The Weekly Shop (27th – 31st January)

In the Weekly Shop this week…more search news from Matt Cutts, the importance of differentiating between content marketing and content for links, how reviews and trust signals can double your conversions and some updates on the EU Consumer Rights Directive.

How trust signals can double your conversions

As we mentioned last week, the role customer reviews are playing on the conversion landscape is increasing significantly with more and more shoppers looking for guidance on their purchasing decisions. This article from Econsultancy looks at how reviews and other trust signals can reassure your customers that they are safe when shopping with you and help to double conversions.

The EU Consumer Rights Directive: should etailers be worried?

You’ve probably heard murmurs of a new EU directive, which has implications for UK retail. It’s called the Directive on Consumer Rights and aims to improve consumer protection when shopping online. There are some good points in the directive, but also some that may concern retailers which this article from Econsultancy explores.

What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Content for Links? The Wrong Answer Could Cost You

This next article explores the importance of differentiating between content for links and content for customers and how the wrong answer could be costly in terms of risk, return on investment and performance.

Study: 34% Of Google Search Results Have Rich Media, 9 Organic Links & 9 Search Ads

Moving onto some search news, a new study has been released that showed that there was rich media on the search results page 34% of the time. The breakdown of rich media showed images appear on 28% of search results pages, news 9%, and shopping 1%. Head over to Search Engine Land for more details of the findings.

Google’s Matt Cutts: Don’t Try To Build Links Through Article Directories

Matt Cutts has popped up once again this week encouraging webmasters not to use article directory websites with the goal of building links. He also tweeted his thoughts on his and you can view his video answer here.

Google & Bing Agree: Past SEO Success Guarantees You Nothing Today

Matt Cutts has also released a new Google webmaster help video which addresses the topic of what an older site can do to maintain its ranking over time. Some useful tips here if you have an older website.

6 SEO predictions for 2014

And to finish off, here are six SEO predictions for 2014 from Search Engine Watch.

How small retailers can compete against big brand stockists

An issue many smaller retailers face is when their competition online is their stockists or wholesalers. The desire to grow direct sales whilst keeping stockists and wholesalers happy is a difficult balancing act.

This is particularly prevalent for fashion brands where larger stockists can more often than not, be more competitive on price and offer free or next day delivery. They are also likely to have much higher marketing budgets and be able to promote products to gain a higher percentage of sales.

There are many industry pressures facing smaller retailers today, not least the constant markdowns and discounts made available by big brand retailers, such as Amazon. The dominance of big retailers entices more customers to hunt for the best price, something that is supported by the prevalence of mobile, where customers can compare prices online while shopping on the high street.

Ultimately, the marketplace is one where price is a key influencer, and one that supports big brand retailers. But what does this mean for the smaller retailer who cannot continually offer discounts or offer free/next day delivery as standard, especially if they operate in the premium/luxury space? Are consumers these days only really interested in grabbing a bargain? I think some are, but some are not.

I was chatting to my Dad over Christmas and we were both having a moan about bad service. It got me thinking about how easy it is to remember when you get poor service, but equally you do remember when you get a great service. People are much more likely to remember, recommend and return to businesses that go the extra mile and provide a great experience, which makes you feel valued as a customer, even if their prices are not the cheapest.

This article looks at how I think smaller retailers can compete against the big boys, which in time may negate the need for them to have a wholesale channel at all. We have certainly seen this with one or two of our clients. To build brand awareness and drive revenue during the early years, they need wholesale. But as the business grows and their direct channels to market mature (website, catalogue and so on), they are able to go it alone.

So where to start?

It has to be the customer.

Who is your typical customer?

  • Who are they demographically and geographically?
  • How often do they buy?
  • What are their interests?
  • What is important to them?
  • What do they like or dislike?
  • What are their daily challenges?

These are just a few of the questions you should ask to try understand exactly who your customers are, enabling you to plan and execute an experience that meets, and exceeds, their expectations.

Emotions are always involved in purchases, so recognising and understanding individual customer circumstances, as well as what is important to them will help you provide a more superior service then your stockists.

