The top five customer service factors that will increase customer loyalty

To many, the word “customer service” represents the services that a retailer gives their customers post-purchase to ensure the order arrives smoothly or that any faults or questions from customers are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.

However, this is no longer the case as the world of retail is changing in line with the demands and expectations of the modern day consumer. Customer service now also relates to the way the retailer communicates with the consumer throughout the entire buying journey.

Customer service begins at the consideration period. Video chats with customer service representatives, answering enquiries on Twitter and reviewing responses from the brand on social media are just some of the ways in which the level of service from a retailer will influence the purchase decision.

Moving across to the moment of purchase – customer service also plays a huge role. The ease of the online purchase funnel, the ability to read other customer reviews, offers of free, fast or convenient click and collect delivery are all elements of customer service that affect the point of conversion.

Post-purchase, the traditional elements of responding to queries, delivery problems, product faults and returns come into play, but how the retailer communicates with the customer to form an ongoing relationship is part of customer service. Sending personalised emails, relevant offers, offering loyalty programs and engaging on social media are all ways in which retailers provide a top service to their customers.

Customer experience and customer service are interchangeable as both disciplines are focused solely on the happiness of the customer.

The modern consumer expects incredibly high standards of customer service from the brands he/she chooses to shop with. We have listed below the five key elements a retailer must have in place to meet expectations and create a profitable ongoing relationship with its customers.

1. Delivering on promise

Simply put, retailers MUST deliver on their promises. Offers must be honoured, items must be in stock, and products must come in top condition and on time.

John Lewis Delivery options

2. Continuing the brand experience

Many retailers focus on delivering a brilliant service to potential customers to entice them into making a purchase, but then forget to carry on that high level of experience post-purchase. Order confirmations and delivery notes can be bland and unengaging, social media channels too sales focused and packaging can be uninspiring. Retailers must put the same amount of effort into their messaging and content post-purchase as they do pre-purchase. They must work to deliver an amazing ongoing brand experience to retain their customers long term.

3. Remember and personalise

It is important that a consumer feels valued by the brands they buy from. A great way for retailers to show they value their customers is to remember who they are and personalise communication towards them. Personalisation is much more than remembering a customers’ name in an email. Retailers should be curating products and content within emails and website to match the preferences and previous shopping habits of their and their customers. They should aim to find out what is important to their customers and tailor their communication accordingly.

Feel Unique email sign up form

Feel Unique’s email sign up form asks customers about specific beauty concerns in order to personalise their communications.

4. Ask their opinion

By asking your customers opinion on topics such as product development and promotions will show your customers that you really value them.

We are not suggesting that a retail strategy should then be driven wholly by their customers, but there have been many cases where asking customers their thoughts on your business and products they would like to be introduced has led to very successful changes being implemented. There are many ways in which you can gather your customers’ opinions, such as social media or email, so there is no reason why retailers should not be garnering insights from their customer base on a regular basis.

Screengrab of asking customers about products

Pai skincare asked their customers what products they would like to see introduced to the range.

5. Reward for loyalty

Every retailer will have a pool of customers who are loyal and shop with them multiple times a year. To retain those customers, retailers cannot just rely on great products. Great service will, of course, encourage those customers to remain loyal, but the icing on the cake, especially for those of high value or potentially high value is to reward them and thank them for their custom. Retailers don’t have to give money off as a reward; there are plenty of other ways to reward customers from, exclusive product previews and events to express delivery and free gifts. Retailers must choose the rewards that match the needs of their most valuable customers.

SpaceNK Birthday gift

SpaceNK offers a free product to their customers’ on their birthday.

In a nutshell, the most important ways for retailers to ensure their customers come back time and time again is to take the time to truly understand the service that their customers want and deliver that service, tailored to them. It isn’t a quick process to become customer-centric in this way, but every change that a retailer makes with customer happiness in mind is one step further towards that utopia.

