Using Christmas 2017 trends to grow sales

As well as keeping on top of developments in retail strategy, our many years living and breathing retail has made the Leapfrogg team keen design trend spotters.

Although not always relevant to a consistent or seasonal product strategy, understanding how design and visual trends are developing is important when helping us make recommendations on how to keep merchandising and marketing imagery fresh, how to ensure email marketing is on trend and how your product images stay fresh and engaging on social media.

Rosie is a frequent speaker at Pulse and this year, came back with three main trends that had been spotted at the show:

Bloomsbury Christmas

Rosie’s favourite, Bloomsbury is a festive celebration of the dark interiors trend, rich, dark colours and textures, with big blooming florals. Layering is key to create a luxurious, sumptuous feel.

Rich burgundy, deep plum tones and navy are accentuated with the satin textures of orchid, magnolia petals and pearl.  Think luxe, butter soft leathers, with hints of opulent gold and richly scented candles to create an intimate and luxurious mood.

Decorate table tops with lavish floral arrangements and collections of exotic, metallic trinkets

A brand that brings the Bloomsbury Christmas to life is interiors stylist and designer Anna Hayman, for more inspiration on this trend, follow her on Instagram (her gold leather curtains are our particular fav!).

Nomadic Christmas

Gwen’s favourite, Nomadic Christmas is a combination of this year’s global nomad and scandi themes; the bare woods and simple, clean lines of scandi interiors are softened with rustic finishes, artisanal soft furnishings and oodles of greenery

This trend is embodied by a cool and calm palette of eucalyptus greens, warm greys, navy, charcoal and dark denim blue. Rich browns and pops of dusty pink add an earthy element.

Feature furniture pieces are made from bleached wood, draped in patch work and geometric patterned rugs and heavy rustic fabrics.

For the Christmas table, think heavy linens, crackle glazed artisanal bowls, miss-matching plate settings and wooden serving spoons.

For inspiration on this interiors trend, check out blogger Kate Young on Instagram.

Indulgent Christmas

Lucy’s favourite, the Indulgent Christmas trend explodes with excesses of glitter, tinsel, clashing brights and glitter, plenty of glitter!  High shine metallics and over the top decorations in man-made fibres and plastics, a room decorated in the Indulgent Christmas trend looks like a bomb went off in a party poppers factory and some unicorns tried to put it out with a glitter cannon.

Colours are vibrant and clashing, with Miami inspired colour combinations of turquoise, orange, pinks and lilacs adding lightness to the usual Christmas reds and golds

More is more with this interiors trend, so spray paint objects pink and tie them to the tree and cover everything in rainbow glitters – including yourselves!

Read blogger Sarah Akwisombe’s Christmas styling posts for inspiration on how to bring this trend to life.

We’ve put the following tips together to help you make the most of these trends:

  • Go through your product portfolio and identify any that could sit well into a trend, refresh the product copy if relevant and optimise for any trend related natural searches
  • Experiment with some of your paid search spend – what trend related search terms could you appropriately target to pull further traffic into your product pages?
  • Ensure your social team are incorporating relevant trend hashtags into their posts about your products, you could inspire engagement from a new audience if you’re are visible
  • Include nods to the trends that sit best with your products with any seasonal photography, to ensure your imagery stays fresh and ahead of the curve
  • Try product placement or developing a relationship with key bloggers within each trend niche – featuring in their marketing and media not only positions you well within a trend, but is worth PR riches

 

Tips to help retailers win in 2017

With today’s warnings from high street bell-weather, Next, on the challenging year ahead, there’s no denying that the perfect storm of economic climate, tighter spending belts from cannier consumers and shifts in the sale seasons we’ve seen as the UK embraces Black Friday, has had a knock on effect on Christmas shopping patterns and a detrimental impact on retail revenue this season.

It’s now more important than ever to have a solid January to make up any shortfall from Christmas and put good foundations in place for a successful 2017.

