One of the most powerful (and underrated) tools that online marketers have in their arsenal is the box their products ship in. Optimizing these transportation avenues can increase sales, average order size and overall profit. In-box ecommerce marketing has two main components.
First - it is crucial to consider the importance of return and repeat customers. These individuals are very valuable to your overall success and can produce more ROI than new customers. A study by Adobe states that more than 40 percent of U.S. online retail sales come from returning or repeat customers.
The second thing to remember when crafting your in-box marketing strategy is that packaging is a form of direct mail marketing. The box that carries your customer’s order is a direct marketing vehicle and should be valued as such. Then the real question is posed - what do you put in the box?
Here are a few suggestions for what to include within your in-box marketing:
2) Free Merchandise
4) Review Requests
What do you include in your packaging? How do you measure lift from these tactics?
For the full article, visit Practical Ecommerce here.
There was a time when the purchasing experience involved walking into a store, requesting particular goods, and then receiving them after a kindly old man in overalls retrieved them for you. Eventually, big-box stores and automated telephone systems became the norm, eschewing personal contact for ease and accessibility. In so doing, however, these organizations effectively de-personalized the customer’s stake in the process. What was once a conversation between retailer and individual became a matter of attending and maintaining a dressed up warehouse.
Customers are looking to recapture that personalized experience. Through social media and other digital communication media, businesses are learning to re-engage their patrons in the process. But no engagement process brings customers into the fold quite as well as crowdfunding.
According to a study by Massolution, crowdfunding platforms raised $2.7 billion for 1 million campaigns in 2012 and the organization forecast an 81% increase in this activity in 2013. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become the du jour platforms to help ambitious entrepreneurs get from point A to B. The unique nature of crowdfunding has its pratfalls and pluses, but understanding the risks and benefits can help determine if it’s the right path for you.
For those of you unfamiliar with crowdfunding, here’s the basic run-down. Crowdfunding involves an appeal to the masses for donations, pre-sale contributions, and investments that can provide a much-needed cash influx for product development and marketing purposes. In particular, each type of contribution has its pros and cons, but the end result is an engaging and fascinating exercise in the power of crowdsourcing.
Each type of contribution appeals to a particular sentiment or spirit of the crowdfunding endeavor. Donations, for example, appeal to the philanthropic side of the Internet. Pre-sales, which involve contributions with the promise of some kind of return, provide gratification and the feeling of contributing to a meaningful project. Loans and investments err on the side of traditional investment, rewarding individuals looking for a return. Identifying what type of contribution best suits your project is one of the many challenges of crowdfunding, along with determining what types of rewards will appeal to generous persons.
But no one is going to support a name without a story. Successful crowdfunding efforts require an effective sales pitch in order to get enthusiasm and buzz going. Unique to the platform, however, is the nature of successful crowdfunding pitches. Specifically, compelling storylines and appealing narratives are more likely to fuel nascent startups than bland tales of corporate ambitions. Crowdfunding appeals to our altruistic and socially conscious sentiments and requires an appropriate emotional appeal to fulfill that spirit.
The most compelling aspect of crowdfunding is the unique way it enables companies and fosters engagement. Business efforts can actually begin with crowdfunding if a sufficient funding goal is attained, alleviating (in rare cases) the need for angel investors or mountains of startup capital. In funding business ideas, donors and investors become stakeholders in the process. By including perks like apparel, products, design decisions, and correspondence, customers get the chance to feel like they are a part of something really unique, and, in doing so, harbor feelings of loyalty, trust, and enthusiasm.
But if it were easy, everyone would do it. Like any other method of fundraising, crowdfunding has its own challenges that can hinder young businesses. The first relates to the nature of your story. Due to the social consciousness inherent in the method, insufficiently human, inspiring stories can fall short of funding goals. The result can mean precious, wasted hours spent trying to tap a fruitless tree.
An even worse outcome than falling short of funding goals is errant funding estimates. Let’s say you create a campaign with cool rewards for contributors, a compelling storyline, and what seems to be a reasonable funding goal. The rush of hitting that threshold and receiving funding will be short-lived if your cost estimates outweigh your influx of cash. The inability to deliver promised rewards or provide a promised product can hurt reputation as easily as a successful campaign can help it.
Finally, there’s the work involved. Crowdfunding efforts work with a sort of “viral” element. As is well documented, the nature of virality is nebulous at best. One product may permeate Facebook like water through a sponge while another is dying of thirst. This challenge necessitates a constant social media presence and frequent promotional efforts from you and your team until the completion of the campaign. Think of it like electoral campaign fundraising: how many trips does a future president have to make in a week just to run TV commercials? Hint: It’s a lot.
So you’ve weighed the pros and cons and you’ve decided that crowdfunding is for you. Great! Successful campaigns have created a blueprint that other efforts can follow. Remember, by tapping into the spirit of progress, entrepreneurship, and social well being with an eye on the potential risks involved, you may just thank Kickstarter for getting your project off the ground.