A closer look at Habitat – the most engaging online furniture retailer

Back in September, we launched our first ever Customer Engagement Awards. After a month of voting from our Premium Panel, the public and a panel of retail experts we were delighted to announce the winning brands across a number of retail sectors.

In this series of blog posts, we will be taking a closer look into why the winning brands are leading the way with customer engagement by delivering relevant content and engaging socially with their customers.

First up is Habitat who was voted the most engaging online furniture brand and scored 13/25 in our first engagement report.

In our analysis, Habitat scored highly in terms of the engagement they received on their own on-site content. We were impressed by the content they produced, but felt a key takeaway for the brand was to cascade this content consistently across their social channels and use it to excite their audience further.

The Habitat website is a great resource for those interested in interiors with everything from iconic product stories and information about their designers to their heritage and Habitat’s role in modern culture.

We enjoyed their #HabitatVoyeur campaign which accompanies their recent television adverts. This campaign takes a look into the homes of some of the UK’s creative individuals and shares their interiors inspiration. The content doesn’t just share inspirational interior design, it also introduces readers to exciting people in the fashion, food and drink world and does a great job of making you feel “in the know” and that you are accessing exclusive content.

Screenshot of Habitat's coolest Habitats

Habitat has also produced humorous videos which give instructions on how to be a #habitatvoyeur, tapping into the fact that many of us enjoy a snoop around other peoples’ homes.

To engage their audience further and spread the idea of Habitat voyeurism, they recently ran a competition, in which they invited people to upload an image of their home in order to win a voucher which produced user-generated content and engagement across their social channels and allowed consumers to become part of the brand.

Screenshot of Habitat user generated content

On-site, Habitat has a blog section which includes buying guides, stories behind their products and gift guides and inspiration. However, this content is very tucked away on their website and should be given more prominence on their website and social channels. It would be great to see the product stories incorporated into their product pages to really bring them to life. Buying guides can also improve conversion rate as they help customers make an informed choice.

Habitat received the most engagement for their own content on Twitter followed by Facebook. Their strategy on Twitter also see’s them retweet happy customers and mentions of their brand whilst sharing their own content. There is a good mix of post types including images, video and mentions from bloggers. They also reply to customers order queries and complaints in a timely manner. A nice touch is that they reply to any Twitter user who submits a #HabitatVoyeur image, but it would be even more brilliant if they could make this more personalised to each customer.

Over on Instagram, the brand has been steadily growing their following. Their images are all vibrant and modern and very reminiscent of the Habitat brand and their products. As well as sharing products, they also share images from their #HabitatVoyeur campaign, behind the scenes ‘sneak peeks’, press mentions and images of their products in context. However, some posts weren’t receiving a huge amount of engagement compared to other brands.

Habitat Instagram

Facebook, although full of content, is one way and the engagement is mainly in the form of Likes.  A development for Habitat could be using their #HabitatVoyeur campaign to engage more of a conversation with users. They could ask more questions, survey fans on what rooms they like most, or even offer the opportunity to be interviewed by Habitat and share their customers’ inspirational images to push their voyeurism theme even further.

You can read more in our furniture engagement report here.

Insight Edit: How much personalisation do today’s premium consumers want?

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of over 1000 retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

Personalisation is a growing trend for retailers looking to enhance their customer experience.

Leading retailers are building various forms of personalisation into their marketing tactics. It is no longer enough to just address emails personally, consumers now expect the content of their emails to be personalised to their shopping habits and preferences. Website content can be tailored according to previous behaviour and display ads can be shown according to the way a consumer has behaved across multiple websites.

Although these tactics create a very relevant experience for consumers, we are also conscious there in a thin line between ‘creepy’ and ‘cool.’

In light of this, we wanted to understand our Premium Panel’s attitude to personalisation. We asked them how important it was that the brands they buy from personalise their communications based on their preferences and previous purchases.