Think about building relationships

Customer relationships are different to customer experience. Relationships are not with a product or service, they are with a company or even an individual within that company. You therefore need to build trust with your customers and really develop a relationship to incite loyalty. Have a conversation with your customers, engage with them and stay in touch via social media, email marketing, newsletters and catalogues.

Remember that customer journeys are not linear and people are fickle, so investing time building relationships is what will help keep your brand front of mind when customers are thinking about their next purchase.

The next step is to ensure you have a quality product, informative website and a great delivery service.

When customers are actively browsing, one of the most important things they consider is the product itself. Is it good quality? Is it durable? What are the features? What do other people think? Additionally, be sure to let customers know how the product will make them feel or how will it change their daily life for the better. Again, consider the emotional value of the product.

Add value with great content

Create supplementary product content including detailed style and fit guides, inspirational product development stories, trend or seasonally-focused content, product videos, product reviews and so on. The benefits of this kind of information will be two-fold. You are providing rich, quality content to support your natural search visibility, but you are also enticing customers to buy directly on your site. People will always have doubts or questions about products, so if your content can answers these questions, there is no need for them to go elsewhere.

Consider bespoke incentives

If you cannot compete on price, what other incentives can you offer customers e.g. a ‘3 for 2’ offer or a ‘buy one get one half price’? This still reflects a saving to the customer but you are also encouraging people to buy more.

User experience is key

Ensure your website is easy to use and that your checkout process is quick, intuitive and user friendly. If you’ve got them this far, you definitely don’t want to lose the sale!

Add value to your delivery and personalise your packaging
If you cannot offer free or next day delivery, consider what other benefits you can offer as part of your delivery service. Could you text the customer with updates about the status of their delivery? Can you personalise the packaging? Customers love interesting packaging as well as receiving unique offers, small freebies and personalised messaging in their delivery. Use your customer insight to support what is important to them and use this to your advantage.

These are the small things that will make customers feel special and make the purchase a memorable one.

Loyalty programs

If providing a great product and experience, make sure you offer a loyalty program which can further incentivise customers to come back and buy directly from you. Ensure details are placed in each delivery.

Customer service

Ensure your problem handling process and service recovery is watertight. This is an important part of building trust, loyalty and brand advocacy. If you do everything to fix a problem (or demonstrate that you are doing everything you can) you will instil a good memory over the negative problem they have encountered.

This customer service needs to be delivered via multiple channels. Customers will complain via Facebook just as readily as they will via your contact number.

Managing stockists

Finally, some things to consider when setting up and developing relationships with stockists:

  • If possible, release your collections on your site first, and allow at least two weeks exclusivity on your site. This should enable the search engines to index your content as the primary source which should see your retain high natural visibility for product related searches.
  • If possible, do not allow stockists to bid on your brand name (or similar derivatives) via paid search.
  • Consider limiting the range you sell through stockists, whether this is a limit on product range, or just a limit on selling all product variations.
  • Do not give stockists all your product imagery, videos, etc. This will ensure you retain exclusive ownership of your full range of assets.

With all the above being considered, smaller retailers should not feel like they have to compete against their stockists on price or free/next day delivery. Getting a better understanding of your customer, engaging them in relevant ways and nurturing relationships will help you provide an unbeatable experience for them. Only until you know what your customers truly value, can you deliver a memorable and delightful experience that perhaps your stockists don’t.

People don’t tend to remember where they got the cheapest deal last time, but they do remember where they had a truly great customer experience.

The Weekly Shop (20th – 24th January)

In this week’s Weekly Shop, we have four go-tos to make online reviews work for your business, figures on the UK’s online spending in 2013, an update from Google on whether Facebook and Twitter signals are part of the ranking algorithm and the last in our commercial director’s series of posts for Econsultancy on PPC payment models.

4 Go-Tos To Make Online Reviews Work For Your Business

By now, everyone knows that online reviews can have a tremendous impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions. Review prominence in search results is also rising, as they often appear just below their company website and make up the majority of the top 10 corresponding results. This article from Search Engine Land looks at how local marketers can reap the benefits of online reviews for the best local search visibility.

