How retailers SHOULD mention the C word (Christmas) right now!

If you’re a regular to our blog you’ll know we preach Christmas planning every year! However with the growing popularity of Black Friday, and savvy shoppers starting their Christmas buying earlier every year planning your Christmas and pre-Christmas strategy now is essential to success.

Building on our recommendations from previous posts:

Tis the season to start planning for Christmas

Christmas in July what you should be doing now

We have even more top tips for you!

What do you customers want?

All good strategies should start with customer insight, ask your customers about their planned shopping behaviour for this year. A simple Survey using a tool like survey monkey can help you unlock data for planning your Christmas marketing strategy.

Will your customers be looking out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals? If so what deals most appeal to them?

Use this to test popularity of your Christmas Gifting products by asking your customers which ones they would be most interested in. Who they might be gifting for and how much they might be looking to spend.

Check in with them on what channels they use when researching there Christmas gifts, are they reading blogs? How important are reviews? What social channels do they focus on?

In a crowded space understanding what is most important to your customers will help you plan your budget and tactics effectively.

Social media

We talked lot in our previous post about getting you content right on social, making sure your potential customers have an exceptional experience with you is also not to be forgotten. With increased traffic, customers and sales making sure your customer service through all channels is impeccable is essential to creating happy customers.

With social media taking an ever more present seat in customer service, and those comments and conversation being available in the public arena up weighting your customer service staff is a must. Whilst that’s not rocket science ensuring you have enough time to train them and get them up to speed with your brand and social media guidelines, get them fluent in all the new product inventory and offers will only make for better customer service and improved sales.

So make sure staff and training is included in your budget.

Mobile first

Again not an unfamiliar message from us on optimising for mobile, with Google planned Mobile First index roll out if it’s not on your list to be looked at it should.

Google assures us it’s some months away but that shouldn’t stop you from getting started now. Here’s a couple of great articles on what mobile first mean and some tips on how to prepare from our friends are search engine land.

 

90 days may seem like a long time but it’ll be here before you know it. For support planning your Christmas strategy do not hesitate to get in touch

Black Friday & Cyber Monday – How to use them strategically to make a positive difference to your business

Christmas 2016 was a bit of a mixed bag for retailers, with the ‘new normal’ trading peaks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday now firmly entrenched in consumer’s minds.  We remember a little last minute panic as retailers hadn’t hit targets early in the Christmas trading season, but overall the on-and offline high street had done well by the time the alka selzer had stopped fizzing and the New Year’s hangover had receded.

The retail industry has been gearing up for this year’s festive season since July, but after a tough year for some, how do you ensure that Christmas 2017 becomes your game changing season?

The biggest question in retailer’s minds at the moment, is Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Now an established feature of the trading calendar, it’s an event in itself – but how should you approach it and is it right for you?

We’ve rounded up the key ways for you to identify the value of this retail event to your business to help you approach and plan for Christmas differently this year.

SCRUTINISE YOUR DATA

We know, you’ve heard this before, but central to your decision to stay on or jump off the Black Friday / Cyber Monday band wagon is a cold hard look at how it affected your overall Q4, and 2017 sales figures.

Did you genuinely make more because of your early discounting, or did you make the same across the period, just at different points?

The customers that you won over this period, have they gone on to become loyal repeat customers, or did they buy at a discount to be never seen again? You have 3 Qs worth of transactional data to crunch to enable you to make a strategic decision to invest time, energy and product to Black Friday / Cyber Monday.

We’ve spoken to many retailers who are going to resist the temptation of black Friday this year, but behind that decision is a very clear understanding of how potentially damaging (or indeed, rewarding) the effort to take part and get the cut through you want, is.

CAN YOU USE BLACK FRIDAY TO IDENTIFY AND TARGET THE GROWTH OF YOUR DATABASE?

It is possible to use Black Friday / Cyber Monday strategically of course.  If from scrutinising your data, you won some customers that did make a positive difference to your business, can you win more look-a-like customers from offering a similar offer than you did last year?

DO YOU HAVE THE TIME AND RESOURCE TO GENUINELY CONNECT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS WELL BEFORE BLACK FRIDAY?

We know you have an email marketing strategy and you probably have a solid content strategy – but can you, hand on heart, expect your customer’s loyalty this Christmas, or do you risk their heads being turned by a different and exciting brand in the melee of Black Friday / Cyber Monday?

