Twitter displayed in desktop searches and Facebook referral traffic increases

 

This week there have been a few developments in social media that we thought were particularly interesting. Read on to find out about Twitter’s new partnership with Google and how recently published data shows that Facebook has now overtaken Google for referral traffic.

 

Twitter results displayed in Google desktop searches

Following an initial test on mobile and in the U.S, Twitter has officially begun to roll tweets into Google desktop search results for all English language searches.

The agreement between Twitter and Google was designed to put “real-time info” into Google searches, as well as providing Twitter with a larger audience for their content to promote the service in a relevant and engaging way. This partnership is great news for Twitter who has recently declared stagnating user growth and subsequent investor fears.

Now when you search on Google, a feed of the latest tweets relating to the search term will appear in a carousel in the main column of organic search results. Typing in a hashtag into Google also generates a list of trending tweets on that topic.

The tweets will only show when Google deems them to be relevant to the search results and users do not need to have Twitter account to click on the tweets. So far, we’ve started to see tweets appear in search results for both us and also some of our clients.

tom dixon

 

This change increases the chance of your content being discovered and it’s also another area your brand can dominate in the search results. For example, a fashion retailer might have a nice informative blog post about the latest seasonal trends and how to get the look with their collection. but on the flip slide, negative tweets about your brands might appear, so it highlights the importance of providing exceptional customer service at every touch point.

Facebook pulls ahead of Google in referral traffic

In more search and social news, recent data from traffic analytics firm Parese.ly has shown that Facebook has overtaken Google in driving traffic to news sites.

In its quarterly Authority Report, Parse.ly looked at referral traffic to the top 100 news sites (as ranked by comScore and Alexa) from May – July. They found that in this period, 43% of the referral traffic came from social and 38% from search.

Google has traditionally made up a majority of referral traffic. However, the search giant peaked in October 2013, when we saw Facebook traffic start to steadily increase. Google has always remained dominant until the last quarter, when Facebook’s referral traffic share made up 38.3% compared to Google’s 35.8%.

Social media is very agile and instantaneous – a breaking news story is likely to surface on social media first so people are checking these channels first for news, rather than traditional websites as it takes time for content to be uploaded.

 

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.

Insight Edit – Does social media influence purchasing decisions?

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of more than 800 premium 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.

As the importance of social media within the digital marketing mix continues to increase, retailers are focusing on how to measure the commercial impact of those channels.

In light of this, we wanted to find out if social media had influenced purchasing designs for premium retail consumers within the last six months.

To do this, we asked our Premium Panel if they followed any of their favourite brands on their social channels.

Social-media

We then asked those who replied ‘yes’ (57%), if they had purchased a product from a brand as a direct result of seeing it on a social media. As a result, 55% of our panel said that they had been directly influenced on those channels to purchase a product.

social-media-influence

The fact that nearly 30% of our respondents were able to recall a time where social media played a role in their purchasing decisions underlines the importance of brands getting the communication on their social channels right!

When you’re planning your social engagement strategy, make sure you really understand which of your customers are engaging with you online and communicate with them accordingly. Different customers will follow you on different channels. One size does not fit all, so ensure you do not put the same message and communication out across all your social channels.

To find out more, you can download our series of ‘Engagement Reports’ to find out which brands we believe are doing the best job of engaging their customers across their social channels.

Why it’s time to take Pinterest seriously as a way to increase revenue

The direct impact of social media marketing on conversions can be difficult to measure. For brand awareness and community growth, Facebook, Twitter and the plethora of other social platforms out there are fantastic. However, because you are engaging with your audience at a much earlier stage in the buying journey, it can take time for someone to become a customer.

One reason why social media referral traffic doesn’t convert straight away is because users aren’t in the frame of mind to make a purchase. They want to talk with their friends, not be sold to. This is reflected in the types of content that people engage with – likes, shares and retweets are usually reserved for interesting or informative content, not self-promotional statements about products.

The social media platform that bucks this trend is Pinterest. We recently compared four online footwear retailers to see how their content performed on social media. As expected, blog posts (style guides, information about the latest trends etc.) were shared the most on Facebook and Twitter. However, product pages were most popular on Pinterest. This would suggest that users of this platform are further down the sales funnel and are thinking about making a purchase.

