A Pirate’s Favorite Letter

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What’s a pirate retailer’s favorite letter?


Of course, I am talking about Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), a lever that has long driven hefty valuations for SAAS companies. But now that trend is quickly making its move into commerce.

This week alone we look at two great examples of how this is playing out with Walmart & Panera.

🔎 Search

Google Penalties on Guest Post Articles

“We have detected that some of your articles are guest posts… We have disabled your authority for your outbound links. Please set your outbound links to nofollow and submit a review request.”

Guest posts are a long-trusted link building strategy. It’s one of the few SEO tactics that has been popular the entire decade I have worked in digital marketing.

🗣 Social

Does Engagement On Facebook Ads Increase Their Performance? A $1,000 Experiment

Will an advert with lots of engagement result in more clicks and conversions than an identical ad with no social proof?

This study provides several helpful data points regarding the power of social proof.

Twitter Shares Some Simple Tweet Copy Tips to Improve Campaign Performance

This week, Twitter has launched a new initiative which aims to provide simple tips to help businesses improve their tweet copy. The new program is titled ‘Good Copy, Bad Copy”:

TikTok Marketers Chase Billions of Views in Uncharted Terrain

The first-mover advantage will be short-lived. TikTok is already testing a self-service advertising tool, which will make it possible for any brand to buy ads. Snapchat parent Snap Inc. went through a similar transition in 2017, moving from selling expensive ads with a personal touch to a model where anyone could buy them online. The prices for its ads dropped, but eventually the company started building more advertiser relationships and a more stable business.

To be successful with that strategy, though, TikTok will have to build more targeting options and controls for advertisers, according to Meghan Myszkowski, head of North American social media advertising at the ad agency Essence. Showing an ad to everyone can translate to a larger viewership, but isn’t necessarily efficient. Brands may waste money showing ads to an irrelevant audience, or run the risk of their ad appearing directly before or after a video that it wouldn’t want to be associated with. TikTok lets its advertisers target using basic information like a user’s location and gender; it’s less granular than what is offered by TikTok’s larger rivals, Instagram and YouTube, where ads can be targeted to specific interests and purchasing behavior.

My thoughts are best summarized by a Tweet from the author:

LinkedIn is testing Snapchat-like stories because that’s the world we live in now

According to Pete Davies, LinkedIn’s head of content products, the goal is to meet LinkedIn users “where their voices are.” Stories would offer a lighter, more casual way of interacting in the business-focused world that makes up LinkedIn, instead of the formal messaging and posting that makes up the bulk of interactions on the site. For example, Davies imagines that a company might use stories to share “key moments from work events” or “tips and tricks that help us work smarter.”

Indeed, last year Lego conducted a survey of 3,000 children aged between 8 and 12 from the US, UK and China, and they found that kids are now 3x more likely to aspire towards a career as a YouTuber rather than an astronaut, the traditional kids choice of the past.

I mean…🤯

🛍 Marketplace

Walmart is quietly working on an Amazon Prime competitor called Walmart+

But Recode has learned that over the past 18 months, the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer has explored creating its own paid membership program that would include perks that Amazon can’t replicate, in part to avoid a direct comparison to Prime. Amazon now accounts for nearly 40 percent of all online retail sales in the US, according to eMarketer, and Prime is a huge reason why. Walmart is a distant No. 2 with only a little more than 5 percent of the US e-commerce market.

As soon as next month, Walmart plans to start publicly testing a membership program called Walmart+, according to sources. The program is expected to essentially launch as a rebrand of Walmart’s existing Delivery Unlimited service, which charges customers $98 a year for unlimited, same-day delivery of fresh groceries from one of the 1,600-plus Walmart stores in the US where the program is available. The company is also considering launching Walmart+ with a feature that would allow customers to use text messaging to place orders. Sources said that the amount of the Walmart+ fee could still change or the company might test multiple price points.

