 years ago, I could see my Dad already on his way there to open a company. I have to look at the search marketing opportunities. Tourism is going to be the first area that needs search marketing, which is a no-brainer. What about all of the businesses that are going to rebuild the country’s infrastructure? Now we are talking real money, real investments, real jobs, and a dire need for marketing.

Tandem Interactive has three bilingual employees; South Florida is already the corridor to South America and now it will be the corridor to Cuba. We are ready to work in tandem with companies on both sides of the Gulfstream. The next decade should be incredible for both Cuba and South Florida. I will do my best to contribute and I believe…fulfill part of my Grandfather’s dream.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Truth about What SEO Really Is

As entrepreneurs, we are all familiar with the term SEO, but do we understand what it is?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an evolutionary form of marketing your business digitally in order to reach a higher ranking in search results, rather than paying for ranking by using an SEM (Search Engine Marketing) approach.

The problem with SEO is that everyone claims that they know what SEO is and how to create SEO rich content. The problem with this idea is that “one does not SIMPLY get to the top of Google”. As smart as you may think you are, the employees at Google ARE smarter than you, and know the approach that you are trying to take in order to get higher rankings. Since businesses think that they can “one-up” Google, Google is creating harsher guidelines in efforts to enforce quality and promote a better user experience.

SEO is quality. Google has made it very clear that they do not want slapdash content infiltrating websites, with no effort in structure. SEO has forced content writers to really understand the desires of searchers and deliver what they want…answers. Search Engines have provided numerous tools to help your content writers create quality content that pertains to your industry – use them! These resources are free and at your disposal, why would you not use them?

SEO is organized. The writing process can be somewhat scattered; one thought leads to another, which leads to rambling about a completely different topic. SEO requires websites to have a natural process for navigating through their site to discover answers to their search queries. Make your site and your content uniformed and informative. It is better to have one great idea than 100 bad ones.

SEO is opportunity. Before the birth of algorithms and the panda/penguin/pigeon updates, SEO was not fair. The World of SEO has made clear guidelines on what is rewarded and what is penalized, making your true efforts more difficult, which is good and bad. The implementation of SEO guidelines has been bad for the websites that practice ‘black hat’ tactics and keyword stuff their website until it ranks first in 10+ keywords, but good for the little guy that has been willing to put the time and effort into creating real, quality content to inform their customers about their product/services/company. SEO allows great content to be found, that would not have been seen before the updates.

While some SEO marketing companies are still contributing to the mess that will get websites violated by Google, most SEO companies have revised their approach on creating high quality links and SEO rich content. If you have any questions regarding SEO tactics or have questions about your website’s current stance in the SERPs, please contact Tandem directly at

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Google AdWords Cross-Account Conversion Tracking

If you’ve been managing PPC campaigns for years, you are well aware that the best way to manage and measure PPC campaigns is to run them with conversion tracking. It’s so easy to get used to the same old method and manage conversion tracking for accounts individually. However, cross-account conversion tracking in AdWords (managed carefully) is an efficient way to track multiple AdWords accounts using a single conversion code snippet. 

Before you can use this feature, you need to create a My Client Center (MCC) account for creating conversions that you can use across your accounts.  If this is new to you, you should set up cross-account conversion tracking - it makes more sense to manage hundreds of accounts this way! Keep in mind is that once you switch to using MCC level conversion tracking, it will trump your account level conversion tracking. You’ll immediately notice that the conversion action you previously set up in an individual account becomes inactive. Why do I want to make an emphasis on this? Let me explain.

One of our client’s goals is to track when a user clicked on an ad and made a call using a dynamic number on the website. We decided to create a cross-account conversion action “Calls from ads,” to make things simple. However, when creating this goal, AdWords did not warn us that it would deactivate our current conversion tracking (email leads) at the account level. This was clear to us after noticing a decrease in email leads and investigating the issue. So when creating MCC level conversion tracking (cross-account conversion tracking), make sure that you create the same type of goal you previously had and don’t be afraid to track other actions. This will save you the hassle of figuring out where your leads are coming from and why they may have stopped generating.  