Along with the scrutiny of your transactional data – make sure you know how to really engage with your customers to keep them with you during the festive period.  It’s disappointing how many bland marketing messages are seen at Christmas and if you choose to not do Black Friday, then you need a laser focus on your customers and an effective plan to engage, upsell and retain them.

Alternatively, why not just target your existing customers with a Black Friday message?  Focus on rewarding them just before Christmas with an added value message to encourage further loyalty.

Retailers don’t have to be beholden to Black Friday & Cyber Monday to win this festive season, but by taking a step back, identifying its bigger picture value to your business and planning to make the most of it, you can make Black Friday work strategically for you, if indeed, you discover it’s right for you and your business at all.

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.

Insight Edit: How did consumers really engage with Black Friday?

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

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

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

How did our panel shop on Black Friday?

Back in November, we asked our The Premium Panel their thoughts on Black Friday. Much to our surprise, 80% of our panel stated that they were not planning on letting Black Friday influence their shopping habits over the Christmas period. This was a view which conflicted heavily with the industry press who predicted that 2015 would be the biggest Black Friday yet.

Now Black Friday has been and gone, we asked our Premium Panel whether their attitudes towards Black Friday shifted when the day actually arrived.
Black Friday John Lewis

68.2% of our panel did not make a purchase on Black Friday

This means the vast proportion of those we asked before Black Friday stuck to their views that they were not going to get involved this year.

Only 3% of respondents purchased sale items in a store on Black Friday, whilst 27% bought items online.

These findings back up reports that stated that a majority of Black Friday purchases were made online rather than in-store after the mayhem of previous years.

We then asked those who did not to make a purchase on Black Friday, why they chose not too.

44% of consumers said they did not buy an item on Black Friday because they did not see anything they liked.

Perhaps many items that retailers had chosen to discount this year were not the popular products that consumers desired.

23% of those who didn’t purchase said they didn’t buy anything because they don’t agree with Black Friday and what it stands for. We will be interested to see how this view changes over the next couple of years as Black Friday becomes more widely known.

79% of those who did make a Black Friday purchase were buying for their friends and family as you would expect near Christmas. However, 45% of our panel members also bought items for themselves.

Summary

In light of our findings, one possible explanation could be that Black Friday, despite having grown rapidly in recent years, could be moving into decline as a concept and many are choosing to avoid the hype. Perhaps retailers were more cautious with their discounting and, therefore, consumers were less likely to find the products they wanted to purchase, or perhaps they were simply overwhelmed by the discounting. This underlines our belief that the best way to make the most of the Christmas period, whilst providing the best experience, is to offer great products at consistently good prices.

Transactional analysis & customer segmentation for retailers

In today’s customer focused world analysing your transactional data is fundamental. If you do not know who your most profitable customers are, which are low value and which have the most future potential – how can you deliver a suitable online experience to help you acquire and retain the RIGHT ones to deliver success?

Many boutique and niche retailers know they need this data but don’t know where to start, or perceive getting the analysis done to be highly expensive and complicated.

We have therefore conducted an interview with Ben Collier at our partner Abacus to give a clearer picture of the types of data and analysis available to smaller businesses without extensive customer databases or insight budgets.

In a nut shell what does Abacus do?

“Abacus works with over 500 multi-channel retailers and publishers of all sizes to support their customer recruitment and retention campaigns and wider marketing strategy by providing data and customer insight based on market-wide consumer buying behaviours.”

Why is customer transactional data so important to niche and boutique retailers?

“For any size brand, it’s crucial to capture details of the transactions your customers make with you, their delivery and contact details and their marketing preferences. This allows you to understand the buying behaviours and attitudes of the different segments within your customer database and to communicate with those segments in a way that they like and will respond to. Working with partners like Abacus can then help you unlock the spend potential of those existing customer segments and find profitable new customers.”

What benefit can analysis bring a smaller brand?

“Even a smaller brand with a limited database can share their transactional data with Abacus with many positive outcomes.
Understanding when, how frequently and how much your customers spend with other retailers and publishers in the market allows you to:

Profitably grow your customer database by sending your direct marketing messages to the most responsive individuals. Marrying what you know about your customers with what Abacus can tell you about their multiple market-wide purchases allows you to find prospective customers who share the same profile.