This anecdotal evidence is backed up by data from Pinterest itself. 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.

There are a number of ways brands can optimise their performance on Pinterest to help increase conversions. However, one that we frequently find is overlooked is the implementation of Rich Pins. These provide users with more information than regular pins. In the context on an ecommerce website, Product Pins (a type of Rich Pin) includes real-time pricing and availability. A survey by Sprout Social also found that Pins with prices get 36% more likes than those without.

Rich Pin

How to implement Rich Pins

Rich Pins work by pulling in additional information from your website along with the image. What that information is determined by meta tags. These are snippets of code that are added to your website and tell Pinterest things like:

  • Product name
  • Product type
  • Quantity
  • Amount

If you don’t have access to the back-end of your website or you aren’t comfortable with code, we recommend either speaking to your website developer or to us about implementing Rich Pins. Although not complicated to set up, they do require some understanding of how your website works in order add them into the right places.

If your social media marketing objective is to increase conversions, you’re playing the long game. However, by making sure your website is fully optimised for Pinterest, you’ll reach users who are ready to make a purchase.

Image source: Pinterest

Header image via Jason Howie on Flickr

How to amplify your content & updates from Twitter, Google and Facebook

Here’s our round-up of need-to-know social media & content news from the last few months and what it means for your digital marketing.

Savvy content marketers adopt a multi-channel approach to amplification

Content marketing has and always will be about creating useful, relevant content and targeting it at a carefully researched demographic. So far this year, I’ve noticed brands jumping on board with social media with gusto… unfortunately, there’s a heck of a lot of them jumping on board with zero strategy in place. With so much noise from brands and individuals, savvy content marketers need to be more strategic than ever if they’re going to get their content noticed.

Having a dual approach is crucial, blending highly useful, shareable onsite content to attract inbound links and mentions, while driving more relevant website traffic, with an outbound approach to get the attention of major publications and influencers. One often overlooked tactic to do this and a highly cost effective one, is the use of social PPC advertising to alert industry influencers and journalists about your content.

Whatever your brand, next time you have a piece of content you want to shout about, stop scraping the barrel for journalist contacts and put the news right in front of them. A great way to do this is to create Twitter lists of highly influential people and then target a Twitter ads campaign to appear directly in their newsfeeds. You’ll then have a measurable metric for the success of your content (clicks, retweets etc.) and furthermore, increase your chances of it being picked up and published.

Tied in content marketing, using a blend of promotional devices – and in this case focusing on the power of social PPC – instead of relying solely on more traditional journalist approaches (email, phone) to get your content featured, is my top tip for your next big campaign.

Google and Twitter partner up again

Google and Twitter reached an agreement for Google to start indexing tweets again after granting access to its Firehose. Firehose pings out over 9,000 tweets a second, meaning Google will always have access to the most up to date Twitter conversations to make Google searches even more relevant and the information thrown back to searchers, hyper-relevant and real-time.

If you were in any doubt as to the efficacy of Twitter as a marketing tool, this partnership – and with it the ability to get your tweets in front of both Twitter users and non-users – should convince you to step up your efforts on the platform and find your audience both in search and social.

Storytelling and tapping into emotion – the sure fire way to generate campaign engagement

Whether it’s marketers shaping the story, or the customer directly, storytelling in campaigns continue to be a strong tool for capturing your target audience’s attention.

Last month, we ran a campaign for our client, RocketSki, who – as the name suggests – provide fabulous ski holidays for corporates, groups and families.

The campaign – #TalesFromTheSlopes – asked RocketSki’s Facebook followers and lovers of skiing across Facebook (through Facebook advertising) to share their most breath-taking, funny or scary moments from the slopes and a picture of them in their best ski pose.