Your campaign will need a quick influx of energy and enthusiasm, so have a network of friends, family, and colleagues ready to pitch in and get the ball rolling. By mobilizing cheap manpower, you can get more signs in the ground (so to speak) and put heads together for the next step. Design cool perks and benefits for contributors that reward them for their generosity. In addition, establish tiers of funding with increasingly awesome rewards with greater donations. Put together your social networking strategy and make sure it is thorough. You’re going to need to do a lot of legwork for things to go smoothly.
Finally, assess your costs and craft your pitch. The financial specifics, sadly, are your problem. Just remember that it is better to over-estimate costs than it is to under-estimate them (just make sure that stakeholders see a return on their superfluous contributions). Identify your unique story and don’t be afraid to get personal. Explain to your potential contributors what this project represents to you, your history, and what successful funding would mean for your company. Give specific details about how contributor money will be used and demonstrate your stake in the project by outlining your personal financial contribution. Render all of this in a quick, concise, and compelling video pitch, assemble your marketing materials and troops, and get ready to crowdsource.
There is no guarantee of success of course, but the potential benefits of crowdfunding make the endeavor worth the extra effort. Recognize your unique opportunity to engage customers and make a positive social footprint. Weigh the risks and develop strategies to help mitigate them. Most importantly, share your identity and your ambition with the world and reward your contributors for their help.
Whether it is showcasing low stock levels or encouraging customers to purchase now for faster delivery, ecommerce sites often rely on urgency to solidify sales prospects. This tactic has been successful for many businesses, because it forces a consumer’s hand and encourages them to make a quick decision. Coming into the holiday season, it can become an even more useful tactic. A message about low stock levels could mean the difference between a successful sale and a lost customer.
Here are 15 examples of companies who enforce urgency within their ecommerce experience:
1) American Apparel
3) Simply Hike
4) John Lewis
5) House of Fraser
9) Land’s End
12) Hotel Chocolat
Whether it’s through social proof or highlighting “last chance” discounts, these tactics are especially relevant as your ecommerce site preps for the holiday rush.
Read more about the tactics used by each company on Econsultancy.
Many ecommerce shops are finding that if you can’t go toe-to-toe with the big businesses, amazing service is a key value proposition to promote. How can your company deliver a great customer experience? It simply boils down to taking care of your customers’ needs and providing them with an interaction that leaves a lasting impression.
Here are six ways to surprise and delight your customers in a cost efficient way, according to Shopify:
1) The Classic Freebie
2) A Thank You Note
3) Check In With Customers
4) Get Proactive About Service
5) Sweat The Small Stuff
6) Go Beyond “Help” Content
For more on ways to wow your customers, read the full Shopify article here.
Marketers who rely on text-based content are likely struggling to make a lasting impression on their audience. Many studies have been produced that link imagery to retention of messaging. A New York-based psychologist, Jerome Bruner, found that people remember about 10 percent of what they hear and 20 percent of what they read but almost 80 percent of what they see. Keeping these stats in mind, creating videos, infographics and other helpful visuals can foster lasting impressions on your current and potential customers.
Here are five apps, curated by Intuit, that will help you create impressive visual pieces to couple with your content:
2) Haiku Deck
For more on these tools, visit the full article on Intuit’s Blog.
One of the main goals of content marketing is to deliver information to your target audience that will help them make a decision or purchase. Many content marketing messages are catered towards a certain audience on a particular social media platform. While your brand’s messaging should be consistent across all channels, it is crucial to create outbound posts that speak to the audience that will be receiving them.
Even though your messages may vary based on the channel, maintaining consistent branding throughout your multi-channel approach is key to your content marketing success. Make sure all of your logos, taglines and themes remain streamlined across every channel where your brand appears. It is OK to include a theme, when appropriate, for things such as seasonal promotions or new products. You can then craft a value proposition to mirror this theme, which can be distributed across all platforms.
Another key element of your content marketing strategy is the tools that you use to deliver your messages. To manage the variety of content that your brand will be pushing out, it can be helpful to use a content management system. CMS allow for multiple authors to edit pieces of content from a single place. These platforms range from free to expensive and robust. Some examples that are popular in ecommerce implementation are Drupal, Adobe and Ektron. Automation platforms can also be helpful. Businesses like HubSpot, Marketo and Eloqua are especially relevent in B2B marketing campaigns.
For more on how you can optimize your online store, blog, and social media properties for a content marketing strategy, read the full article from Practical Ecommerce here.
With only a few months left in the year, it’s a good time to sit down with your team to discuss how to improve your digital marketing strategies in preparation for the New Year. In a recent post we introduced five trends in digital marketing that you need to know about. They related to customer service, targeted messaging, original content, mobile marketing, and social partnerships. In the following article, we’ll introduce five more trends in digital marketing that you need to know about in order to effectively connect with new prospects on 2014.