We’ve put together some tips for retailers to get 2017 trading off to a good start:

Do you really know who your customers are?

The key to successful retailing, is of course, acquiring and retaining the right type of customer for your business. This is, in turn, reliant on being able to identify who they are and how to attract them.

When was the last time you had a look at your transactional data to explore who your best customers actually were, what they buy from you, how often and what they actually want from your product range and marketing?

If you don’t know that now, with 2017 set to be another fierce year competing for consumer £££s, you must spend January digging into your data and learning everything you can about your customer.

Don’t market to your customers – give them a great experience!

The luxury retail trend of providing customers with a fabulous in-store experience has finally filtered onto the high street, with TopShop and John Lewis both launching in-store facilities that brought the shopping experience to life in 2016. Creating a shopping ‘environment’ isn’t a trend that is going to go away, it’s how clever retailers now ensure retention of happy customers and it’s not confined to bricks and mortar.

When you know what your customer wants from you, emulate that experience online. Is excellent customer service more important to them than price? If so, invest in live-chat, or a better presence on social channels to answer customer queries. Do your customers ask friends and family for advice before committing to a big purchase? If so, make sure your reviews are showing up in your internet search results or work with key industry influencers to give you that editorial cache.

Most importantly, do you have the right team to deliver?

Does your existing team have the skill set to cope with the shifts in consumer expectations and the cannier digital execution needed to retain them?
Digital disciplines established in silos for years; SEO, social media, affiliates and PR are seeing a convergence like never before and you may find that a team that was previously structured beautifully now has glaring gaps from those experts who can see the bigger picture of what a customer wants and have the ability to develop quick solutions to provide it.

Use January as a time to take an objective look at the team you currently have in the business and identify where you may need to skill up.

With these foundations in place, you can look forward to 2017 and coping with all the retailing challenges it throws at you.

3 Christmas marketing tips you still have time to action

Well folks now that Halloween is over all thoughts are now firmly with the approaching Christmas sales season. Most retailers are now heading into their busiest time of year whether that is pre-Christmas gift buying or post-Christmas sales.

 

 

We always recommend that the Christmas marketing wheels start turning in July but for those retailers who have left it late (I hope not many of you!!) there are still things you can action now to maximise Christmas sales over the coming weeks.

Here are our 3 top tips that can be easily implemented now.

1.Christmas gift curation

If you sell products that are suitable as a gift then tell your customers about it! Create a separate category on your site labelled Christmas and put in it a selection of products you think are most likely to sell at Christmas or you want to particularly push. Use your paid search and clear links on the home page to drive customers to it that may be looking for gifts. In our time pressured society many consumers want you to make recommendations of great gifts to buy and why, so make it easy for them. Create sub categories “gifts for him” “gifts for her” “gifts under £20” etc. and include in your product descriptions why those products make great gifts and how quickly you can deliver them.

2.Talk to your customers about giving your products as gifts

I know it sounds obvious but you have a whole load of customers who have bought from you before that may not be thinking of you when it comes to buying presents for others. Make sure as part of your ongoing email marketing program that you are sending emails with content related specifically to Christmas gifting, not just Christmas offers (hopefully linking through to the Christmas section on your site).

3.Don’t forget key seasonal dates

Yes of course everyone knows about Black Friday, Cyber Monday etc. but just make sure you have your ducks in a row on what you are going to offer and when. Amazon have moved the goal posts again only this week by announcing 52 days of Black Friday sales with discounts galore up until 22nd Dec. They have even created a Black Friday section of the site. Whatever your take on promotional activity around these dates make sure you know what you are offering, for how long and how you are going to promote that activity across all of your channels. One tip is make sure you up weight your paid budgets for key sellers and key discounted products as well as brand around those key events to make sure you don’t miss out on traffic.

This post is short and sharp but is probably all you have time to digest in this busy season. Combine these quick tips with those from Lucy and Gwen in our previous Christmas marketing posts and you should be in a much stronger position this festive season not only to gain new customers but maximise their value into 2017.