In collaboration with influential ski and snowboarding bloggers, the storytelling element of creative brought the campaign to life, as people flocked to the contest page to tell their #TalesFromTheSlopes. The winner, Claire Lomas, had an incredible story to tell. In 2007, Claire had a freak accident while competing at Osberton Horse Trials. This didn’t stop her though, as she turned her attention to mono skiing – essentially flying down the slopes in a specially crafted seat on skis. Her #TalesFromTheSlopes story attracted nearly 400 votes, making her the clear winner and a testament to the power of such an emotional journey – a story that captured the attention of all involved in the contest.

The campaign achieved great results for the client, including reengaging previous website visitors and converting new users into paying customers. Storytelling can be the catalyst not only for brand awareness and social media engagement, but as a genuine tool for driving sales and tangible return on investment.

Facebook continues to repress brand published organic content – less eyes on brand content

At time of writing – the last update from Facebook being on April 21st 2015 – titled ‘Balancing Content from Friends and Pages’ appears to lend itself to the following: “Dear brands, ‘If you were in any doubt, it’s time to use Facebook PPC to promote your brand message”.

Facebook is of course laser-focused on optimising content so that users’ eyeballs land on content that is relevant and interesting to them, so while organic posts are likely to see a further dip, it is still important for brands and the media to publish a rich variety of content. Whether it be videos, quizzes, thought provoking or humourous imagery, through to creative contests that reward followers for their support, brand pages will still play an important role in getting a return from social media efforts. Just don’t ignore the not so inconspicuous ‘paid social elephant in the room’… it’s time to up your social paid advertising budget if you really want to get your content seen.

Social engagement within the premium multi-brand fashion sector

As part of our ongoing crusade to create the perfect customer experience, we’ve recently been examining how well premium retailers understand their customers and are therefore able to produce content that engages them.

Last year we looked at premium furniture retailers and this year we’ve been focusing on multi-brand fashion retailers.

For multi-brand fashion retailers, building a unique identity that customers want to engage with can be challenge compared to retailers that stock own-brand products. Own brand retailers are much better placed to be able to carve out an identity for themselves through the uniqueness of their product and being able to focus their brand and style to a narrower target audience. In light of this, multi-brand fashion retailers need solid and effective content strategies tailored to specific customer segments in order to stand out in a competitive market and engage their customers to encourage purchases and loyalty.

In our report, we’ll reveal how 15 leading fashion retailers have performed in our analysis. We’ve also looked in depth at the three top scoring brands and explored the reasons why these brands have scored higher whilst offering some tips and recommendations for these brands to create even more engagement that other brands can learn from.

Get your copy of the report here.

Facebook and Pinterest updates, social listening and building ‘good’ links

Here’s our round-up of need-to-know social media & content news from the last few months and what it means for your digital marketing.

Facebook cracks down on promotional posts and rolls out CTA buttons

If your business has a Facebook Page, you can’t have failed to notice that your content is reaching fewer and fewer people. Throughout the past year, Facebook has been rolling out updates to its News Feed which have gradually suppressed content published by Pages in order to improve user experience. At the end of last year, Facebook announced further changes which specifically target “promotional content” from Pages such as offers, competitions and product announcements – meaning we’re pretty much at the stage now that organic reach on Facebook is, at best, incredibly difficult to achieve and, at worst, non-existent. Therefore, it’s now essential that your Facebook strategy comprises two different strands: ‘paid promotional’ and ‘organic engagement’. In other words, if you want your content to be seen, you need to be combining advertising with publishing quality content that resonates with your audience. By separating activity into these two different strands, you’re getting your promotional content in front of your target audience, as well as building relationships with existing customers – which is essential for delivering a stand-out customer experience.

Facebook

Image via Maria Elena on Flickr.

Despite reducing Page reach, Facebook maintains that Pages are an essential part of any brand’s social strategy. Of course they do, advertising is how they make their money. No matter how cynical you are about Facebook’s methods though, the fact remains that it’s still the biggest social network and – for almost every retailer – this is probably the place that most of your customers are hanging out in their spare time. In order to help brands make Pages more tailored to achieving their marketing objectives, Facebook is rolling out Call To Action Buttons including ‘Book Now’, ‘Shop Now’ and ‘Sign Up’ – so keep an eye out for these becoming available for your Page.

