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Keeping an eye on the weather

As retailers of waterproofs, our sales are definitely affected by the weather. This is especially true during the Irish summer months. If we have a prolonged spell of wet weather our sales will generally increase. If the sun shines for a few days our sales will more than likely drop.

Managing our online advertising spend during the summer months can be an interesting task. If the weather is really nice for a few days I normally decrease the daily spend on Google Adwords – sometimes turning it off altogether for a few days of really sunny weather.

I have also been experimenting again with Facebook ads recently. I have set up a few different ads and have been turning them on and off for periods over the last few weeks depending on the day’s weather. Here’s one of them:


The tool that I find really useful in managing these ads is the Met Eireann Rainfall Radar.

The Rainfall Radar is updated every 15 minutes and shows an accurate picture of the rainfall pattern over Ireland. The colour codes show the intensity of the rainfall and it can be animated on the Met Eireann site to show the progression of the rain in the last few hours. Here are a few examples:

radar 4

It’s raining over most of the country. Decision: Turn the Facebook Ad on for the day.


It’s mostly fine throughout the country. Decision: No Facebook ads running and reduce the spend on Adwords.

The overall Met Eireann site is very easy to use and provides accurate weather information, forecasts and statistics. I am sure that they expect farmers and fishermen to use their information to decide on their course of action but they might be surprised to learn that an online retailer also makes use of their information to make important business decisions.

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Changing your Facebook Fan Page Username

Facebook announced a while back that personal Facebook users could change their Facebook url from a randomly selected id to a meaningful url. This was possible for personal facebook pages from last week. So my own facebook profile is now at

However, there was a limitation for businesses with Facebook Fan pages. Initially, You needed to have 1000 fans on your page in order to change the url. We didn’t qualify for this as we have around 130 fans signed up on the PuddleDucks fan page.

From today (June 29th), Facebook fan pages with over 100 fans can now get their customised url. To do this go to and select the username for any fan pages that you administer.

Later Update: It is now 25 fans to qualify for a customised username.

Therefore our page which in the past could be found at:

can now be found at

facebook fan page

This will make it easier to let people know about our page and to include on marketing material, press releases, email signatures, etc.

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Facebook Page Insights – Two of our Fans are Pirates and other Interesting Facts.

If you have a Facebook fan page you can learn lots of interesting statistics by looking at your Page Insights. This shows analytical information about your page, your fans and their interaction with your fan page.

We have the PuddleDucks fan page up and running for over six months now and we have recently passed the milestone of 100 fans. So I think it’s a good time to look at our Page Insights and here are some of the highlights.

All Fans over Time:

This shows that there is a fairly steady organic growth in new fans at about 10 new fans a month. The big jump at the end of March was due to a campaign to get more new fans by using Facebook Ads and holding a prize draw among fans. Note to self – Must do that again soon.

FB Insights 1

Gender Breakdown:

This is an interesting breakdown which I think closely reflects the normal gender breakdown of our customers.

Looking at the breakdown, I see we have 22% Male and 77% Female fans. Wonder what gender the remaining 1% is?!

 FB Insights 2

Location Breakdown:

No surprises here – our business is mostly targeted at the Irish market so this is the expected breakdown. But it’s nice to see we have one fan out there in the UAE – not a market I had considered as a big one for waterproof clothes. Maybe I’ll look into that now (joke!).

FB Insights 3

Language Breakdown:

Now this was a surprise. Two of our fans are Pirates! Well, two of our fans have switched their language in Facebook to English (Pirate) which changes the normal Facebook terms to “Pirate Language” terms. Here’s a few examples:

  • Fans = Crewmembers
  • Friends = Me Hearties
  • Log Out = Abandon Ship
  • Info = Cap’n’s Log
  • What’s on your mind? = What be troublin’ ye

Try it out – it’s good fun to set your language to English (Pirate) for a while. Just go to Settings, Language to do it. But I’m not sure that I’d like to keep it as a permanent setting though.

So to finish, I’d just like to say “Aaar, mateys. It be pleasin’ to have you on board” to our two Pirate crewmembers.