Some accounts may run for years without any conversion tracking set up at all and whether the person managing these accounts uses other metrics and Google Analytics to measure effectiveness, it is not the best way to monitor overall performance. Every marketer should know what happens after a user clicks on their ad and which keyword, ad or campaign triggered the conversion. It's important to know what’s worth bidding on and crucial to monitor conversions after making major changes.  If you need assistance implementing converstion tracking at the MCC or account level, please don't hesitate to reach out to our team.

Best Regards and Happy Holidays!

Sara Ayala

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why Cyber Week is Terrible for Online Merchants

The holiday season is typically a great sales period for online merchants, with total annual sales reaching close to $9 billion! So, online merchants should rejoice right? It may not be that easy.

Contrary to the traditional American idealism of the free, capitalistic society of the United States where companies and industries can revel in their colossal success…the inevitable is bound to happen: government intervention.

Let’s look at Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week in numbers so that we can get a better understanding of why government would want to storm in, raising a yellow flag.

According to studies conducted by Adobe, ChannelAdvisor, and Custora, 2014 Black Friday sales increased between 20.6% and 24% over 2013. Reuters reported that the sales increase was closer to 22% and was fostered by higher employment numbers and lower gas prices.

Reuters also explained that consumers “flocked to computers and smartphones to hunt bargains”. An IBM study also backed up the notion that consumers were using more electronic means to shop, reporting that online retailers’ Black Friday sales increased by 8% over 2013. In a survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association, 77% of consumers said that they turned to the Internet for their Black Friday shopping since the Web offers comparable pricing, free shipping, and the convenience of not having to stand in line for hours. The surge in 2014 Black Friday online shoppers even made renowned retailers such as Best Buy, Neiman Marcus, and Game Stop suffer website outages, weaker bandwidths, and lack of availability of products.

As if those numbers were not already alarming, that was only for Black Friday, and today is Cyber Monday. With Cyber Week commencing today, The National Retail Federation estimates that roughly 127 million people will shop online today. Although that number is down from last year’s 131 million online shoppers, a close track of online sales estimates that online retailers will rack in a whopping $2.057 billion in desktop sales TODAY; resulting in an 18.6% increase from 2013. With the increasing rate of mobile traffic and consumers being able to buy online via mobile devices, around another $0.4 billion will be made by online retailers today.

In total, the 2014 Cyber Week expects to see $9 billion in total sales. This would be GREAT news for online merchants, except for the fact that when government sees big money being made, they want to get a piece of the cake, too.

For example, if you currently own a local store you are required to charge sales tax to your local customers. However, if you have an online store, many of your out-of-state customers can enjoy the loophole of not having to pay tax, a privilege that will soon be coming to an end.

The Marketplace Fairness Act is a bill that has been passed by the Senate and is currently sitting in the House and it would require Internet retailers to also collect sales taxes. Top House representatives are arguing that the bill would crush e-commerce (mainly for smaller retailers) unless Congress grants states more authority to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases. Since it is highly unlikely that Congress would ever pass a national tax for online shopping, every online business would have to collect, remit, and file sales tax returns in every single state that they ship their products to. Although there may be exemptions for small businesses, it is unclear what qualifications you would have to meet in order to be exempted, and you would still have to track and report your sales, in document form, in case of an audit.

Since many consumers are turning to online shopping for the perks of lower prices and no sales tax, the implementation of The Marketplace Fairness Act could weaken your business’ online traffic.

The 2014 Cyber Week could possibly be the very last without sales taxes, as the Federal government and multiple state governments are seeking ways to add revenue and reduce state deficits.  

Our advice to online retailers: revel in your profits as much as you can, because a portion of them may be going to the government sooner than you think.