UK shoppers spent £91bn online in 2013 – and look set to spend £107bn in 2014

According to the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index for December, UK shoppers spent £91bn online in 2013. The internet retailing marketing grew by 16% during the course of the year and it was capped by a final month in which online sales rose by 18%, with £11bn spent up from £9bn in December 2012. More on the figures over on Internet Retailing.

Google’s Matt Cutts: We Don’t Use Twitter Or Facebook Social Signals To Rank Pages

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, has been making search news once again this week with his answer to the question ‘Are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm?’ His short answer was ‘no,’ and he stated that currently Facebook and Twitter pages were treated like any other page due to a number of reasons that are outlined in this article from Search Engine Land.

PPC agency payment models: fixed fee

Towards the end of last year, our commercial director, Ben, started a series of posts for Econsultancy digging into the mechanics of PPC agency pricing models. His final post on the fixed fee model is now live on the Econsultancy blog and if you haven’t already, check out his overview of percentage of spend and pay on performance models.

That’s it for news this week! See you next week.

The Weekly Shop (13th – 17th January 2013)

In this week’s digest..we take a look at the growing demand for menswear, fun brand marketing initiatives and digital marketing and ecommerce trends for 2014.

Retailers must take advantage of fastest growing UK clothing sector: menswear

Last week saw the London Collections: Men’s Fashion event launch in London for the third year running. The event showcases the increasing importance and growing interest in trend-led men’s fashion in the UK. With the UK menswear market forecast to grow by 25.7% in five years, outperforming all other clothing sectors, retailers should act now to satisfy the growing demand for affordable, trend-led pieces.

Ecommerce grows at its fastest rate for three years over Christmas

Probably not a surprise to many of us, but figures from the British Retail Consortium have shown that more of us ‘clicked’ into Christmas than ever before with online non-food sales growing by 19.2% in December and at the fastest rate for three years.

How Fun Brand Initiatives Will Win Customers in 2014

As we’re setting goals and plans for the New Year, an often forgotten resolution is to have fun with our marketing activity. This article from Clickz looks at how retail is at its best when brands create an fun shopping experience using examples from Apple, Uniqlo, WestJet and Kate Spade.

Digital marketing and ecommerce trends for 2014 by Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein

To finish off this week, here are some thoughts from Econsultancy’s CEO Ashley Friedlein on what he feels will be interesting and important in the world of digital marketing and ecommerce for the year ahead.

 

That’s it for this week, but if you’ve found this article useful, why not sign up to receive The Weekly Shop by email each week? Just enter your email in the footer below!

The Weekly Shop (6th -10th January)

Welcome to the first The Weekly Shop of 2014.

To kick things off, we take a look at Christmas 2013′s ecommerce stats, how UK online shoppers’ satisfaction has slipped, retail trends in customer experience and how to link build in 2014.

Christmas 2013 ecommerce stats round up: John Lewis, Amazon, m-commerce

Our first article this week is from Econsultancy, who have rounded up some of Christmas 2013′s ecommerce stats using financial results from several of the big multichannel retailers including John Lewis and Debenhams, as well as data from IBM showing the rise in m-commerce.

UK online shoppers’ satisfaction slips, annual study shows

Every Christmas, customer experience analytics company ForeSee measures the performance of the UK’s top 40 online retailers. For the first time in six years, overall satisfaction levels have fallen. Head over to Internet Retailing to find out more.

Retail trends in customer experience for 2014

As we’ve seen in the above, customer experience is becoming more important than ever in online retail – being empathetic to your customers’ needs and expectations is essential if you are to deliver a meaningful brand experience. This article looks at the four trends that will help shape the retail customer experience in 2014.

Link building the right way in 2014

Link building has changed considerably in recent months, and contrary to what you may have heard, it’s far from being dead but the process has become harder and more time consuming. This article from Clickz looks at how link building is still the best way to improve visibility in the SERPS and how you can safely and successfully link build in 2014.

Build an Audience by Creating Content, not Crap

This article from Clickz really hits the nail on the head with the point of content marketing, which they define as the process of creating and distributing highly relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage clearly defined and understood target audiences. Well worth a read.

Happy reading!