Brands Are More “Human” Than Ever
Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, companies and brands of all sizes have had to learn to become more and more “humanized” over the past few years. These days, online consumers tend make decisions about which companies and brands to buy from based not only on whether or not they are actively using social media sites (that’s a minimum expectation), but also how authentic, transparent, and helpful they are when they engage and participate on those sites. Online consumers want to feel like the companies they choose to support actually care about them. They want to be able to easily relate to companies on a personal, human level. The most successful brands know this, and are constantly implementing strategies that help them seem more “human” in the minds of social-savvy consumers.
This trend will undoubtedly continue on into 2014, and social media will remain a primary tool that businesses can use to connect with more customers on a personal level. As you begin to look through and update your digital marketing strategy in preparation for the New Year, think about ways in which you can make your company or brand appear more human in the eyes and minds of consumers.
Authentic Engagement Builds Trust
For any business, trust plays an important role in building customer growth and brand loyalty. In the last decade, it has become especially important for businesses and brands to invest in effective strategies that help build trust and loyalty among online customers. According to a study by MotiveQuest and Northwestern University, 53% of changes in online and offline sales can be attributed to changes in the number of people advocating for a brand online. One of the ways you can build trust online in 2014 is by authentically engaging with your online communities on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Before you enter into the New Year, think about setting aside time to develop a realistic, consistent, and authentic engagement plan that you can follow and use for all the online communities you plan to participate in.
There Are Passionate Communities Thriving On Places Other Than Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are great places to go to connect with your current and prospective customers, but they likely aren’t the only sites your target audience is using. There are a number of new social media sites and apps that have been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years that you might want to consider developing a presence on for your business. The video-sharing app Vine, for example, has over 40 million registered users and continues to grow each day. According to recent data, a whopping 70 million people are using the social networking and content sharing site Pinterest.
In 2014, consider spending more time interacting with communities on social sites other than (or in addition to) Facebook and Twitter. You might determine that your target audience is actually more active on one of these alternative social media sites. You may also find that your efforts on these alternative sites result in more engagement, more traffic to your website, and more conversions than you typically get as a result of spending time interacting with communities on Facebook and Twitter.
Social Integration Is What Your Customers Expect
Social integration was important to online consumers in 2013, and it will continue to be important for them going into the New Year. When a prospective or returning customer visits an ecommerce site, they expect to be able to find options that allow them to easily interact and share information with their social communities—without having to leave the site to do so. Examples of social integration on websites include links to social media pages created and managed by the business, social media share buttons (like, tweet, +1, share, etc.), and the ability to login or comment using a Facebook, Twitter, or Google account.
If you don’t yet have any of these options on your business website, it’s worth spending time adding them before the New Year. Doing so will help you keep your current social-savvy customers happy, and also give you more credibility when it comes time to convert a prospective buyer visiting your site for the first time.
Visuals Are Powerful
According to research by the 3M Corporation and Zabisco, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. 2013 was undoubtedly the year of the visual for social media sites across the board. Facebook and Twitter both released major updates to their platforms that catered more to visual content, Pinterest and Instagram continued to increase in popularity, and new visual-focused sites and apps like Vine and Snapchat took the industry by storm. In 2014, sharing photos, video, and other forms of visual content will be more important than ever in order to connect to and relate with online consumers. As a business owner or marketing director, it’s your job to put plans in place to develop a variety of visual content pieces (photos, videos, gifs, infographics, slideshows) that can be used in your digital marketing campaigns in 2014.
What other new and emerging digital marketing trends have you been reading about lately? Leave a comment for us below!
Facebook, when used as a marketing tool, can help you drastically increase engagement and activity surrounding your brand. With over one billion users, the chances are high that a segment of your target audience is spending time on this channel. Which begs the question - how do you connect with these individuals and actively promote your business? Your current and prospective customers will begin to frequent your page if you actively post relevant content and promotions.
Here are eight effective promotion tips by Blogtrepreneur to integrate into your Facebook strategy:
1) Questions and Comments
3) Partner with Complementary Brands
4) Contents and Sweepstakes
5) Customer Polls
6) Virtual Games
7) Product Samples and Giveaways
8) Real-Time Engagement
For more on these eight techniques, find the full article on Blogtrepreneur.
The holiday season marks some of the most active online shopping days of the year - Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Site down-time during the busy holiday shopping season can very quickly impact customer experience as well as your bottom line. Before “Cyber Santa” arrives, make sure to perform some preliminary prep to your website.
For more ways to avoid a site blackout on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, read the full GetElastic article.
Since Thanksgiving is late this year and Hanukkah (or Thanksgivukkah, as we like to call it) is starting in November, our “prime holiday shopping time” has shrunk significantly.
But, we’re here to help ease your holiday stresses by giving you the lowdown on holiday shopping!
We’ve pulled together a handy infographic with “Everything You Need to Know About Holiday Shopping” – literally. Below you can find discounts by product, last minute shipping deadlines, carrier costs and useful shopping apps so you can conquer the chaos.
So don’t get mauled at the mall or blow your budget with a last-minute package – shop smart and shop early this holiday season.