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.


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.


The Weekly Shop (24th – 28th Nov)

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Weekly Shop. This week we’re talking Black Friday and Cyber Monday, updates on Twitter and Facebook’s ‘buy’ button and what we mean by the term ‘insight.’ Plus, the chance to win Fortnum & Mason  hampers when you complete our first Premium Panel survey.

Researchers predict Cyber Monday spending will top £500m; eBay says its big day will fall the day before

Cyber Monday takes place this coming Monday and new research has predicted that British etailers will together take more than half a billion pounds for the first time during the course of the day. That’s 11.4% up on the same time last year.

Facebook and Twitter won’t be able to check ‘buy buttons’ off their holiday wishlists

This week Facebook and Twitter announced that the “buy” buttons they have been testing since the summer won’t be introduced in time for the Christmas rush. The social media giants stated that this is because they want to ensure that they create the “right tool” before making it available to everyone.

What do we mean when we want “Insight”?

This next article from Clickz looks at what the term “insight” really means when it comes to marketing and if we using it in the correct way.

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

At the end of every month we round-up the hottest products, trends and innovations from the world of premium and luxury retail according to our Premium Panel. This month our panel has been getting excited about Anya’s Hindmarch’s bespoke collection, Liberty of London’s mobile loyalty app and some very luxurious advent calendars! Head over to our blog to find out more.

Take our survey and WIN a Christmas hamper from Fortnum & Mason!

This week saw our first Premium Panel survey go live. If you’d like to get involved, just answer these questions about your Christmas shopping and you’ll automatically be entered into our prize draw to win one of three decadent Fortnum & Mason ‪Christmas hampers worth up to £150. We’ll even make sure they’re delivered in time for Christmas Day! Click here to take the survey.
See you next week!


The Weekly Shop (15th – 19th September)

Welcome to this Friday’s edition of the Weekly Shop. This week we feature lots of retail news and some updates from London Fashion Week which kicked off last Friday.

How Burberry and Topshop used social to rule at London Fashion Week

With London Fashion Week over for another year, this article from Econsultancy takes a look how both Burberry and Topshop showcased digital innovation at their shows this week using social media.

What is customer lifetime value (CLV) and why do you need to measure it?

Next an article which aims to make sense of the term ‘Customer Lifetime Value’ and explains why retailers need to measure it.

10 Online Shopping Personality Traits

This next article looks at how shopping behaviour data derived from a behavioural commerce analytic platform was analysed to determine the 10 most common shopping personality profiles. Which category do you fit into?

Site search: retailers still have a lot to learn

Here’s another article from Econsultancy which looks at how site search remains a problem for ecommerce sites, with lack of key functionality and flexibility proving to be a barrier to the user experience.

High street shoppers change the way they shop in the light of online: BRC

A recent study has shown that shoppers are changing their high street shopping behaviour in the light of ecommerce with shoppers now visiting shops less often but spending more when they do. It seems that customers are now hitting the high street with purpose, knowing what they want to buy ahead of time, supported by online research, and doing more shopping in a single trip.


The Weekly Shop (8th – 12th Sept)

It’s Friday, so that means there’s a new edition of The Weekly Shop! This week, we explore Twitter’s ‘Buy Now’ button, driving brand advocacy through sales teams and employees, Christmas spending and the single customer view.

Twitter tests ‘buy’ button to allow retailers to sell products direct from a tweet

The big news in digital marketing this week came from Twitter, who is officially testing a ‘buy now’ button to allow retailers to sell products directly from a tweet. Currently, the trial is being offered to a small percentage of retailers in the US including Burberry and The Home Depot.

Next Up For Twitter: Improved Search, Better Algorithm, Possible Group Chat

While we’re on the subject of Twitter, this article from Marketing Land looks at what could be next for the social network following insights from Twitter’s CFO Anthony Noto.

