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BiyoArt Business Update


It's currently early February 2007 and another mild but busy winter to date. After finalizing this past year's taxes it has finally happened...we broke even for our road art festival expenses. In 2003 we were at a 5 to 1 ratio, 2004 at 4 to 1 and 3 to 1 for 2005. So, finally for the year 2006 we were at about a 1 to 1 ratio of expenses to sales...about time. But, our in-house expenditures were also elevated to produce the increase in sales. So, now that we are ramped up to the new business offerings our production expenses for this year should be back to normal and sales on the increase with the new offerings.

All of our new offerings of graphic art reproductions are currently online, with new ones being created monthly as the urge or request dictates. We have also had success with our recently implemented online order system allowing customers the convenience of e-commerce shopping. But, the only orders have been direct e-mail contact and not search engine query orders. Not one single online order has come from our free Google Froogle listings or from any other search result. Google Froogle has also recently changed their listing requirements to include a more expanded listing of item attributes or object details. We are still working on the listing and have until the end of February to update our listing. But, over the summer art festival months it was gleaned that most customers had never heard of Google that is a problem. Also, we have found out that our search definitions within Google no longer bring up our website keywords and hence product listings in Froogle. Our product listings are now a drop in the ocean in Google, which has about 70% - 80% of the search market. Our search definition in Yahoo still bring us in on the first page, but they only have about 10% of the market. We also had to change our search engine submission company and lost six months of hierarchy, albeit it really didn't matter in the sales.

Upon reflection of our situation of only being able to market to the places we visit on the road, because of the nonexistent metrics of sales from search engines, it was decided to begin an advertising campaign with the new art prints. We looked at Google AdWords a few years ago but were not confident in our return on investment due to the lack of festival sales on the road at the time. But now that our new products are selling very well it's time to research the cost again.

We are now researching the cost of Google AdWords and the highly important use of keywords for targeting of customers...and it's not as easy as it looks or sounds or acts. It's a little complex at determining and developing an advertising campaign, at least one that will work over time, and that is exactly what it will take...time, research and metrics.

Also, the research of keywords online has brought the stark reality that our website pages utilize incorrect keywords to target customers...and this has led to the following statements for the 2007 season :

New website slogan : It's not what you think how people will search, it's how they actually search . . .

New advertising slogan : Give them what they want, but didn't know they were looking for . . . lots of work to do.

Mid March 2007 update has put a hold on our AdWord campaign as soon it was learned that the position placement of the ad is directly associated with the page rank of target page and therefore cost of the ad. The lower the page rank of the target page, the higher the cost of ad placement. Since our reformatted site, along with file renaming clarification, has yet to be indexed on the major search engines, it would be fiscally wise to wait until such time as being indexed. Of course they also have to choke on and terminate all the 404 status files that no longer exist as well as index the current file structure and art print images.

We are also utilizing the Google Webmaster Tools account to research site indexing and manually publish our website sitemap.xml.gz updates. It would appear that Google is a little slow at updating the index; they have hundreds of 404 files that have been crawled and hundreds of new files crawled with little update to the indexing file. Also, reformatting the website pages for proper titles and keywords, updating the Frameset page noframes content and reviewing and updating through enrichment the page content. Also utilizing the W3 Markup Validation Service for website page code validation. We had to add the DOCTYPE of Frameset and Transitional to reduce page errors, but stopped short of correcting the few page style errors that should be handled with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). We will leave that update for another day.

Until then, we have researched and listed our Art Reproductions on selected major shopping websites: Yahoo Shopping, Shopzilla and Shopping. Others were researched, but they either didn't list their rate cards, termination guarantee was costly, site wanted a monthly fee for listing or we had never heard of them. For the selected sites Yahoo was the easiest and most efficient to establish products online with, although we had to modify our Company Contact Information page on our site. Shopzilla had problems uploading images for all of the product descriptions which were listed within a couple days of product feed; one week later and they still have only listed eighty percent of the product images. Shopping site account broke once it had trouble re-mapping the product feed to the proper subset of Wall Art. Technical assistance, five days later, got all of the products listed properly, but now the account shows no products listed; one week later and technical assistance has been aware of the issue and is trying to resolve it. Our listings are a cost-per-click (CPC) listing with the minimum cost of $0.15 for Shopping and $0.30 for Yahoo and Shopzilla. All of the listings appear high in search page rank, which could be for new listings, but it's a good sign on position. On a final note, Yahoo has included dual listings for the sports art prints, Shopping offers larger view options and the Shopzilla product images are a little small which lends itself to clicking for a better view. We'll see how the basic cost return works out as well as research for optimization on the accounts.

As it has been learned; a Shopzilla account gets you listed on the shopping sites of Bizrate, Shopping AOL and Shop Lycos, a Shopping account gets you listed on the shopping sites of Dealtime and mySimon, with site reviews on Epinions. These listings also include the search site shopping widget at partner sites which could eventually be several hundred other sites.