Premium Panel survey

A further 35% were indifferent, deeming it neither important nor unimportant. This means that only 12% think it unimportant that brands personalise the experience.

These figures show how important it is that retailers begin to build an element of personalisation into the experience they give their customers. Showing your customers you are aware of their favourite products or providing offers that suit them will not only generate additional sales but also increase loyalty too. By personalising the experience you give your customers across any channel, you can show them that they are a valued customer.

If you can make your customers happy, they will ultimately buy more and remain loyal. It’s a win-win situation. There are plenty of clever tools to allow retailers to start using personalisation across their digital channels with very little cost implication. So what are you waiting for?

Five simple tips to get your site in shape for Christmas

Last year, our Website Optimisation Manager, Suze, gave some great conversion rate optimisation tips for maximising online sales at Christmas time. To follow on from her recommendations, I have provided a few more tips to ensure you ride the sleigh of success straight to the North Pole this holiday season.

 

 

Give your page titles and meta descriptions the attention they deserve

Your page titles and meta descriptions are essentially your organic ad copy and are often neglected.  As the volume of searches ramps up towards Christmas, a fraction of an improvement on your click-through rate could mean additional sales or enquiries to help hit those vital targets.

Ensure your listings stand out in the crowded SERPs with well written and thought out page titles and enticing meta descriptions. You can take this a step further by adding mark-up to your page content to add rich snippets such as product stock level, star ratings and price to your results. You can do this using schema.org or to some extent Google Search Console’s Data Highlighter.

Check for ‘page not found’ errors in Google’s Search Console

A link to a ‘page not found’ is a lost link. It can also mean a search engine drops your page from its index and offers visitors a poor user experience. Google Search Console kindly shares ‘page not found’ errors as it finds them. Work to get these cleared up before the Christmas rush.

'Page not found' errors

Page load speed

Spend some time checking how fast your most important pages load. How do they compare to the site average, are they slow? Do they load slowly on mobile devices? Is there anything you can do to speed them up?

All of this information can be found by taking a look in Google Analytics to see how long it is actually taking your pages to load for site visitors.

Page load speed in Google Analytics

Use Google’s Page Insights tool to identify what you can do to speed up your pages. One of the most common issues that slows page load is having large images. Lossless compression of your images is also probably the easiest (if time consuming) thing to work on.

Check mobile usability

Again Google’s Search Console can help you out here; it will point you in the direction of pages with mobile usability issues and provide some detail how to resolve the issue.

Mobile usability

Have a dig around analytics for any other potential site issues

Look at what happened last year. What pages performed well? Which ones didn’t?

Take a look at what pages had high exit and bounce rates last year. Was there a reason for that? Is there anything
you can do to improve these pages, for example, can you help your users better navigate your site with improved signposting on these pages? Is the information the searcher is looking for immediately obvious?

It doesn’t look good to Google if there is a large proportion of searches bouncing straight back to the SERPs from your pages.

Potential site issues

Optimise your images for search

Finally optimise your images, give them friendly names, and set the alt attribute to something that describes the image. People use Google Image search to look for products so you need to make sure yours are there.

 

As you can see, there are a couple of quick wins you can make to your website to ensure that you are maximising your online sales this Christmas.  With only 41 days to go, don’t delay in making these changes. Good luck!

Image via Kaboompics.com.

 

How to put the customer at the heart of your digital marketing

In today’s consumer-led world, there’s no denying that crafting a great customer experience across all channels is firmly rooted as the key to success.

Those retailers who truly understand the needs and expectations of their customers and are able to deliver a positive, seamless experience across multiple touchpoints – from in-store, to mobile, online, email, sales and customer service – will ultimately prosper.

Whilst most retailers agree that designing and delivering the perfect customer experience is the key to success, there are many challenges they face in doing so, from data and insight through to back-end technology and larger structural changes. Digital marketers in particular face the ongoing challenge of knowing where to invest to get the best return when there is such a myriad of marketing opportunities and tactics available to them.