Pinterest introduces ‘Smart Feed’

Towards the last quarter of 2014, Pinterest stopped showing users pins from everyone they follow in their feed in chronological order by introducing an algorithm called the Smart Feed. This means that when you log on to Pinterest now, you will see pins from three different sources: people you follow, related pins and pins that Pinterest thinks you’ll like based on your interests. The highest quality pins (determined by a number of different factors) are pushed to the top of the feed, making them more likely to be seen. The Smart Feed also ensures that you aren’t being shown the same pins over and over again each time you visit the site.

What does this mean for your brand’s Pinterest account? It means that you need to optimise your pins for the Pinterest Smart Feed in order to maximise the chance of them being seen. Some of the ways that you can increase the chance of your content appearing in users’ feeds are:

• Ensure your images are eye-catching, high quality and portrait-oriented
• Implement rich pins to automatically brand your content and encourage conversions by telling your audience which products are in stock and how much they are
• Spend time crafting your pin descriptions, ensuring they are well-written and contain key words and phrases which relate to your content
• Only re-pin content from other users that’s as high quality as your brand’s content
• Pin things that are useful and inspiring rather than being overly promotional
• Add the ‘Pin It’ button to your site to make it easier for visitors to share your products and content – then your site visitors do the work for you

Social listening is essential

Social media users are becoming so bombarded with advert-style messaging that they’re getting pretty good at shutting out the noise – one of the reasons for Facebook’s decision to suppress promotional posts. With every piece of content you post in these social spaces, you’re competing for peoples’ attention not just with other brands, but with their friends, family and favourite celebrities too. If you’re just shouting about buying your products or services, then you’re never going to cut through all of the more interesting things that your audience could be looking at.

What’s the solution? Listen to your audience, get to know them, understand what they talk about, use the same language as they do and show that you care about the same things as them. There’ll be a reason why they followed you in the first place – because something about your brand resonated with them. Build on this by creating content that builds relationships. It’s only by nurturing your audience and showing an interest in them that you create a brilliant customer experience.

There are numerous tools available that you can use to monitor not just what people are saying about your brand name, but around terms relating to your product too – for example, if you sell coats you could monitor conversations around the weather being cold and join the conversation where appropriate. As you go along and discover these communities online, make a note of where most of the relevant conversations are going on – these are the primary channels you should focus on. Also pay close attention to the questions that your audience are asking – can you produce content that answers these questions for them and direct them to it via social? Or do your products solve their problems in themselves?

Building ‘good’ links to your site (and why bloggers are still important)

It’s been a controversial subject ever since Google released its first Penguin update, penalising sites that had focused their SEO strategy on building up hundreds or even thousands of low-quality, paid-for links. Subsequent updates and clarifications to Penguin saw Google telling webmasters that ANY followed link which had been paid for in any way – either by exchange of cash or goods – was at risk of attracting the wrath of Penguin.

Of course, to police every single link would be impossible – but the risk has been sufficient enough to make people wary of any practises that could be considered even remotely suspect. With this in mind, here are some suggested ways to gain links in a safe and sustainable way:

• Conduct customer insight to gain an in-depth understanding of your brand’s audience
• Create on-site content which addresses real, query-based searches which are relevant to your customers and potential customers
• Ensure that every single piece of content you publish on your site has purpose and adds value
• Make sure your content is better than and different to what your competitors are doing – that’s the only way to get attention

Once you’ve got the content on your site, tactics to get it linked to are:

• Identify relevant, niche publications relating to your industry and let them know about your brand and content – it’s much easier to get links from these smaller sites but links will be relevant (which Google rewards) and they’ll drive smaller volumes of highly qualified traffic which is likely to convert
• Take a look at the link profiles of your competitors, identify where their best links are coming from and target the same publications OR offer your own resources as an alternative / updated source where information is outdated
• Publish blog posts that feature quotes from or interviews with key influencers in your industry and let them know that they’ve been featured – they’ll likely be more than happy to share your content via their social networks and may even link to it from their site
• Sign up to sites such as HARO or Response Source and answer relevant queries from journalists which could result in coverage for your organisation – even if you don’t get a link, brand citations from authoritative sites will still have value
• Interactive content such as quizzes and branded tools are great ways to attract links because people have to link to your site when they talk about them