The top five benefits of optimising your paid search account structure

At Leapfrogg, we often inherit paid search accounts from clients (and their incumbent agencies) which have a poor structure resulting in poor management and performance. We immediately look to create a clear account structure to set the foundations of our strategy moving forwards. A good structure should incorporate the strategy at an ad, keyword, and ad group and campaign level.

The points below are what I believe to be the top five benefits of putting together a strong AdWords or Bing Ads account structure.

1. Establish areas of focus and control

Maximising the revenue potential for key search terms is vital for a strong performance. For example, for a retailer of wedding rings the term ‘wedding rings’ is highly relevant and will hold high search volume. To not limit this term by budget – put your top exact match keyword in a campaign by itself. This then allows the important keyword to run with its own budget, allowing the potential for conversion optimiser and AdWords Campaign Experiments etc.

2. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs)

An audience targeting strategy, powered by RLSAs , should be of utmost importance to advertisers nowadays. Using this feature to identify whether your campaigns are targeting a previous visitor or a new visitor to the client’s website is highly beneficial to campaign performance and understanding audience behaviours.

Having used this feature for several of our clients, I feel it is best used at a campaign level. Setting up separate campaigns targeting new and returning visitors allows us to change ad copy, target broader search terms and adjust bidding strategies as returning visitors know the brand and are likely to be ‘hotter’ leads.

3. Day-to-day management

All advertisers have budget limitations and KPIs to reach, so the day-to-day management of campaign performance is pivotal. To be able to manage performance daily, a solid structure of campaigns is required to show product areas at a granular level without creating unnecessary campaigns, which can make the account difficult to manage. This allows the advertiser to quickly identify performance and spend by product area. For example, rather than one campaign for clothing, you should separate this by ‘trousers’, ‘shirts’, ‘knitwear’, etc or even ‘men’s shirts,’ ‘women’s shirts’, ‘small shirts’ and so on. The approach will be dependant on multiple factors such as product range and search volumes.

4. Budget allocation

Following on from the day-to-day management of the account, creating campaigns for specific product areas allows you to allocate budget in relation to campaign performance and overall budgets. Due to budget limitations or poor performance, the advertiser may want to spend less on particular terms. A benefit of a good account structure is that it allows the advertiser to limit click spend and affect performance at a campaign level.

Another benefit is that it allows an advertiser to allocate enough daily budget to effectively ‘uncap’ particular campaigns. A poor structure could result in particular terms using up the campaigns daily budget before other terms have had a chance to gather impressions and clicks.

5. Search term to ad relevancy

To achieve a high click-through-rate the ad copy must be highly relevant to the searchers query. For the structure to help achieve this, I recommend grouping related keywords at a granular level so that the ad copy can be tailored to each group of search terms. For example, rather than one ad group for ‘trousers’, create several ad groups with tailored ad copy and search terms such as; ‘red trousers’, ‘corduroy trousers’, ‘red corduroy trousers’ etc.

Although a lot of the points above are simple setup tasks, a strong account structure from ad creatives to campaign grouping will benefit several key tasks for an advertiser. Creating a strong structure in line with your strategy will help result in executing the above benefits.

Festive fashion online campaigns

After a particularly unsuccessful Christmas shopping trip last weekend, I decided to do the only sensible thing and take matters online.

Obviously, being me, I soon ended up doing a bit of ‘wish list’ shopping for myself on a couple of my favourite sites and I was met with number of different Christmas campaigns and homepages. I thought it was really interesting to see how brands were using their digital platforms to create a memorable online customer experience and engage their customers this festive season. It definitely makes the whole Christmas shopping experience a lot less tedious and any gift ideas and inspiration is always appreciated in my book! Below is a round-up of some of my favourites from this year.

Dear Topshop

Dear Topshop

Topshop’s homepage has recently been taken over by the launch of ‘Dear Topshop’ – the brands first global and fully-integrated Pinterest Christmas campaign.

‘Dear Topshop’ allows users to pull together Topshop items from across all of the brands platforms. By searching through categories such as ‘A Gift that will wow’ and ‘all things that sparkle’ consumers can pin items and share them on their own boards, while the top pinned products are showcased on Topshop.com’s homepage each day. To add an element of competition, Topshop have also given customers the opportunity to win a Topshop Shopping Spree by submitting their Pinterest boards to them.