Our solution is to get into a customer-first mindset.

Basing decisions on actual insight and feedback from customers allows digital marketers to cut through the noise and make more informed decisions.

We believe that everyone in an organisation has a responsibility to be customer-centric and for this reason, we have produced a step by step guide on how to keep the customer at the heart of your everyday marketing activity. We explain how to get clever with customer insight in order to make smarter decisions and improve the results of your day-to-day marketing activity.

We hope you find the report a useful read. If you have any questions, please do get in touch to find out more about how you can use customer insight to put the customer at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Download the report button

 

The Hype – Digital innovations at London Fashion Week

In this edition of The Hype, we look at the retailers and designers that have showcased fashion and digital at London Fashion Week (LFW).

Every season, the role of digital becomes more prevalent at Fashion Week as more and more brands harness the power of online. Now you don’t even have to be in the Frow in order to interact and engage with the shows, as more and more designers bring their collections to consumers via technology.

Burberry’s Snapchat story

Burberry on Snapchat

The digital pioneer that is Burberry inevitably stood out this year due to their innovative use of Snapchat.
 
In a first for a luxury brand, Burberry created a Snapchat story which revealed its spring 16 collection the night before its Fashion Week show to Snapchat’s 100 million users. The preview remained on Burberry’s story for 24 hours and was then followed up by a ‘Burberry Live Story’ that combined crowd-sourced Burberry show-related video and images into a single stream on Snapchat. The content then of course disappeared after 24 hours giving it a real feel of exclusivity. I’ve seen many brands use Snapchat, but it has often felt like the brand has been thinking ‘platform-first, content-second’, but in Burberry’s case, its use of the platform felt polished and really added value to their show.
 
Prior to Fashion Week, Burberry also launched another first for a fashion brand – a music channel on Apple Music. You can find the channel in the ‘curators’ section and it showcases collaborations with British artists in the form of songs, playlists, films and performances that are all in keeping with the Burberry brand.
 
The campaign was clearly a success as data from Brandwatch showed that Burberry was the most talked about designer on social this season – pulling in over 40,000 tweets – over 10% of the total tweets about London Fashion Week.
 
Former CEO Angela Ahrendts (now retail boss at Apple) was responsible for putting digital at the heart of Burberry’s business strategy, which has included launching live catwalk streaming and the ‘Art of the Trench’ mini-site. Last year during LFW, Burberry also partnered with Twitter to launch a click-to-buy button for Burberry products as they were modeled on the runway. 

Topshop’s Pinterest Palettes

Topshop Pinterest Palettes screenshot Topshop is the only high-street brand on the fashion-week schedule, and their Unique Show which is now in its 23rd season, has become one of the most highly anticipated shows.
 
In order to engage their entire customer base in the London Fashion Week excitement, Topshop teamed up with Pinterest to launch ‘Pinterest Palettes.’ Their online tool scans and identifies colour trends based on either a user’s individual Pinterest boards or those curated by Topshop on the trends they spotted in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Based on the colour palette selected, Topshop then provides shoppable recommendations from their online store. According to the team, a potential 16.8m colour combinations will be possible, providing unique results for every user.
 
For those in London, Topshop hosted a pop-up on the lower ground floor of its Oxford Circus flagship that offers shoppers the ability to explore their Pinterest boards on iPads, and print out their our Pinterest Palettes colour inspiration cards. Their personal shopping team is also offering colour advice tailored to customers’ individual colour spectrums.
 
According Brandwatch’s analysis of Fashion Week, Topshop secured largest number of sponsor mentions.

House of Holland NFC-enabled wearables

Eclectic English Fashion Designer, Henry Holland teamed up with Visa Europe to combine fashion, wearable technology and payments in another Fashion Week first. At his London Fashion Week show, front-row guests were given a Henry Holland-designed ring – created just for the event which featured integrated NFC technology, which linked up to a number of pieces containing a payment receiver tag. This was then linked via Bluetooth Smart technology to a virtualised terminal and Visa’s payment network. Guests could then purchase items directly from the runway which could then be picked up after the show. On speaking of the wearables, Holland said he designed the “connected jewelry” with fashion in mind and it was important to him that the technology was completely invisible.  