While for SEO purposes you have to earn links, this doesn’t mean that sending products to bloggers for review or engaging in commercial collaborations shouldn’t be part of your strategy anymore. Blogs which are read widely by your target audience are hugely important for raising brand awareness and driving quality traffic which converts. Even though these links won’t hold natural search value, don’t ignore them. Most importantly, a relationship that starts with a paid promotion can be nurtured to create an influential brand advocate – it might even result in editorial coverage and an earned link at a later date.

Header image via Jason Howie on Flickr.

What we learnt in 2014 and what we look forward to in 2015

With 2015 well and truly upon us, I asked the Leapfrogg team to reflect upon what we have learnt over the last 12 months in the world digital marketing and premium retail and how we expect this year’s developments to evolve.

Here’s what they came up with:

 

 

Rosie FreshwaterRosie Freshwater – Managing Director

2015 will be the year of “Customer Experience”

Last year, customer experience still felt very much like a theory that everyone preached and understood that they needed to start doing. However, retailers were challenged to do anything about it as they felt there was so much to be done just to get to the point of best practice. Only then did they feel they were ready to start tweaking the experience they give to certain customers.

I believe that 2015 will be the year that customer experience really does get put at the heart of digital marketing teams and retailers work out how to do that and build a focus on customer insight and data into every job role within their marketing teams and wider across the business. We will start to see roles such as ‘head of customer experience’ appear and more and job descriptions will include the need to understand customer data.

 

Ben PotterBen Potter – Commercial Director

Customer insight is key

If pretty much any year from 2008 onwards was labelled ‘the year of mobile’, 2014 was very much about ‘customer experience’ with marketers at the turn of the year proclaiming it to be the most exciting opportunity.

However, customer experience is nothing new, there is just far greater attention being paid to it as a discipline in its own right because, in a consumer-led, multi-device world, a seamless and consistent experience is so difficult to deliver.

The ability to decide where to invest for maximum return, minimal waste and happy customers will separate the good from the great this year. This is where customer insight is key. It shouldn’t only be shaping the big decisions but the ‘smaller’ ones too. Even at the most granular of levels, every decision should begin and end with the customer.

I hope to see marketers take a step back and see the bigger picture in 2015. If 2014 was the year customer experience became as much a part of the vocabulary as SEO or social media, 2015 is the year when retailers need to really live and breathe it. It’s the year when every decision is made on the basis of what customers actually want rather than what the retailer thinks they want.

 

Suzanne TaylorSuzanne Taylor – Website optimisation manager

Focus on your wider strategy

In 2014 it felt like brands and retailers took further steps to root digital execution in their in-house teams. It’s hugely important that internal departments are all embracing and ingraining digital in their day-to-day marketing efforts as this will provide a long-term foundation for digital success.

This year, online brands and retailers really do need to focus on building their brands by engaging with their customers and providing unique experiences. Although different channels all have their part to play, it’s important that brands focus on the wider strategy to ensure everyone is aligned and working towards overall business objectives. Better segmentation and personalisation are likely to get more advanced in 2015.

 

Alice ReevesAlice Reeves – Social Media and Content Manager

Video will dominate further

This year, video is set to become even more important and brands not creating their own video content are going to lose out to competitors that are.

Video doesn’t just give you the chance to create compelling, easy-to-consume content about your products and services, it also performs exceptionally well on social media. According to figures released in September 2014, around a billion videos are viewed on Facebook every day. Consumers’ thirst for quality video content is only set to increase in 2015 and the social networks know it, that’s why they’re going to be investing in and pushing their own video hosting capabilities. Get on the bandwagon early.”