But the long-term vision for Walmart+ is for the program to add more perks, which could include discounts on prescription drugs at Walmart pharmacies and fuel at Walmart gas stations, as well as a Scan & Go service that would allow shoppers to check out in Walmart stores without waiting in line — a tool Walmart briefly tested but discontinued nearly two years ago.

I’ll be interested to see what (if any) role Walmart’s large catalog of third-party sellers play in this new offering.


Panera just launched an unprecedented subscription offering unlimited coffee and tea for $9 per month

Panera is unleashing a radical new weapon in the fast-food-breakfast wars: an unlimited-coffee subscription.

The subscription provides unlimited hot coffee, iced coffee, or hot tea at all Panera restaurants for a monthly fee of $9, or about $108 annually. Panera is rolling it out nationwide over the next week to members of its MyPanera loyalty program.


I Bought These Things From Amazon Prime. Can You Tell Which Ones Are Real?

Although Amazon has taken many measures to prevent counterfeits and unsafe products from showing up on its site, plenty of fakes still slip through. Over the past several months, we’ve purchased counterfeits and knockoffs making fraudulent safety claims and encountered a few instances in which a seller switched in an authentic product but from a discontinued or lesser-quality line—all delivered through Amazon Prime. We also obtained authentic items, either directly from the manufacturer or with confirmation from the brand. While the fakes and knockoffs may look like the real products at first glance, they’re often lower in quality, sometimes hiding potential health or safety issues.

Many people think that counterfeits and knockoffs are so obviously inferior—visually and otherwise—that it’s easy to spot the difference between a fake and the real thing. But increasingly, that’s not the case with counterfeits purchased online. Test yourself: Can you spot the real thing in the photos below?

🔒 Security

Apple drops a bomb on long-life HTTPS certificates | The Register

Specifically, according to those present at the confab, from September 1, any new website cert valid for more than 398 days will not be trusted by the Safari browser and instead rejected. Older certs, issued prior to the deadline, are unaffected by this rule.

By implementing the policy in Safari, Apple will, by extension, enforce it on all iOS and macOS devices. This will put pressure on website admins and developers to make sure their certs meet Apple’s requirements – or risk breaking pages on a billion-plus devices and computers.

I foresee a lot of tense moments coming to dev teams in 2020 as folks wake up to expired SSL certs.

🛠 Tips & Tools

The Smithsonian has released more than 2.8 million images you can use for free

The Smithsonian Institution is releasing 2.8 million high-res images from its massive collection into the public domain, putting them online for anyone to use and download for free.

Over the next few months, the Smithsonian will add another 200,000 images to the access platform, and it will continue digitizing its massive database of more than 155 million items.

The collection will be listed under a Creative Commons Zero license, making them free of any republishing restrictions.

Search the collection here.

Facebook Ad Library

The Ad Library provides advertising transparency by offering a comprehensive, searchable collection of all ads currently running from across Facebook Products, including Instagram. Anyone can explore the Library, with or without a Facebook or Instagram account.

This is an old (and perhaps tired) tip. But it seems every week I talk to someone who isn’t familiar with this tool. And every week I personally find a new use for it.

If you haven’t used Facebook’s Ad Library before, a great way to get started is by searching for:

  • your business
  • your competitors
  • the brands you admire

Then let the creative juices flow.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Just For Fun

‘Our e-commerce business is under repair’: Lowe’s website continues to struggle

When Ellison took over as Lowe’s CEO in July 2018, the technology stack that Lowe’s website was running on hadn’t been updated in over a decade. That meant it took Lowe’s longer to complete tasks like add new SKUs to its website. Now, nearly two years into Ellison’s tenure, Lowe’s is almost done migrating its website over to Google Cloud, a change that he said will enable Lowe’s to make changes that will make it easier for customers to buy more through Lowe’s website.

Just a friendly reminder that no one is above technical debt. 🙃


Not exactly an ideal time for this ad to be running. 😳😷

👋🏼 Holla!

Questions, comments, inquiries? I’d love to hear from you! Email me@robbettis.com.