Boost your festive ROI
Using the Christmas rush to build 2017 sales

Using the Christmas rush to build 2017 sales

For most retailers, the run up to Christmas is a very busy time, when sometimes planning and strategy fly out of the door to be replaced by ringing tills and fast and furious seasonal transacting.

But approached with thought, your Christmas rush doesn’t just need to be a short sharp peak in your annual sales figures, but can be coaxed into something a lot more meaningful for your brand.

In this blog post, we look at 3 simple tips to keep your Christmas rush paying throughout the year.

Collect, collect, collect:

Make your data collection process as quick and simple as possible.

For ecommerce retailers, as well as collecting data during the check-out process, ensure you enable relevant pop up data capture points at key areas on your homepage and as browsing customers leave the site.

For bricks and mortar retailers, investigate how you can capture email addresses along with transactional data at till point. Can you email your customers a receipt? In its simplest form, can you ask customers to leave their email addresses while the transaction is going on, with the offer of January discounts?

Ensure the process is as easy as possible, so your full time staff can fit it in to the conversation at a busy till point and seasonal staff don’t feel awkward asking. If relevant for your business, reward staff for the number of email addresses and data captured to keep that data being collected.

Segment, segment, segment:

Once the Christmas rush is over and we’re in the February lull, take the time to look through the transactional data and see what sparkly Christmas treasures it holds.

For online retailers and those bricks and mortar stores who were able to capture data electronically at till point, you should be able to segment Christmas sales into at least three simple segments:

  • Existing customers buying more at Christmas
  • Brand new customers who have never bought before
  • Those who bought last Christmas and came back for more

Each of these segments can then be nurtured with different messaging over the coming months to turn them from Christmas customers into loyal, year round shoppers:

Existing customers – communicate your thanks, ask them if their friends and family liked their gifts, (or if they enjoyed their own Christmas treats!). Offer them a friends and family incentive for those who they bought gifts for, or a thank you offer for being such a loyal customer (to coincide with any SS17 collection, obviously…).

Brand new customers – welcome them into an engagement programme, share with them your social and blog content, involve them in what you’re doing as a brand and motivate them to return to purchase.

Christmas (or sale) only customers – ask them why they don’t shop with you at any other times of the year, you’re sure to find out something useful; thank them for their input and pop them on the back burner to re-invigorate at your next sale period or Christmas.

If you can’t segment, just say thanks:

For those retailers without the ability to cross reference transactional data with customer data, a simple “thank you” can often work wonders.

Tell them you were grateful for their custom, that they made a difference to you and offer them an incentive to come back soon.

Happy Christmas!

Boost your Festive ROI – Five top tips to maximise Christmas sales

With £24 billion spent online in the UK in the 8 weeks running up to Christmas in 2015 and a further 11% rise predicted for 2016, how prepared are you to take advantage of this years bumper sales season? In this post I am going to explore five top tips to turn up the dial up on the activity you are doing already to boost ROI.

 

Dedicated Landing Page / Onsite Content

Your onsite strategy must include bespoke landing pages dedicated to Christmas, ideally getting pages live in October so they have time to bed in and become well established in time for the busy period.

Make sure your customer is at the heart of your content, consider how they might be searching, who are they buying for, what budget will they spend? Creating relevant onsite content that is useful, engaging and that has a clear call to action will be key to driving conversion.

Curate your best edit into a Christmas Gift guide, price band filtering to easily aid customers who have a specific budget in mind, along with ‘Gifts for him’, ‘Gifts for her’, ‘Gifts for kids’ to direct users to the most relevant content.

Getting your onsite content nailed then allows you to integrate your offsite strategy and funnel people to the most relevant content. Creating a consistent message on and off site, increasing awareness, engagement and ultimately conversion through a targeted approach.

Make sure messaging, offers and promotions in your offsite activity are clearly detailed on the landing page you are directing customers to, there’s nothing more frustrating than landing on a page without the relevant information on the offer, promotion or product you’ve seen.