Topshop also bought the campaign in-store by producing giant touchscreens in their flagship stores which allow shoppers to interact with the campaign. The campaign is a really nice example of how retailers are using Pinterest’s newly launched API and it really capitalises on the popularity of Pinterest as a place to collect fashion inspirations and ideas.

Whistles Advent Calendar

Whistles Advent Calendar

This is a regular Christmas campaign for Whistles, being their fourth advent calendar, but they’ve proved really popular with Whistles fans and are always very creative.

Every day, Whistles invites users to visit the advent calendar and ‘crack the ice’ by clicking their mouse repeatedly to reveal a different prize, discount or offer. I really liked the addition of interactivity here as it creates a bit of suspense as to what the prize might be. Once the prize has been revealed, users are given the chance to win by providing Whistles with their e-mail address which signs them up to their mailing list. They are also encouraged to tweet and share on Facebook to win.

By taking part in the advent calendar, Whistles are creating a desire to go back to the website each day and users are also able to look back through the previous days at what prizes they missed and also get a sneaky peek of future prizes through the ‘ice.’ It’s a really nice way to showcase Whistles range of stock and encourage repeat custom.

Harvey Nichols #sorryispentitonmyself

I love this tongue-in-cheek viral campaign from Harvey Nichols, which definitely takes an alternative view of Christmas shopping. Through their #imsorryispentitonmyself campaign, Harvey Nichols encourage shoppers to spend as little on their loved ones as possible in favour of indulging themselves. They have also produced a limited range of ultra-low cost Harvey Nichols branded gifts for those who understand that a cheap gift for their nearest and dearest means a bigger gift for themselves. I particularly like the real plastic door stop for £1.43 and authentic Lincolnshire gravel for £1.61 which amazingly sold out within a few days of the campaign launch. Genius!

Harvey Nichols ultra low cost gifts

Burberry

The British luxury brand Burberry has launched a festive campaign called ‘Burberry with Love.’ The advert is a culmination of their entire year’s worth of campaigns celebrating love and romance including its Burberry Kisses campaign in collaboration with Google.

The campaign is supported by a ‘full festive takeover’ of their social media and they are also celebrating ‘25 days of Christmas’ by publishing images and videos on their Instagram each day.

Mulberry

Mulberry Fairy Tales

This is a really nice example of a brand combining its offline and online presence to create a festive campaign. The iconic handbag and fashion brand has taken over five windows at Harrods to tell a branded fairy tale to engage consumers this holiday season. A theme that is likely to tap into consumer’s nostalgia for the childhood fairy stories and to provide a memorable customer experience when shopping for Mulberry gifts.

Online, the Mulberry website has also been transformed into a fairy tale wonderland, and they’ve used the theme to display its gifts, allowing you to ‘Shop the Fairy Story.’ Mulberry also allowed all of its followers to join in its window unveiling by tweeting from the event and sharing photos on its Instagram account and transformed its Twitter profile page to match the snowy fairy tale theme of its campaign.

ASOS

ASOS have been running their #tonightis campaign since September which embraces the idea of ‘living in the moment.’

For Christmas they have teamed up with the @OfficialSanta Twitter account and asked consumers to build their ultimate ASOS wish list and tweet it straight into him with the hashtag #tonightis.

@OfficialSanta has been replying to people’s wishes using personalised Vine’s and handing out on the spot prizes from people’s wish lists. I really like the effort they’ve gone too with creating personalised videos and it definitely created lots of buzz around the campaign.

The Goodhood Store

Probably, one of the lesser known brands on this list but Goodhood Store is definitely one of my favourite online stores to have a browse around. It stocks a wide range of contemporary menswear, women’s wear and homeware and its online shop is an excellent extension of its physical store in Shoreditch.