Social media strategies need to be engagement-focused AND include paid media

The biggest disruptions to the social media sphere in 2014 were the various updates to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm which suppressed organic reach for brand Pages. As a result, our clients across the board saw their organic reach (along with resulting website traffic and conversions) taking a dip. With the roll out of further updates beginning this month which will suppress “promotional content” from Pages, brands are going to need to divide their Facebook strategy into two distinct areas in order to see success on the platform:

• Paid promotional
• Organic engagement

It’s not just Facebook that’s making changes like this in the name of improving the user experience. Pinterest recently introduced its ‘Smart Feed’ which means that pins are no longer shown in chronological order – they’re assessed on the basis of quality and relevance to the user. There’s also been speculation around whether Twitter is going to abandon its chronological timeline and serve users tweets based on relevance instead. If you want to see success on any social media platform in 2015, your strategy is going to need to be wholly engagement-focused AND include an element of paid media.

Content strategies need to be altruistic, not self-indulgent.

My final prediction for 2015 is that brands that don’t focus on delivering what their customers want via their social media and content are going to fall behind. In-depth customer insight (we’re not talking ACORN profiles here) should be the starting point for any content strategy and maintaining genuine engagement with consumers is going to be how brands see success. Content marketing is going to be entirely about answering problems and adding value.

 

Ben AdamBen Adam – Senior website optimisation consultant

Backlink relevancy will still be a big win in terms of search quality

In 2014, Google found a way to ‘encourage’ webmasters to help them start clearing the web through Penguin and its regular updates – something they have been attempting to battle unsuccessfully for a number of years. Over the last year, in fear of action from Google, website owners have been trawling through historic ‘spammy’ links, requesting removal of them and supplying lists of websites in the form of disavow files, shopping these offending sites directly to Google.

Last year saw many predictions and outcries of links being dead. However they still remain a core factor in the way Google ranks search results and they have got much better at identifying manipulated links thanks to the webs clean up.

Google are yet to find a better approach. They even tested removing links internally but the resulting quality was much worse. Matt Cutts stated “It turns out backlinks, even though there’s some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really, really big win in terms of quality for search results”. I would expect it to stay that way for some time.

 

Ben RobsonBen Robson – Senior social media and content consultant

Create content that has a purpose, rather than content for content’s sake.

2014 showed us that Google continues to place more and more emphasis on high quality content, rewarding businesses and brands who cater for online searches with content that is relevant and useful.

In 2015, I’m looking forward to seeing the trend develop further – helping our own clients position themselves as trusted sources of highly relevant, highly shareable content that attracts engagement from the right visitor demographic. I am also hoping 2015 is the year more brands recognise that adding to the growing amount of ‘content noise’ on social media (adopting a quantity vs. quality approach) is never the way forward. May 2015 be the year of content that has a purpose, rather than content for content’s sake.

 

AnnAnna Taylora Taylor – Sales and Marketing Executive

Customer-centric fulfilment

In 2015 the importance of free, speedy and flexible delivery and return options will continue to grow as ecommerce customers will start to expect this to be the norm. Gone will be the days of waiting weeks for deliveries and even months for your refunds. To compete, online retailers will need to provide an optimised online shopping experience and offer great deals on delivery and a fast turnaround time on all orders.

I think 2015 will also see personal and effective customer service becoming crucial in such a competitive retail landscape. We’ve seen many examples of retailers such as ASOS who may be pushing the boundaries in terms of innovation and expansion but they’ve come under recent criticism for their automated customer service processes. The fact that that 80% of UK consumers are less likely to buy again after one bad experience will mean that the retailers who can’t provide this will certainly fall behind

I think we will be seeing plenty to advances to online retail in 2015 but hopefully every single one will boil down to improving the customer experience.

So, what do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on our predictions so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Premium retail Christmas campaigns

Christmas is, without a doubt, one of the most important times of the year for retailers and a successful Christmas can really make the difference between success and failure for a retailer.

With so much hinging on the Christmas period, it’s little surprise to see just how much effort and money retailers will put into their festive marketing campaigns. It’s no longer enough to promote the latest product or discount; campaigns must be clever, creative and most importantly emotive to win over shoppers in time for the festive rush.

This year, the stakes have been raised even higher with more lavish and creative campaigns appearing across all platforms. In light of this, we’ve brought together some of the most innovative campaigns that we have spotted this year to identify which retailers are most likely to have tapped into their customers’ hearts (and purses!)