Brand Paid Search

Brand Paid Search can be used cheaply and effectively to promote onsite messages and promotions. Creating consistent messaging across touch points.

“But no one is bidding on my brand term” I hear you cry “why would I pay for traffic I am getting organically?!” A very valid question…

Not all retailers run brand Paid Search year round, if you have no competition on your brand terms why would you? Competition or not, tactical use of Brand and Brand + Product Paid Search gives you seasonal and time sensitive flexibility in your message, that your well optimised but generic Natural Search listing can’t. Using site links to drive traffic to your Christmas content, gift guides and dedicated landing pages, plus call out extensions to highlight key messages such as delivery, price matching, returns etc.

If you haven’t already completed your trademark authorisation with Google, this allows you to associate your Adwords account as the trademark owner, create a list of authorised resellers if appropriate. We’ve seen clients brand CPCs drop after they have claimed and managed their Trademark authorisation.

Personalisation of offers

Use your data wisely, tap into your customer segments and personalise your message across touch points. Offering your customers relevant and timely offers that will drive them back to the site to buy.

Not all site visitors are made equal, use your remarketing lists and customer segments to create a more personalised message depending on the visitors site behaviour.

Abandon baskets being the Holy Grail and those primed to buy. Often retailers are all too quick to go straight in with a discount, when people can be tempted back without taking a big hit on your margin. We have seen great success with a tiered offering, for example:

No purchase within 24 hours – Free Next Day Delivery
No purchase within 1 week – Gift with purchase / free gift wrapping
No purchase within 2 weeks – X% discount

New vs returning – Depending on your strategy whether that be acquisition, retention or both! Use your remarketing list for search ads to show new and returning visitors different, relevant and personalised messages e.g. introductory offer to new customers, returning visitor promotional code. Also optimise bids based on behaviour so perhaps a 25% bid increase for returning customers.

RLSAs will also allow you to target terms you wouldn’t normally target, it opens up keywords that perhaps would be too expensive and perhaps broad, just for visitors who have been to the site or who have converted before.

Create sense of urgency

Black Friday was the busiest trading week last year with estimated sales of £4.3 billion last year, up 62% on 2014. In just two years the shift from Black Friday being a Bricks and Mortar event on a single day to a week of online offers.

Why have we all gone so crazy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Creating that sense of urgency with time sensitive offers is a brilliant conversion tactic to push people to purchase, however don’t over use it or people will learn to ignore it.

  • Some examples on how to do this:
  • Flash sale / promotions for a limited time period
  • AdWords dynamic countdown ads are a great, they have proven to significantly increase CTR and drive more traffic to the site
  • Sneak previews for your VIPs – let them have access to say the Christmas edit, Sale or similar 24 hours before it’s unveiled to the general public
  • Shipping offers for a limited period
  • Last order dates to get in time for Christmas
  • Stock levels for products with limited availability

Social commerce

So you’ve spent 2016 gaining followers, driving engagement, so how can you monetise social further in the busy period?

Optimise your calls to action, for example on Facebook:

  • Shop Now – direct fans to your website if sales are the primary objective
  • Send Message – Allows fans to send a private message directly to your Facebook account, where you could start the order process
  • Call Now – you get the idea right!

Facebook Shop:

Most ecommerce platforms now have an app or plugin to pull your site inventory into Facebook. We saw sales increase 50% after launching a Facebook Shop and promoting through Paid Social ads. With the rise of mobile commerce people are far more comfortable buying direct from their phone and through social commerce.

Content Optimisation:

Ensure that content is optimised for each channel. This will ensure a high quality appearance, better visibility within users’ timelines and increased engagement. One size does not fit all!

Promoted Content:

Organic reach has declined dramatically on all platforms, particularly Facebook. Boosting posts on Facebook and Twitter with small amounts of budget can drastically increase reach and engagement, as well as driving fan acquisition.