I’m a big fan of clean, minimalist, colour co-ordinated design and I really do like their beautifully curated gift guides which allow you to click on the items to buy and also share them via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest etc. There are various gift guides on the site including gifts for men, women and home all of which are aesthetically pleasing. I like the way they’ve used their online shop in a similar way to a physical shop by choosing products that really complement each other. The whole experience is really user-friendly and really is a pleasure to shop.

Goodhood Store

Liberty of London

While this is not exactly an online campaign, I still thought it was worth including because I love the shop and equally loved the documentary.

While many of the big retailers are investing millions in television adverts and campaigns, Liberty of London has opened its doors to Channel 4 to produce a three part documentary that follows their eccentric employees in the run up to Christmas. You can also meet the staff over on their website and they’ve embedded footage of the staff on various department pages on their website. Other retailers must be green with envy as Liberty has managed to wangle approximately 156 hours of free coverage in the busiest shopping month of the year and I don’t doubt that the series will have a huge impact on the footfall to their shop and visits to their website.

Liberty London Documentary

So there you have it; just a few of the festive fashion campaigns I’ve seen floating around the internet this Christmas. Which one is your favourite and are there any other good ones that I have missed?

The Weekly Shop (9th – 13th December)

In The Weekly Shop this week, we have a white paper around customer experiences at Christmas, some tips on how you can build loyalty during a long purchase cycle, how retailers can leverage unique identifiers and structured data and an article from the Froggblog around the recent updates to Google’s Analytics and Webmaster tools.

Providing exceptional customer experiences at Christmas time

First up is a white paper from eDigitalResearch which examines how consumers rate their current contact with brands during the festive period and what they feel should be done to better their experiences at Christmas as a whole. The white paper yielded some interesting findings and is well worth a read. 

How marketers can build loyalty during a long purchase cycle

A key element for a majority of loyalty programs is product purchase frequency which enables members to earn more reward currency and keep the products and program on the forefront top of mind. But what happens when you have products without this high rate of purchase frequency? This article from Econsultancy looks at how implement a successful loyalty program with a little creative thinking and a different approach.

How Online Retailers Can Leverage Unique Identifiers & Structured Data

This article from Search Engine Land looks at how what we have learned to date about entity search, semantic search and the semantic web and how it can be applied to ecommerce. The article contains some useful tips on how online retailers can leverage unique identifiers and structured data for ecommerce.

Latest Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools updates in a nutshell

Our last article is from our Senior Natural Search Consultant, Ben. There has been a plethora of updates in recent weeks and months to Google’s Analytics and Webmaster Tools and in his article Ben takes a closer look at the three key recent updates not to be missed if you want to maximise your online marketing campaigns. More over on the Froggblog.

That’s it for this week. Happy reading!

The Weekly Shop (2nd – 6th December)

In The Weekly Shop this week…we look at the launch of the first railway station parcel collection point, a new nation of ‘smart shoppers’, how understanding the traits of online shoppers can drive conversions and 10 tips for planning your New Year sales customer journey.

Network Rail launches the first railway station parcel collection point that’s open to all retailers and carriers

Following on from the news last week that Asda are launching click and collect services at six London Underground car parks, Network Rail is following suit and will be trialling ecommerce parcel shops at unused space at mainline stations. The first collection point opened on Tuesday at Milton Keynes Central with more sites to follow at UK railway stations throughout 2014.

Smart shoppers combine high tech with high street to beat Christmas rush – saving a seven mile walk

New research from O2 has revealed that we are turning into a nation of ‘smart shoppers’, using technology to shop on our own terms this Christmas. The research has found that the average Brit visits 21 retail websites each week on their hunt for presents, notching up a staggering 425 minutes online – the equivalent of walking over 7 miles to browse the same range of products. The research also highlights the growing trend for consumers to blend offline and online services to meet their needs. More over on Internet Retailing.

Understanding the traits of online shoppers to drive conversions

Now onto another study which has identified that just over 1% of an ecommerce site’s users contribute 40% of its revenue. By analysing 950m page views from more than 123m website visits, the research found that whilst this 1.06% of total visitors generates four tenths of a site’s income, there are a further 20% of site visitors who will visit regularly, but never make a purchase. With this research in mind, this article from Econsultancy looks at the traits of these very different consumers and how can you use this information to convince them to shop more, not less.