Harvey Nichols – Could I be any clearer?


Last year we wrote about Harvey Nichols’ rather shallow Christmas campaign and this year they’ve continued the theme by launching a range of ‘Could I Be Any Clearer’ Christmas cards.

When viewing products on the Harvey Nichols website you can select ‘create Christmas card’ which allows you to choose a card design which can be printed, emailed or shared through social media to send to your loved ones with a not-so-subtle hint of what’s really on your mind this Christmas.

Mulberry #WinChristmas

Mulberry is another brand who is continuing the theme of Christmas being all about the presents and has created an online campaign entitled #WinChristmas. The advert features an upper class household with family members all competing to outdo each other in their gifts for the spoilt daughter. Each present gets more and more over the top (including a Unicorn!) until granny trumps them all with a Mulberry handbag which gets the biggest reaction from the daughter.

The advert serves as a light-hearted reminder from the luxury brand that you can’t go wrong with giving a Mulberry bag for Christmas. The advert is also complemented by press, digital, in-store window displays, visual merchandising, social competitions and a digital Christmas gift finder – although I am not convinced anyone who has been really naughty deserves something from Mulberry!

Ted Baker’s #EdSelfie


This year, fashion retailer, Ted Baker has done something a bit different and launched a Christmas-themed game on Instagram to engage shoppers over the Christmas period.

The #TedsElfie campaign asks fans to help find Santa’s missing elves and gives clues on their social media pages with hints about where to look. Over on the @TedsElfie Instagram page, you can view various pictures and when you tap them clues are revealed as to the elves whereabouts. When you find an Elf, users can comment on the photos and follow the instructions for a chance to win prizes. I think it’s a really innovative campaign and a great use of Instagram and is certainly capturing the attention of fans of the brand.

Selfridges ‘Elfridge and the Enchanted Forest’

Selfridges is another retailer who has also launched a Christmas-themed game to build awareness of their Elfridges service and loyalty amongst shoppers.

The retro inspired game called ‘Elfridge and the Enchanted Forest’ has five levels to represent each of its five stores and transactional website. Players take on the role of an Elfrdige to save Christmas after a golden goose steals the presents from Selfridges and have to navigate through a world reminiscent of Nintendo’s Super Mario. The game serves as a fun marketing tool to inform users about the locations of their different stores and the offers available.

Magic & Sparkle #Followthefairies

This year’s offering from Marks & Spencer has a strong emphasis on social media and the retailer has ditched all the celebrity signings it focused on so heavily last year.

M&S has launched an advert which features two fairies, Magic & Sparkle, who aim to lift festive spirits with ‘random acts of kindness.’ The retailer has utilised their Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr accounts to spread the word and generate chatter with the hashtag #followthefairies.

To emphasise their theme of ‘acts of kindness’ M&S listened to people’s wishes on social media and used geotagging to locate them and make them come true. They ran unbranded events such as creating real snow outside a school in Cornwall, giving gifts to night shift workers, delivering chocolates to a hospital ward to and creating fairies made out of lights above Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge – all of which weren’t revealed to be the work of M&S until the advert was released. The fairies Twitter account has already amassed a massive 42,000 followers and the challenge for M&S will be to keep the attention of the followers they have amassed after the Christmas season.

Burberry – From London With Love

Burberry has launched a four minute film entitled From London with Love which features 12-year old Romeo Beckham – son of David and Victoria Beckham. As well as the advert, the campaign features an interactive store window in its London and Paris stores which enable visitors to interact with individual scenes in the advert through their mobiles. Consumers are also able to shop for items directly through Twitter.

Christopher Bailey, the brands CEO and Creative Director said the idea was about combining a “physical experience with something that is online” and working with Twitter meant the brand could “do that on different platforms in a physical location”.

John Lewis – Monty’s Magical Toy Machine

It wouldn’t be a Christmas campaign blog without including John Lewis. I thought this year’s advert was sweet, but it didn’t blow me away. However, what I thought was really innovative was some of the other ideas intended to extend the life of the campaign such as Monty’s Magical Toy Machine. At the flagship John Lewis store in Oxford Street, children can scan their favourite toy into the machine and through photogrammetry technology the toy then appears on screen as a moving as a life-like 3D image and dances for the child. I can only imagine the children’s responses to their toys coming to life!