Incentivising your retailers to drive brand advocacy

This next article explores how a brands sales teams and employees are, more often than not, the greatest brand ambassadors for your company as they are closest to the products to share your brand message. Econsultancy have provided three approaches to encourage employees to advocate for your brand whether it’s via bricks-and-mortar store, online or through third parties.

UK online shoppers set to spend £13bn this Christmas: forecast

According to a new study this week by Sage Pay, online spending will top £13bn for the first time this Christmas. Sage Pay says the rise – equivalent to an 18% boost on last year’s spending of £11bn – will come as Britons already start to look online ahead of Christmas spending. If you’re looking to start planning for the festive season, then check out this blog post which features some tips and tactics from the Leapfrogg team.

What is the single customer view and why do you need it?

This last article from Econsultancy aims to simplify the term ‘single customer view’ and explain why retailers need it. It also provides some further reading on the subject.

Thank for reading!

Tis the season to start planning for Christmas

So it seems summer may very sadly be on its way out as we enter September. For retailers, this can only mean one thing – Christmas is well and truly on its way. Earlier in the month, Selfridges even opened their Christmas shop – making it the first retailer in the world to do so. You might not want to be purchasing your baubles just yet, but with Christmas being the busiest and most important time of the year for online retailers – it’s never too early for retailers to start planning for the festive season. Being prepared and identifying a strategy now can make or break a successful year for retailers – in other words the difference between a lump of coal or the latest gadget from Apple in your stocking!

With only 115 days until the big day, we’re already hard at work planning for Christmas with our clients. In light of this, I thought it was worth sharing a couple of tips and tactics from the Leapfrogg team to help get you started.

What do your customers want?

Rosie, Leapfrogg’s Managing Director, recommends running a survey and asking your customers what they think they will want to buy from you at Christmas. You can 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.

It may well be too late for this insight to influence your product range for Christmas, but what this will do is give you a good steer on where to spend your marketing budget. If you know that your older customers are likely to buy a certain product from you in store, then make sure you remind them via email to pop in store as Christmas approaches. If you know that your younger customers are likely to buy a particular product from you online, then ensure you promote that product to them via all online channels in the run up to Christmas. A quick survey via email with an incentive for completion is an easy way to do this.

You could even go one step further and ask your customers to help you develop a new product for Christmas. If it isn’t too late and your products are applicable, then use social media to showcase a few product ideas or ask your customers to submit ideas for voting that you will be able to put into limited edition production. A loyal fan base will be very engaged with the process and will be likely to buy the product and others when it is released.

Can you offer free delivery?

If you can, offer free delivery – your investment really will pay off and may make the difference in a customer choosing to order with you rather than one of your competitors. A customer experience design project we ran for one of our clients revealed that a major barrier to conversion was a relatively high delivery charge on a low average order value. By offering free delivery, they increased online revenue by 20% within eight weeks.

Be clear and simple

Ensure all your delivery messaging is clearly displayed on your website across all pages, as well as your last online order dates for pre-Christmas delivery to ensure there are no nasty surprises for your customers and their expectations can be met at all times.


House of Fraser Christmas

Image source: Econsultancy

In addition, ensure that your returns policy is also clearly displayed across your website– especially if you are offering extended returns over this period.


asos Christmas Delivery

Image source: ASOS

Have a look at what questions you were asked last year and ensure your FAQs are up to date with the answers to those questions. Doing this will make life easier for your customers, and remove the need for them to contact you for questions that can be easily answered.

Also spend some time making sure that your product information is as detailed as possible. It’s worth bulking these out now, so your product pages contain as much information about the products as you can, again, making life easier for your customers.

Concentrate on improving your basket and checkout pages now to ensure you have a well converting process in time for Christmas. Maybe run some user-testing to check it’s as user-friendly as possible, and if you don’t already, offer guest checkout and consider a one page checkout.