Update April: we terminated our account, within one month, with the Shopzilla network of shopping sites. The quantity of clicks generated by the network were ten fold greater than Shopping and Yahoo shopping networks, which have as many unique visitors per month as did Shopzilla. The main problem with the Shopzilla listing is the size of the product image. They ask for an optimized image size of 200x200 pixels which they reduce to less than 100x100 pixels in size. Most of the Wall Art images listed are too small to appreciate the product and hence get what I call the curiosity click. The other networks have larger, discernible images and in some cases a larger view option. Also reviewed the shopping comparison site of Jellyfish, which utilizes the cost per sale concept of product listings. After the research it was determined to be the wrong type of venue for the art prints to be listed.

Update May: Google announced an update to its homepage to incorporate a Universal Search page where by all search criteria will be available on one page. How this will effect its Product (Froogle) and image search and Adwords is yet to be determined, so we will wait on the Adword campaign. Plan to look at the Yahoo Sponsored search by the end of June since they offer to open the account with 100 dollars. Have a few designs that need to be done by the Buffalo show before the female lacrosse players get a hold of me for only having one male lacrosse design. Also, in the process of dropping the state of Ohio from the show listing, the expense of the distance far out ways the possible return on sales.

Update November: Art festival shows have come to an end for the year. Early indications from the spreadsheet is that sales more than paid for the cost of attending the festivals. An excellent date. The Art Reproduction pages on the website have been updated to show the art in its various colors available instead of listing the colors on a drop down menu. Customer feedback, or should I say confusion, warranted the modifications. The Art Reproductions are also now available in the 20x27 format following a morning of figuring it out and a note from one of the shows that some patrons had suggested it. But, it was also for producing silkscreen photopositives with the the newly ordered Epson Piezo Pro Clear Film using the ultrachrome pigment ink of the Epson 4800. Going to see if the cost of obtaining photopositives for the lined masking layer of the silkscreen can be produced in-house for about $5 instead of $25 to $150 per sheet. Also followed through with an idea from a few years ago and ordered 11x17 sheets of Inkpress Transparency Film that apparently works well with ultrachrome ink. Trying to design a new product line of Art Reproductions in 3-D in between following up with all of the design requests from the art festivals. Got a lot of e-mail to send....

The Google Adword campaign was launched near the end of October. It has required a lot of time to initially monitor all 18 campaigns of sports art and gifts, but it has slowly normalized. Within one week there had been 1.5 million impressions for the ads, but alas no sales and a scary capped budget. Fine tuning has brought the content network impressions way back since it was determined that the impressions and clicks for sites like MySpace were possibly more curiosity clicks than a sale. The negative keywords are also currently up around 150 to 200, and increasing as required. Utilizing tools through our ISP service, clicks are monitored to establish metrics on the landing pages and to determine whose IP came to visit and from where to make possible alterations to the Adword account. The clicks are not lacking at this point...just the sales, or the quality of the click. So, it's just like being at an art festival, not all people who visit purchase. But, if sales do pickup it sure beats the expense of having to drive to Chicago...tis the season also.

December update has the Google Adword campaign completely shutdown for both the content network and gift keyword ads. The only remaining ad campaigns being utilized are for the art associated keywords. We had great click through rates (CTR) for the campaigns, but the sales return was only twenty five percent of the cost of running the ads. We are looking at updating our Dreamweaver website software to CS3 and getting rid of the website frame structure and window re-sizing. This will will give us better landing page rank for the cost per click (CPC) and a higher ranking on the search networks with all of the content appearing on the source page. This would update our site to the latest cascading style sheet (CSS) design criteria and allow for certain page redesigns and overall site experience...a very large effort...again.

The new silkscreen process utilizing the film on the Epson 4800 printer for the line masking layer was a complete success. Future exposure times need to be extended to compensate for the slight opacity of the film. Process photos were also taken to add to the website showing the screen alignment process. Delivery to the customer also went well as they placed an order for two more silkscreen designs for this spring.

We had a few problems with a couple of framed art shipments arriving with damaged glass over the past couple of months. The packaging for the smaller framed art has been increased and modified to include the stiff foam insulation. The cost of shipping and handling in turn has increased and therefore the website shipping costs have also increased across the board for all sizes by five dollars. The unframed art reproductions that ship USPS have increased one dollar due to an actual cost increase. Photos of the shipping insulation will also be added to the website. We were also informed that our credit card account now accepts the Discover Card as payment at the same rates, so the website was updated to include this payment option. These shipping and credit card changes required modification to our customized MerchantPAL code. All went well since an order was properly processed the following day.


It's been real
We'll have to do it again real soon.
Talk at ya.


5 - December - 2007


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