FB insights 4

PS: If you’d like to join as a fan on our page – if you’re a Pirate or not – you can do it here.

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Using Facebook Ads to get more Fans

We’ve experimented with Facebook Advertising campaigns a number of times over the past six months with mixed results. I’ve posted about them twice before:

1. Facebook Ads and How they Compare to Google Adwords – 31st October 2008 – blog post here

2. Latest Facebook Ads Campaign – 10th February 2009 – blog post here

The conclusion from those campaigns was that the demographic targeting was great, the number of clicks and traffic we got was good but conversions to sales were poor. The reason is that it takes a lot to persuade a Facebook user to change from Facebook engagement mode to buying mode.

This time I used a Facebook ad to direct users to our Facebook Fan page with the purpose of getting new visitors to signup as fans.  It was run to coincide with a voucher giveaway which was running on the Facebook page – to be drawn from all fans on March 31st.

Here’s what the ad looked like:


And here’s the stats: I started the ad campaign on March 26th:

March 26th – 13 clicks – 5 New Fans

March 27th 13 clicks – 5 New Fans

March 28th – 13 clicks – 1 New Fan

March 29th – 12 clicks – 1 New Fan

March 30th – 12 clicks – 3 New Fans

March 31st – 11 clicks – 10 New Fans.

Overall: 74 clicks, 25 new fans, Total cost $15.05


Of course not all new fans over this period can be attributed to the Facebook Ad. It’s a failing in the Facebook page insights (analytics) that they don’t show the source of the new fans i.e. whether they came from the ad, from the PuddleDucks site or from any other referrals. We did get a great referral from Damien Mulley’s blog on the 31st March which would have resulted in a number of the new fans for that day.

So overall I think it was worthwhile spend of $15. I might do it again to sign-up more fans the next time we are running a prize draw on our Facebook page.

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Facebook Page Prize Draw Winner

The winner of the March draw for the €50 PuddleDucks voucher made among our Facebook Fans is Nuala Carolan. Congrats Nuala!

Nuala is fan number 17 on the list of fans from our Facebook page.


The number 17 was picked by our two dogs, Pepper and Rory last evening at PuddleDucks HQ – ably assited by Jake (nearly 8). It was a little chaotic but we got there in the end!

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Facebook Prize Draw

A quick reminder of a prize draw for a €50 PuddleDucks voucher on our Facebook page. The draw takes place on April 1st among all the fans. And remember if you’re a fan you’re entitled to free postage on all orders (within Ireland).


 I am thinking of an interesting and unusual method to make the draw. If you have any ideas please leave a comment.

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Makeover for our Facebook page

Facebook have recently implemented a new look to Fan pages. The main change is that the fan page now looks more like your personal facebook page. Most of the page is now taken up with the Wall tab.

Here’s what the PuddleDucks Fan page now looks like:


Overall it’s an improvement on the old style page but I also have a few reservations.


In  the old style page it was difficult to engage directly with fans on new content or offers. Now fans will see the new fan page status updates (including photos and videos) appear directly on the news feed on their personal page. This will really improve engagement and is a major change for the good.

You can slso configure the page so that fans and non-fans see different landing pages.  I have set it up so that fans land on the Wall (careful!) while non-fans land on the Info tab.

Don’t like:

For us, the ability of fans to add photos to our page is important. In the past, fans have added photos to the page of their kids wearing the PuddleDucks gear. In the new layout the fan photos are lost in the Photos box and it is not visible at all unless the Photos box is clicked.

The Information box is also not very useful. The only information visible on the full page display is that we were founded in 2005 – not the most important piece of information about PuddleDucks that I’d like people to see.


I have a lot more experimenting to do to improve the look and feel and the user experience. I must find out more about Facebook applications as they can also be integrated into the pages.

Finally a reminder of the benfits of joining as a fan of PuddleDucks on Facebook. At the moment we have a draw for a €50 PuddleDucks voucher – the draw takes place at the end of March among all the fans. And our fans are entitled to free postage on all orders. Come join us as a fan here.

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