Macy's one page checkout

Image source: Econsultancy

Be mobile responsive

We all know the importance of having a mobile-optimised website by now. If you don’t have one yet, definitely make this a priority as soon as possible as mobile searches increase over the festive period as more shoppers use their phones whilst on the high street to research products. According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, last Christmas, mobile traffic grew to 58% of all online traffic, an increase of 42% over 2012 and we can only expect this figure to rise even more this Christmas.


John Lewis mobile website

If you do already have a mobile website, take some time to ensure it provides a seamless purchasing journey for your customers.

Content planning

Ben, our senior and social media content consultant suggests preparing a content schedule that includes relevant seasonal content such as tips, videos and blog posts. Rather than just pushing products, try and tap into your customers’ needs and help solve their stressful shopping problems. This type of content will help ramp up your audience in the run up Christmas and you can link in an association of how your products can fit into Christmas preparations. Ensure that this messaging is published in a steady flow throughout the Christmas period.

Generate Christmas discounts as a special reward for your social followers, which will make them feel special and like they are getting a bargain before the New Year’s sales. This can aid revenue flow and attract any buyers that usually wait until the sale period to purchase.

Offering competitions and promotions around the 12 days of Christmas are always a winner as they encourage people to keep coming back to your website and making purchases throughout the Christmas period. The Whistles annual advent calendar is a great example of this.

Think in advance about tying in in-store services with ways to boost social following and brand loyalty. For example, offering a free gift wrapping service to customers could be tied in with a data capture exercise to capture customer email addresses and dates of birth in reward for the free gift wrap. This data can then be used to target customers through email marketing and also through custom audiences advertising on Facebook.
Create any new pages well in advance of Christmas

Our senior natural search consultant, Ben and website optimisation manager, Suze, both recommend keeping your Christmas landing pages/categories the same year to year. This ensures Google keeps them in its index and all trust associated with those pages remains. You can always hide the URLs from the customer visible sitemap, but maintain them in the XML sitemap.
If you need to create new pages or categories, ensure you create them well in advance of Christmas to allow Google to index and begin to assign trust to the new pages. Again, link in from the XML sitemap, and if you don’t have your Christmas range confirmed yet – create a holding page for them. You could always include an email signup form on this page, so keen customers can find the page and register interest before you have the range finalised.

Paid search recommendations

Our paid search analysts, Joe and Andy, have a number of recommendations for planning paid search campaigns for the festive season:

  • Have a solid marketing plan in place, so you know exactly what promotions will be running and how they will be promoted e.g. which channel, paid search feature, and site/ad language and also the budgets available for each period building up to Christmas and after Christmas.
  • Look back at which promotions have worked best in the past and test again e.g. a flash sale, free P&P or exclusive discounts.
  • Plan paid search budgets to anticipate shifts in search volume such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Take a look at your historical data for this to see which days last year were popular and plan accordingly.
  • Upload all new ad creatives well in advance of their launch to ensure they are reviewed and approved before your campaign starts – this includes text and image ads.
  • Migrate any changes made in Google across to Bing Ads to ensure consistency and more visibility for your ads.
  • Make sure product feeds are fully optimised for Google Shopping. New feed requirements are coming into effect by the 30th September, so ensure you’re ready for this change now so you don’t run into any problems in build up to Christmas. Google Shopping will be a key channel for retailers this Christmas.

So there you have it – a few tips from the Leapfrogg team on how you can start preparing for the festive season. With only 115 days to go, the time is definitely ripe to start getting into the Christmas spirit and planning ahead. By doing so now, you’ll definitely be in a better position this festive season.


The Weekly Shop (11th -15th Aug)

Hello, and welcome to another edition of The Weekly Shop. This week, we feature ways to increase customer engagment in ecommerce, Pinterest’s new messaging feature, Amazon’s 3D printing marketplace and the importance of the customer journey. Let’s get stuck in…

Ecommerce turns 20 and my, how it’s grown

Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the very first online sale, which apparently was a copy of Sting’s album ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’ in case you were wondering! Our first article this week takes a look at how the world of ecommerce has changed since August 11th 1994.