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

Premium Retail Case Study: The Marc Jacobs ‘Tweet Shop’

What was the campaign?

In August this year, premium retail brand Marc Jacobs made headlines when it launched a pop-up shop with a difference in London’s Covent Garden. Instead of giving away free samples or selling products, transactions were conducted exclusively via hashtag.

Customers of the ‘Tweet Shop’ were invited to “buy” samples of the designer’s Daisy fragrances by tweeting with the hashtag #mjdaisychain, while those who tweeted a photo or video could “buy” a key ring or free manicure at the in-store nail bar.

The shop also featured a photo booth and Vine booth to encourage people to share images and video, with those tweeting the best photos being in with a chance of winning a Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag each day for the three days that the shop was open.

What were the results?

As well as attracting thousands of hashtag mentions over the course of the three days that the shop was open, even before its launch the campaign garnered genuine editorial coverage – not just paid for PR – across all the major fashion magazines including Glamour, Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle UK, putting Marc Jacobs right in front of its target market.

The campaign also attracted national newspaper coverage due to the fact that it was doing something totally different that hadn’t been done in the UK before.

Fundamentally, the Marc Jacobs campaign worked because it offered something new – it was the first example of the concept outside the US. What made the campaign so successful was that the brand got their audience insight spot-on and conducted the campaign perfectly – providing a totally seamless experience that they knew their customers would love.

The shop itself worked hard to create a “social media-friendly vibe” with a lounge area, free drinks and free Wi-Fi so that data limits and lack of signal wouldn’t ruin the concept. These elements brought customers in and got them to stay, take photos and enjoy the whole experience.

The campaign was entirely customer-led from start to finish, positioning the shop as a “gift to Marc’s many fans and followers”. Through social listening, the brand had seen that its customers were incredibly active on Twitter and were already tweeting images and videos of their Marc Jacobs products – so they started speaking their language and using their audience’s preferred method of engagement to get them create buzz around the brand.

In an interview with Marketing Week, Natalie Moon, UK marketing director at Coty which owns the license for Marc Jacob fragrances, said: “We’ve got a deeply engaged follower group who are spontaneous, creative and give a lot to us. This was a chance for us to give something back to them.”

This isn’t the first time that Marc Jacobs has got it right when it comes to social media either – it recruited the models for its AW14 campaign via Instagram.

What can you learn from this for YOUR brand?

While you may not have a Marc Jacobs-sized budget or the advantage of hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, you can still learn a lot from the bigger players’ marketing efforts. From this campaign, the key takeaways for your brand’s social media campaigns are:

  • Find out where your customers are hanging out online

Are they most active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or elsewhere? When you know this, you’ll know which platform to design your campaigns for to maximise success.

  • Talk your audience’s language

Use listening tools to find out what hashtags your audience are using, what they’re talking about and how they engage with other brands. This means you’ll be able to communicate with them in a way that captures their interest and builds genuine relationships.

  • Nurture your brand advocates

Social media is a place for people to share the things they’re passionate about; therefore your social media efforts should be based around delivering your audience things that they enjoy and making them feel appreciated.

  • Walk through your campaign from start to finish before launch

Whether you do this physically or virtually, it’s important to ensure that you ‘road test’ your campaign from a customer’s point of view before kicking off. Use your internal team as guinea pigs to ensure that you iron out any potential obstacles – you want to deliver your audience a seamless, enjoyable experience.

  • Put yourself in the customer’s shoes

Ask yourself, as a customer, “what’s in this for me?” If you want people to engage with your brand, they’ve got to have a reason – you’re competing for their attention and loyalty amidst a lot of noise, so ensure that they’re being rewarded with something that they’ll love.

Which campaigns from premium and luxury retailers have caught your attention this year? Share them with us on Twitter using the hashtag #PremiumPanel or join the conversation over on our Facebook group.