Hunter goes live on Periscope


British heritage brand Hunter Originals utilised live-streaming app, Periscope, at their London Show to extend the reach of their brand to a broader audience with a series of live mobile gigs in the build up to its show.

Hunter launched #BeaHeadliner Mobile Sessions on the app to showcase music and interviews from up and coming musicians which were filmed as the musicians travel to see the show in Hunter-branded 4×4 vehicles. The #Beaheadliner campaign tied in nicely to the brand’s association with music festivals as the label’s Wellingtons have long been the staple footwear at festivals. Hunter will continue to use the hashtag post Fashion Week to promote upcoming musicians during festival season.

According to DigiDay, Hunter Originals was the fourth most tweeted about show, fifth most tweeted about brand, and received over 40,000 Instagram interactions.

That’s it for our round-up. Which brands and designers stood out for you at Fashion Week this year?

The Hype: what’s hot and happening in premium retail this month?

Welcome to The Hype – a monthly digest of the hottest products, trends and innovations from the world of premium and luxury retail, hand-picked by our Premium Panel.

Selfridges Opens Christmas Shop 143 days before the big day

Last week Selfridges claimed to be the first department store in the world to open its 2015 Christmas shop as it bids to capitalise on summer tourist trade.

Selfridges has transformed 3,000 square feet of its fourth floor into a winter wonderland filled with festive treasure, gifts and decorations. The department store’s theme for Christmas 2015 centres around ‘Journey to the Stars’, which store bosses said is its “most unconventional Christmas scheme to date.”

This year’s big trends include personalised decorations, black and white monochrome and iconic London decorations, which are expected to prove popular with their key target audience of tourists. What do you think – too early?

Etsy to launch in Selfridges as it moves into UK bricks-and-mortar space

As part of Selfridges ‘festive concept space’ mentioned above, the online marketplace, Etsy, will be launching a pop up space as the online marketplace takes a further step into the bricks-and-mortar space in the UK.

Etsy, which sells handmade and unique products created by around 1.4 million sellers across the globe, will stock a host of products based around Selfridges’ ‘Journey to the Stars’ Christmas theme.

At least six Etsy sellers will be selling products such as dream catchers and astrological prints at the store. The sellers will also be on hand to lay on live crafting sessions at Selfridges.

Cambridge Satchel Company x Vivienne Westwood

After printing the leather comes making the @viviennewestwoodofficial bags… Are you getting excited? #CSCxVW

A video posted by camsatchelco (@camsatchelco) on

July also saw accessories brand The Cambridge Satchel Company team up with iconic designer Vivienne Westwood for the second time to produce a limited edition collection of bags.

The new collection features three of The Cambridge Satchel Company’s styles in three lust-worthy colour ways printed with Westwood’s iconic squiggle print. The print is screen printed directly on to the leather by the printer that has produced Westwood’s iconic Pirate Boots for over 30 years.

The range is available exclusively at Vivienne Westwood and The Cambridge Satchel Company’s stores and cambridgesatchel.com and definitely offers a more affordable option to anyone lusting after a Vivienne Westwood bag. You can take a look at the collection here.

Harvey Nichols uses CCTV footage of real shoplifters in new advert

High-end department store Harvey Nichols has become renowned for creating controversial adverts that get people talking, and their latest ad for their new Rewards app, continues their tried and tested formula.

The online film, created by Adam&EveDDB and produced by the Layzell Brothers at Blink, shows security footage of real-life shoplifters stealing from Harvey Nichols and being caught by security staff. The shoplifters’ identities are concealed by the addition of cartoon animated faces which adds a touch of humour to the advert.