Ultimately these tips are designed to help you squeeze the ROI out of activity you are already doing, maximising visibility and efficiency of budget and time invested over the next 10 weeks.

Operational tips for independent retailers learnt from the big boys

One of the things I love the most about digital is the lightning speed at which it changes, the flexibility and adaptability required to keep ahead of the curve at the cutting edge is phenomenal. As someone who is motivated by new challenges and finding solutions, this speed of change keeps me interested and excited all the time. Retail digital consultancy luckily lends itself to fast paced adaptation. Being operationally nimble is no small feat and certainly not something to be under estimated.

Having spent the last six years working with retailers there are common hurdles and barriers to success I see time and again. In this post I am going to explore five of the lessons independent and growing retailers can learn from the big ones, and get right.

Unity

All too often I see big in house teams divided, marketing and ecommerce working independently, to goals that don’t align with each other. Marketing speak digital but don’t fully understand it. Ecommerce are revenue orientated and are laser focused on the 2-3% of site visitors who are converting, often neglecting the other 98% of visitors who need to be engaged through the brand experience. Brand vs Ecommerce, ultimately with the customer suffering as the result.

Unify your team, set collaborative goals and clear lines of ownership.

Your marketing team should own acquisition, retention, engagement and advocacy. Bringing together harmony between departments is the only way to do this successfully. Up skill your brand team to exploit opportunity and support the ecommerce function but with the customer at the heart.

KPIs must be centralised and teams working collectively to the same goal. Minimise waste, maximise efficiency and create a unified customer experience.

Vanity Vs. Sanity

Get to know your customer, marketing should be aspirational but it also needs to be inclusive and realistic. All too often brands have an idea of who their customers are or who they would like them to be, but the reality of those actually buying is very different.

Use your data effectively, investing in your data partner and getting your customer data in good shape is essential. Build a centralised, single view across all channels, no silos or duplication of databases!

Segment your data and get to know your customer beyond their purchase, who are they, what do they care about, how do they want to be communicated with.

Each part of your business can then use this data to create a perfect experience across all touch points for all segments.

Look beyond last click

All activity needs to be driving a return that of course is a no brainer. However all channels are not equal when it comes to ROI. All too often activity gets canned (mostly by the FD!) if it is in a silo and cannot hold its own in the ROI stakes.

Don’t underestimate the halo effect of activity, ensure your reporting looks deeper at metrics such as assisted sales, brand and non-brand impressions, new visitors vs returning, engagement etc.

Set realistic goals with conversion in mind. Appearing number 1 for high volume generic terms may boost your ego (and cost a pretty penny), but will those customers actually convert?

Make structured change and measure the impact. Changing lots of things at once can leave you unsure of what impact each change has had. Analyse, develop, test and repeat.

Jack of all, master of none

The temptation to try and do everything, be everywhere and use all channels and tactics is all to present for brands. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be for the bottom line.

Use your customer insight and data to identify where your customers are actually spending their time and getting their inspiration and turn that into action. Invest your budget wisely.

Embarking on activity without a clear brief or objective is the road to failure. Make sure you know what you want to achieve from the activity and set clear goals so you can kick the tires and test the effectiveness of it. Analyze, develop, test and repeat.

Do less but do it brilliantly.

Direct to consumer vs wholesale

All too often do we see brands battling with their stockists for market share. Trade team driving forward their partners whilst the ecommerce team are hemorrhaging budget trying to keep up with the big players and their deep pockets.

Get your Trade and Ecommerce teams working together.

Agree terms and guidelines around products, pricing, promotions and brand bidding through paid media in your trade agreements.

Retain exclusives so you are the go to for the full range or hero products.

Get full visibility on stockist promotional activity and align your promotional strategy. Enabling you to manage your budget effectively in times when you may not be price competitive.

Submit your authorised stockist list to Google via their trademark form. This allows only authorised stockists the ability to use your brand name in their ad copy. Simple and effective but also needs policing.