10 ways to increase customer engagement in ecommerce

In our next article, Econsultancy have explored 10 innovative features that can help keep customers engaged on ecommerce websites which includes examples from the likes of M&S, Topshop and ASOS.

The customer journey & relevant experiences are the new business imperatives

Next is another great read from Econsultancy that explores how recent research by eBay and Deloitte have shown the sheer importance of understanding the customer journey and delivering relevant experiences. According to the article, ‘leading marketers must understand the value of these multichannel customer interactions and work towards ensuring seamless customer experiences.’

Amazon 3D-printing marketplace promises to ‘change the way people shop online’

Amazon have just unveiled their 3D printing store where customers can buy on demand 3D printed products ranging from jewellery to home décor. Currently, the store is only available in the US and stocks over 200 print on-demand products which customers can personalise. Amazon believes that the introduction of the 3D Printed Products store suggests the beginnings of a shift in online retail and that manufacturing can be more nimble to provide an immersive customer experience.

Pinterest Rolls Out Messaging So Pinners Can Have Conversations Around Shared Pins

Direct messaging has popped up on many apps within the last year including Instagram and Vine. Now Pinterest has followed suit, and launched a new messaging feature that allows users to send a pin and start a conversation all within the desktop site and app to allow for further engagement on the platfrom.

Google confirms HTTPS as a new ranking signal: What are the implications?

Google has recently announced that it is starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal within search results. The ‘S’ in HTTPS stands for secure, so this change essentially means that any websites using secure and encrypted connections across their domains will benefit from this ranking update. In this article, Econsultancy looks at the implications of this change.

Thanks for reading!

The Weekly Shop (28th Jul – 1st Aug)

In the Weekly Shop this week, we take a look at how British town centres have adapted as consumers move towards digital, some Facebook news, which includes a useful new ‘Save’ feature and how to breath life into old content.

Town centres adapt as consumers move towards digital and convenience: report

A new report has shown that British town centres are changing as they adapt to evolving customer demands. The report found that Britons are above all looking for convenience – and finding it both in high street, for quick ‘top-up’ shops, and online shopping, whereas once they found it in out-of-town retail destinations. The report suggests convenience is driving digital ways of buying and that click and collect has pushed people back to stores. More on the report over on Internet Retailing.

With Save, Facebook Lets You Bookmark Posts For Later

After announcing their ‘Buy Now’ button trial last week, Facebook have also just announced that they are testing a new ‘Save’ feature. This feature will let you bookmark things you discover on Facebook, so you can read them at a more convenient time. This will no doubt be very useful for both brands and users as posts frequently get lost in the constantly refreshing news feed.

399 Million People Use Facebook Only From Mobile

Keeping on the topic of Facebook, this week we also learnt that Facebook has now 399 million mobile-only monthy active uses. This means that almost 1 out of 3 Facebook users never use the web version of Facebook, clearly showing a trend of users moving away from Facebook’s web platform. Definitely something to keep in mind when you are planning your marketing efforts on Facebook.

How to breathe new life into old content

One of the biggest changes within content marketing is constantly coming up with ideas for great content. Whilst fresh content is important, you should equally be thinking about repurposing the fantastic content you’ve already created. This article from Econsultancy explores how you can breathe new life into old content, so it performs a useful function within your user journey.

Google Introduces Product Ratings on PLAs

Onto a new development in Paid Search. This week, Google announced that starting in late July, Product Listing Ads (PLA) will now feature product ratings. Currently this feature is only available in the U.S. but Google have stated that it will be introducing product ratings in additional countries throughout 2014. Definitely something to keep an eye on if you use reviews on your website.

Finally, Google Analytics App Arrives on iPhone

Another development from Google this week saw a version of Google Analytics released for iPhone. The iPhone app comes more than two years after Google released Google Analytics for Android and allows users to check in on their website analytics — including real-time visitor reports — from the comfort of their smartphone. In addition to real-time and time-based reports, the app can be used to view behaviors, conversions and more.

See you next week!