In addition to the online film, there is also a print campaign, showing stylish shoppers being caught red-handed, and in-store activity reminding potential shoplifters that there’s now a legal way to get a freebie by using their new loyalty app.

 

Christmas in July: what should you be planning now?

With the summertime (supposedly) in full swing, the last thing anyone wants to do is start thinking about the upcoming festive season. However, for online retailers, Christmas really does come early and identifying a strategy now can make the difference between success or failure at the most important time in the retail calendar.

To highlight this point event further, last year Ometria found that customers acquired at Christmas time are 59% more likely to purchase again the next year, when compared to those who were acquired at other points in the year. Christmas is therefore a great time to acquire loyal customers, not just one-off seasonal purchasers.

Every year, we feature our top tips to start planning for the Christmas season and although we still stand by what we suggested in 2014, we’ve expanded on a few of the points and provided some new tips to help you get prepared…

Speak to your customers!

Our Managing Director, Rosie Freshwater, is a huge advocate of running surveys to gain insight about your customers and establish their shopping behaviour. Create a simple survey using a service like Survey Monkey and offer your customers an incentive for filling it in such as a giveaway or discount. Ask them if they are likely to shop with you for Christmas gifts this year and if so, what categories, price points and people they will be shopping for. This will give you a good steer on where to spend your marketing budget.

We also suggest asking your customers how you can give them the perfect shopping experience this Christmas. Ask questions around preferred delivery options, customer service channels and gift wrapping, as well as the types of gifts they will be looking to buy and who they will be buying for. Use this insight to get your Christmas promotions on point.

In a nutshell, it’s crucial to understand and profile your customers and then build your marketing strategy around them.

Get your website up to speed

Google satisfaction

As well as the survey questions above, ask your customers what they think about your website and invest some user testing sessions to identity any issues on your website. Services like WhatUsersDo are great help identity any issues in your customer journey and the user experience of your website. By doing this now, you’ll allow yourself ample time to make any necessary changes to your site.

Start a program of CRO testing, so you can be sure that your landing pages are converting well when it comes to the key Christmas period. Consider the page layouts, your basket, usability of checkout and test what are good merchandising and upsell opportunities on your key pages.

We also recommend running an optimisation review and a natural and paid search gap analysis as soon as possible. This will ensure that any well performing paid search terms are included on your site. Be sure to sense check the terms you are promoting to ensure these are still potentially good traffic drivers.

Start planning your specific Christmas landing pages now to ensure that you have strong landing pages for any campaigns you are running as well any Black Friday/ Cyber Monday promotions. While on the topic of Black Friday – make sure you have a watertight plan, as many retailers were caught out by its popularity last year and it’s predicated to be even bigger in 2015. Start planning everything from your product strategy and promotions to fulfilment and delivery.

Social media and content

Surface View_FB ad

When preparing any paid social campaigns, think about the platforms you are running campaigns on and what your audience looks like on each platform e.g. is your Facebook following mainly women while your Twitter followers are men? Use this insight to create campaigns that are appropriate for each channel. Look at your campaigns from last Christmas and see what you can learn from them – what worked and what didn’t?

Imagery and video content is REALLY important – it’s what grabs the reader’s attention, whether that’s a blog post or a Facebook update. Therefore, any creatives shouldn’t be an afterthought when creating Christmas content. Make sure you have the resource to create awesome images that reflect your brand and will engage your audience.

Also, ensure your social team are working very closely customer service department if they sit in separate teams. Typically, Christmas will be a busy time for them, but it’s likely there will be an increase in enquires and complaints coming through from the social too. Agree who is responsible for dealing with queries and and customer enquiries or problems are dealt with in a quick and efficient manner.

Paid search

Make sure you have visibility of every promotion you will be running over the Christmas period and how they will be promoted, so you can plan your campaigns around them. Look back at which promotions have worked best in the past, such as flash sales, free delivery or discounts, and focus on these in your Christmas promotions.