All of the recommendations above are well within the reach of smaller retailers. They don’t require huge budgets, just time and focus. What are your barriers to success? Speak to us now about how we can help you start making a change in your business.

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.

 

The six principles of influence in web design

I recently attended The Neilson UX Week’s Persuasive Web Design Course and was introduced to The Six Principles of Influence from the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini. Katie Sherwin applied the principles to website design and it was really interesting to see how they could be used to improve the usability of your website to make your customers happy and spend more.

Here’s a brief overview:

The Rule of Reciprocation

The Rule of Reciprocation, in its simplest form, is the principle of feeling an obligation to repay someone when they have provided us with something.

A real life example of this in action is the Hare Krishna. They adopted a technique of giving flowers as gifts before asking for a donation. Having received a gift, it subsequently made it much harder for people to refuse a request for a small donation.

How does this rule apply today on the web? Examples include offering free whitepapers and instructional videos. However, companies often get this wrong by requesting something from the user before giving them anything at all.

Don’t ask for too much too early. For example, presenting a user with a ‘sign-up to our email newsletter’ pop up before they have even viewed a page of your website is only going to result in a negative feeling towards your brand.
Avoid asking for personal data before allowing access to content or requiring subscriptions or credit card information for ‘free’ trials.

Start by giving your customers something and ask for as little from them as possible. If you request information later on, your customers are more likely to reciprocate by doing business with the company.

Read more on the Reciprocity Principle in user experience.

The Rule of Consistency

People are driven to be consistent in all areas of life – in what they say and do and their attitudes, opinions, beliefs and values. Once a person makes a decision, takes a stand, or performs an action, they tend to strive to make all future behaviour align to this.

Consistency makes thinking easy, because there’s little thinking needed. If you can get someone to make a commitment, you can trigger the Rule of Consistency and the commitment can be small and seemingly inconsequential.

This can often be seen when consumers stick with brands that they have bought before and trust, even if they are more expensive.

The Rule of Social Proof

The rule of social proof is a fairly straightforward and one we are exposed to a lot on the internet.

Essentially, it’s the act of following others without thinking and can be described as a shortcut for making decisions. If we see others doing something then we often assume that it is the right thing to do. The more people we see doing something, the more likely we perceive it to be correct.

This principle is magnified if the person or people we are following seem similar to us or look like they have similar values, in which case we trust them more.

We see retailers online using this principle in the form of product reviews and trust icons. If you want someone to do something, show others doing it.

reviews

Read more on Social Proof in web design.

The Rule of Liking

The Rule of Liking can best be explained using the example of Tupperware parties. Tupperware struggled to sell in store, but when sold in person by people who knew each other, the products then became a success.

People prefer to say ‘yes’ to people they know and like, with the actual product often taking a backseat in the process.
Organisations and brands, both established and start-ups alike, can benefit from this principle and studies have shown the following to be key factors:

  • Similarity – We like people who we perceive are like us
  • Familiarity – Positive interaction with an organisation or person encourages liking
  • Cooperation – We like people who want to help us
  • Association – We like people who share our values
  • Praise – We like people who compliment us, even if we know it isn’t completely without alternative motive

Simple ways to improve the likability of your website include using photos of real people which can help customers remember that they are talking with a human being which may encourage them to be more polite and tolerant.

Including in depth company history and an ‘about us’ web page can also help a customers feel an emotional connection to a brand and not just see it as another website.

Where other rules such as social proof and scarcity can have an instant impact on a user’s action, liking is much longer term and can encourage customer retention.

More on the Liking Principle in website user experience.

The Rule of Authority

There have been many studies that show how people react to symbols of authority such as titles, clothing and reputation of source and users look for similar trust indicators when reviewing a website.

These symbols of authority that are often enough to gain compliance in real life situations aren’t quite so easy to apply to your website.

To establish your organisation or brand as an authority you must first establish genuine credibility through expertise and trustworthiness. Only then can you gain the benefits from clearly displaying ‘as seen in’, ‘awards’ and ‘accreditations’ on your site.