10 tips for planning your New Year sales customer journey

Here’s a timely article from our Managing Director, Rosie Freshwater, on planning for your New Year sales customer journey. In her blog, Rosie provides us with her top 10 tips to using the busy sales period to increase retention, loyalty and revenue by placing the customer at the heart of the buying experience.

SEO Changed Forever In 2013. How To Adjust And Thrive In 2014

It’s clear that the changes we’ve seen in search throughout 2013 have been aimed at creating a better experience for the searcher. In this article from Search Engine Land, Jim Lui looks back at the key innovations search has seen in 2013 and how you can stay ahead of the game as a SEO Marketer in 2014 by putting the user first.

Three key steps towards a customer focused digital transformation

Last but not least, some food for thought from Econsultancy. This article looks at how brands must digitally transform to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their customers. With 2014 being a time to make new resolutions, Glen Hartman looks at the three main areas businesses should focus on to start their journey to achieving a successful customer-centric transformation to reap the resulting benefits long after we ring in the New Year. A recommended read.

That’s it for this week. Happy reading!

10 tips for planning your New Year sales customer journey

In the build up to Christmas many retailers will be focusing on getting as many sales as possible and providing the best possible experience for their customers before the big day. Once Christmas is over and we move into the sales period, many retailers rely on just the price cuts to gain revenue and consequently place the customer experience at the bottom of priorities.

But how many retailers really understand how many of their customers buy at full price in the run up to Christmas and will purchase again in sale period opposed to their number of one-time sales customers?

If a large proportion of those who buy during sales period are those that buy items at full price during the rest of the year, ensuring they receive the right experience at all times is the key to high retention and loyalty.

On the flip side, those new customers you acquire during sale period could well move on to be full price buyers in the long term if they are given a good experience during their first purchase, no matter what discount they are given.

With this in mind, here are our top 10 tips to using the sales period to increase retention and loyalty as well as revenue by placing the customer at the heart of the buying experience.

1. Segment your database into those customers who have bought items at full price and those that only ever buy from you during the sales period. Set up your Electronic Customer Relationship Management (ECRM) program to send two different sets of emails before and during sale period to those segments.

2. One week before your sale period, send an exclusive ‘sneak peek’ sale email to your full price customers highlighting items featured in the sale that match the items they have bought from you recently. On sale start day send another email to launch the sale and give an exclusive discount to your loyal customers or offer free delivery on all sale items during sale period.

3. On sale launch day send an email to your sale only buyers with no special offer but just highlighting the great savings and deals to be made during the sales period.

4. Send each segment sale reminder emails twice a week throughout the sales period with special offers tailored to previous items they have bought or viewed/added to basket on the site. Switch between product focused and editorial content. Customers still want to engage with the brand when buying in sale as well as getting the discount!

5. Ensure all new customers you win during sales period are welcomed properly and given the best possible delivery and post purchase communication. Make sure you bring them into your ECRM program for future engagement.

6. Select key items from your sale and invite significant bloggers to style the ‘best of the sale’ using them. Feature the content on your site as you go into the sale and include across your website and email campaigns as engaging and inspirational sale content.

7. Ensure that you encourage as many reviews as possible on all items you sell pre-Christmas through post purchase correspondence and on flyers within your packaging. The rise in reviews will help sell products during sale period.

8. Encourage sale buyers to engage on social media and share pictures of their sale purchases. You could perhaps run a competition where those sharing their sale items can win the chance to do a trolley dash in store or online on the last day of sale. Again, feature this content on your site and in editorial emails as inspiration to others.

9. Ensure you maintain your high standards of delivery and packaging for sale items. One bad delivery experience can put a full price buyer off for life.

10. Ensure you keep on top of stock levels and remove all those out of stock items from the site immediately. There really is nothing worse for your customers than seeing a great deal online and not being able to purchase.

Of course, there are many other ways you can keep delivering a tailored experience to your customers. However, these are the areas that will have the most impact on the buying experience during the sales period that will not cost you extra budget when you are slashing margin.

Remember, your customers demand a seamless brand experience at all times from you.
Good luck!