Plan your paid search budgets to anticipate shifts in search volume for big shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Take a look at your data from last year to see which days were the most popular and plan accordingly.

Upload all new advert creatives well in advance of their launch to ensure they are reviewed and approved before your campaign starts – this includes both text and image ads. Don’t let Google hold up getting your campaigns started!

Lastly, make sure your product feeds are fully optimised for Google Shopping which is a key channel for Christmas shopping when consumers are looking for specific products. By not having visibility in Google shopping, you’ll be missing out on a huge chunk of traffic.

As you can see there is certainly lots to be thinking about and this blog post has only just scratched the service. The key to having a successful Christmas is to start now, plan well ahead, and be organised! If you’d like to talk to us about your Christmas strategy, then do get in touch, there’s only 152 days to go…

Facebook tests ecommerce by building shops into Pages

Facebook has taken another big leap into ecommerce – a market that is predicted to be worth $350 billion this year. The platform has begun testing shops within Pages, allowing businesses to sell to customers directly. Complete with “buy” buttons, these mini-ecommerce sites allow the entire shopping experience to take place on the social media platform – from product discovery to making a purchase.

Currently, most of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising, and this is driven by the data that users provide. By offering people a seamless online experience – including the ability to buy their favourite products without having to the leave the platform – Facebook further cements itself into people’s online lives.

What is happening to commerce elsewhere on the web?

Facebook isn’t the only online social media platform to explore ecommerce functionality. Both Twitter and Pinterest have introduced shopping experiences of their own, such as Buyable Pins. Instagram (the photo sharing app owned by Facebook) has also enabled “Shop now” calls to action on adverts. Moving away from social into the world of search, even Google wants a piece of the action, recently unveiling its own Buy Button.

One of the main driving forces behind changes in the online retail landscape is mobile. Having a mobile-friendly website was made even more vital when earlier this year, Google announced they would be boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. You can read more about the update on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

However, apps are also a significant part of the online experience on mobile devices. According to research institute Forrester, we spend 80% of our time on mobile apps within the top five apps. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for online retailers to get the attention of customers. Therefore, it makes sense for Facebook to exploit this need by giving businesses space on the platform to sell directly to users.

Important considerations for retailers

This latest project by Facebook is still in its infancy, with less than a hundred test shops said to exist (Facebook won’t release the names of the businesses currently trialling the feature). However, based on what Facebook has done in the past, there are a few things retailers should consider.

The first is how much selling directly to users might cost. Facebook currently doesn’t make money from sales that take place on the platform. However, as we’ve already pointed out, online commerce is worth a lot of money – even more than digital advertising. Facebook won’t want to miss out on a slice of that pie.

Facebook also has a track record for offering something for free then changing their minds later on. Businesses used to be able to communicate with their fans easily in their newsfeeds. When Facebook decided to reduce the organic reach of Pages, businesses had to resort to paid advertising in order to reach the same people.

It is perfectly possible that Facebook will monetise shopfronts on Pages in the future. However, if the trends in mobile usage and social commerce continue, retailers might not have a choice if they want to get their products in front of customers.

Main image via Maria Elena on Flickr.

Five digital marketing must-haves for retailers

As consumer expectations continue to rise, there are a wealth of digital marketing tactics that were once a “nice to have” which have fast become “must-haves” in order to win and retain customers.

In this blog post, we have picked out the top five digital marketing must haves that all retailers selling online should have as part of their digital marketing mix.

 

1. Customer Personas

How can you market effectively to your customers if you don’t have a clear picture of who they actually are? There is a wealth of information that you should know about your customers that I have covered in many previous posts. No matter how much information or data you have about the people who buy from you, your marketing team must use that knowledge to formulate a set of customer personas.

A customer persona is a succinct profile of each type of customer that purchases from you. It should contain demographic information (e.g. age, gender, family, salary, location, education) as well as emotional intelligence such as their personal values, aspirations, shopping behaviours, buying drivers, media consumption, hobbies and lifestyle.