The Rule of Scarcity

People assign more value to opportunities that are less available. Things that are difficult to attain are perceived as more valuable. An example of this in the real world in retail can be seen with the emergence of Black Friday. A limited number of products at discounted prices can send customers into a frenzy.

People fear loss and studies have shown how losses are twice as painful, as gains are enjoyable.

The Rule of Scarcity can be seen in action on product pages highlighting limited stock, another person viewing that product, a sale ending soon, or through invite only social media and flash sale websites.

2 in stock

Read more on the Principle of Scarcity in UX

In conclusion

When looking at your website and business, review with these rules in mind and where possible look to take advantage of them.

The key to effectively employing any of these rules is user research. If you don’t know your users well enough, it is much more difficult to anticipate what will and won’t work.

Key takeaways from SheerB2B – a conversation with the customer

Last week saw SheerLuxe host their annual SheerB2B conference at The Worx in Parsons Green.

This is a great event which focuses on all areas of digital marketing for the premium & luxury sector. Leapfrogg have been a headline sponsor for five years and it’s one of our favourite events of the year to meet and network with people working across our niche sector.

This year was no exception and we were particularly pleased that the theme of this year’s conference was “customer centricity” in marketing as it’s a subject we’re passionate about. The two day event featured a fantastic line of speakers from retailers and brands as well as expert suppliers.

In this post, I have pulled out the key takeaways and highlights that I found most interesting from the conference.

Who is the luxury buyer in 2015?

First up on day one was Lara Bonney from Abacus who shared their recent findings on the luxury customer in 2015. Here are some of the key insights she shared:

73% of wealthy consumers identified “luxury” as “superior quality,” and they expect the experience of buying a luxury product to be as good as owning it. They seek exclusivity and stylish stores as well as a close relationship with sales assistants. They also believe it is worth paying more for quality items.

Less than a quarter of luxury consumers buy online BUT 50% research the items they want to buy online. 7 out of 10 consumers used social media in 2014 and 50% of them used Facebook.

Lara also talked about the importance of the catalogue as part of the luxury shopping experience using Boden as an example who saw a 30% increase in response from personalising their catalogues.

She also explained that many premium brands assume their customers are women where in fact in many cases over 50% are men! This was a recurring theme across the conference – never assume you know what your customers want and gain insight by asking them questions to really understand them.

We couldn’t agree more!

Grow your business with customer-centric strategies

Maria Hatzistefanis, the founder of Rodial Skincare, spoke about the need to connect properly with your customer. Maria explained how Rodial designed their packaging to appeal to their customers and picked highly effective brand ambassadors. She explained how celebrity Kylie Jenner had created a huge amount of brand awareness for Rodial as a brand ambassador after using the product and tweeting about it.

At Leapfrogg we absolutely agree that selecting the right brand ambassadors to connect with your customer is crucial, but we also believe that you should be joining the dots between all content producing and marketing teams in your business to ensure you’re making the most of your relationships to produce content across all channels.

Create effective blogger outreach strategies

Anna Hart is a blogger who runs a network called Pitch & Post to help connect brands with relevant bloggers and in her talk she shared some great insights into what bloggers really want from brands:

  • Exposure: bloggers utilise relationships with brands to grow their own following and keep them current in their readers’ minds
  • Revenue: bloggers can’t pay bills with free shoes! Be prepared to pay them what they are worth
  • Product: bloggers blog because they are passionate about what they write about. Giving them access to products is therefore a real incentive as long as it is done legally!
  • Strong images: provide bloggers with great visual content they can use. It costs them money to create themselves.
  • Fun opportunities: be interesting and fun to work with!

Anna’s tips on how to treat bloggers included:

  • Treat them as you would a media partner with long term content plans as well as immediate needs
  • Consider that bloggers need paying for at least 50% of their content
  • Always ask to see analytics of their blog to help you value their worth to you!