Mapping this information around a visual representation of the customer with a name will allow you to really bring your customers to life. This means you can start to engage with them on an increasingly emotional level, which in turn allows you to create far more engaging and focused marketing tactics. In fact, user personas have been found to make websites 2-5 more effective and easier to use by targeted users.

Customer personas in marketing have been around forever, but we are constantly surprised to find digital marketing teams who don’t have access to this type of insight on their customers, therefore missing a huge opportunity to focus their marketing more effectively. Having this insight is absolutely crucial as engaging content is becoming increasingly important as part of the digital marketing mix.

Customer Personas

2. Segmented email campaigns

Up until recently, a segmented or automated email program was deemed a “nice to have” for many retailers with the complex email strategies left to the larger retailers. Today, with the high level of personalisation expected by consumers, those retailers who are not carrying out any segmentation or personalisation of their emails will be losing a large amount of retained revenue and market share. According to HubSpot, personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.

Make sure you have some form of welcome program for those who are signing up to receive email communication from you. Gather as much information as you can when they register to allow you to tailor your communications to them – even if it is only sending different emails to men and women.

Once the consumer has made a purchase, use the information you have about their purchases to personalise future communication with them. You could send them curated products they might like, inspirational content related to the category they have bought from, or sneak previews of new products within that category. The increase in conversion rates from a tailored email communications are huge, so make sure you are looking at how you can start segmentation as soon as possible.

Here is a great example of targeted email that I received recently from Missguided which led straight to a purchase.

Missguided-email

3. A well-structured content plan

It is no longer enough to have different teams or individual people within your business producing content for your customers independently. A brand that delivers engaging content across all digital touchpoints can create a seamless experience for their customers that will aid both acquisition and retention. This cannot be achieved if there is not one central content plan for all teams adhere to.

A well-structured and successful content plan will contain the following:

  • Identified customer personas to engage with
  • A set of natural search terms to be woven into content
  • A central theme of content relevant to the customer and the brand
  • Channel by channel content creation around the central theme
  • Channel by channel content seeding and amplification
  • 3rd party content engagement elements (influencers, bloggers)
  • Week by week delivery and resource planning
  • A full set of financial and activity focussed KPIs

And most importantly – delegate a member of staff to own the plan and ensure everyone delivers their elements on time!

4. Google Shopping

If you sell products online and you do not have a Google Shopping feed or Product Listing Ads, then shame on you! Accordingly to research encompassing large-volume retailers, last year product listing ads drove 56% of non-brand clicks and 30% of overall Google search ad clicks.

Google Shopping results feature at the top of search results and are a key way to drive customers who are searching for particular products straight through to your product pages. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and images are processed 60,000 times faster than text, therefore if consumers process ads before anything else on the search results page, then you could be missing out on a high proportion of clicks if you do not have your products there.

Google Shopping

5. Rich Pins

Rich Pins are a very simple digital marketing tactic you can utilise in order to make the most of the fast growing Pinterest platform. Although product information on Pins has been around for a while now, the amount that retailers can do on this platform to generate commercial results has been growing rapidly in recent months.

By placing a small amount of code on your website means that any product that is pinned can be shown alongside relevant information such as stock availability and price. Pinners may also get notifications when prices drop by more than 10%.

Rich PinsThe increase of product information can lead to a much higher proportion of Pinterest users clicking through and purchasing. A recent study co-sponsored by the platform found that pins actually influence purchasing decisions. Over half the active Pinterest users surveyed said that the site helped them find items to buy. In addition, 32% said they purchased something in-store after viewing content on Pinterest.

Your competitors are probably doing it already! What are you waiting for?

The tactics above are by no means the only “must haves” within digital marketing, but are some of the most common tactics that we come across which are not being implemented by retailers.

Make time today to start just one!