Get the basics right

Joanna from ReynoldsBushyLee spoke about many of the mistakes that retailers make in customer experience – a great reminder of how brands really do need to get the basics right online! She also had the best quote of the day from Ghandi:
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.

He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it.

We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Tailor your marketing to millennials

Marketing Consultant, Jennifer Roebuck, spoke brilliantly about marketing to millennials and broke many myths of how people perceive the younger generations.

She split the large group of millennials into two groups; The Entrepreneur and The Multitasker. The Entrepreneur is aged 18 – 25 and is engaged with global issues and a desire to be creative. The Entrepreneur is keen to lead a balanced career and identifies with beauty that is effortless.

The Multitasker is aged 25 – 35 years old lives life with purpose and wants to make the world a better place. They want rewarding experiences in life but will manage their finances carefully.

Therefore marketing to this more thoughtful generation is very different to the brash and possession focused Gen X. Brands must have purpose other than making money, be savvy yet approachable and be hugely personal to the people who buy from them. Luxury brands wanting to sell to this younger set take note!

Customer experience is the most exciting opportunity for retailers

Peter Abraham from Econsultancy talked us through their recent research on the ‘Pillars of Successful Ecommerce’. Here are the most interesting facts:
22% of businesses view “Customer Experience” as the most exciting opportunity for their business over the next five years.

The main business benefits of customer experience optimisation are:

• Higher engagement and conversion rates
• Better brand perception & loyalty
• Renewal, cross-sell and upsell
Customers who are personalising web experiences are seeing an average 19% uplift in sales.
We have been preaching the importance of customer experience for a number of years so were very pleased to see large scale research backing up our opinion.

Ensure digital and direct marketing work in unison

Rosemary Stockdale from Sterling Marketing gave a very interesting talk on the importance of the printed catalogue within the marketing mix for luxury and premium retailers and brands.

She shared insight from Royal Mail that showed that 51% of consumers prefer a combination of mail and email from the brands they shop with and 57% of consumers feel more valued by a brand that sends them a catalogue.
She spoke about Net-a-Porter’s brilliant ‘Porter’ magazine highlighting that 83% of its 32k subscribers said the magazine was the number one influence in helping them decide what to buy online.
She also talked us through how online fashion retailer, Atterley Road launched a publication on a much smaller budget which has helped launch their own brand range and has increased customer spend and retention.
As an agency we push continually to ensure digital marketing ties in very closely with direct as we know that a combined approach can lead to far higher AOV and repeat purchase.

Personalisation is key

Ben Blackwell from Oka spoke about how Oka used a simple solution from Nostra to personalise the online experience for their customers. This tool helped OKA group relevant products together and offer additional products leading to an increase in AOV on the site of 33% and an increase in conversion rate of 24%.
Neither of those are to be sniffed at and all smaller retailers can use tools like these at an affordable entry cost to start seeing immediate results!

Use customer insight to make decisions

Becky Hardman from Shop Direct talked the audience through how Shop Direct used its huge wealth of customer data and insight to launch their new premium brand Very Exclusive.

Access to customer  data allowed Very Exclusive to create a specific set of personas to target for their launch. Here at Leapfrogg, we are huge advocates of using customer personas to engage with your customer.
She also spoke about the need to create very different visuals for the premium and high fashion customer and how they created a different style of photographs for their products that focussed on style rather than model. This also fed through to the premium packaging they have introduced to offer a more premium experience.

You don’t need huge budgets like to Shop Direct to do this. There are many ways to find out more about your customers at low cost just by asking them!

 

Phew! Well the above is only a small selection of the great insight that was shared at the event. It was great to see so many brands and suppliers sharing the view that understanding your customer and putting them at the heart of your business and marketing really is the way to succeed today, particularly in the premium and luxury market.

This is a view we have had at Leapfrogg for a long time now and why the ethos for everything we do is to make our clients’ customers happy, by delivering premium digital experiences that meet our clients’ customers’ needs and desires.

 

Until next year!

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.