Effectively retain existing and reactive lapsed customers by understanding what, when and how frequently they buy elsewhere in the market.

Grow your share of wallet by comparing your customers’ spend with you vs your competitors and sending the most relevant offers to different customer segments.

Validate your wider marketing strategy by understanding what other types of brand your customers buy from and when they buy, what their lifestyle and demographic attributes are and when your competitors send their campaigns.

Identify the health of your customer database by understanding the customer and sales trends in recent years segmented by new, loyal, reactivated and lapsed customers.
The best bit? Understanding your customers and targeting the right individuals at the right time and in the right way is so easy to do… so long as you capture your customers’ data!“

How easy is it to get started and gain access to this insight?

“Sending data to Abacus is easy. Whether or not it’s in a single customer view, we can give you a deduplicated snapshot of your customer data which you can then use to help you make decisions on customer targeting and direct marketing campaigns. There are no development costs and the data we receive and send back to you is only ever via secure, encrypted .sftp”

To find out more about free membership of the Abacus Alliance, please contact Ben Collier on 020 8943 8011 or ben.collier@epsilon.com.

To find out more about how Leapfrogg can use your transactional data as part of a wider customer led marketing strategy please contact Ben Potter on 01273 322830 or ben.potter@leapfrogg.co.uk

The Weekly Shop (16th – 20th June)

Welcome to a new edition of The Weekly Shop. This week we take a look at how you can reduce online returns, beacon technology in London’s Regent Street, Instagram adverts and how digital has changed the buyers journey.

How fashion ecommerce retailers can reduce online returns

Returns are inevitable when you run an online business, especially in the fashion sector, and finding ways to help your consumers find the right size product can really help to reduce your return rate. Our first article this week looks at fashion etailers who are reducing the amount of returns they receive using various on-site tactics.

12 excellent ways to present ecommerce shipping information

Its been well documented that the number one cause of checkout abandonment is unacceptable delivery costs. Therefore, it’s important to ensure shipping costs and options are made completely transparent as early as possible in the customer journey to prevent delivery surprises and abandoned carts. Our next article presents 12 excellent ways that ecommerce stores are successfully presenting their shipping information.

14 inspiring mobile ecommerce websites

The importance of responsive or adaptive design for any site has long passed the point where the value of it can be argued, especially now Google are ranking mobile friendly sites higher than those that aren’t. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your mobile website, then check out this article from Econsultancy which features examples of ecommerce sites who are providing exceptional mobile experiences.

Regent Street rolls out beacon technology to build shopper profiles

Earlier in the week, The Crown Estate who own London’s Regent Street announced that they were rolling out beacon technology and an app to shoppers. The app provides shoppers with information about new products, upcoming events and exclusive offers and will build a profile for each shopper so the content can be tailored to them. The technology is aimed at improving dwell times on the street, and allow shoppers to further explore what the street has to offer, plan their visits and find new brands.

Instagram announces adverts are coming to the UK

Instagram have announced that it will start running adverts in the feeds of British users later this year following a successful trial in the US. The platform is initially limiting who can advertise within their platform, and has strict rules about the imagery brands can use, including no text, no products and filters to ensure that the adverts feel natural in people’s feeds. Advertisers have already reported success from their US campaigns, with Taco Bell reporting a 45% increase in followers during its month long campaign.

Five new realities of the buyer’s journey

This last article from Econsultancy looks at how the buyers journey has changed and evolved due to transformational nature of the digital world. In order to reach today’s buyer, marketers must understand the new realities of this journey which are outlined in this article and align their digital and content strategies accordingly.

Leapfrogg shortlisted for five Online Retail Awards

Finishing off with a bit of Leapfrogg news – we were delighted to discover this week that we had been shortlisted for five Online Retail Awards including Digital Agency of the Year!

Thanks for reading.

10 Google Chrome Extensions guaranteed to improve your life

In the last few years Google’s Chrome browser has become the browser of choice for majority of web users. Simplicity, speed and security have been key to Chrome’s domination.

Firefox paved the way with browser extensions (small programs that add new features to your browser and personalise your browsing experience) however Chrome’s speed, ease of use and sheer number and variety of great extensions has left the slow and cumbersome Firefox somewhat redundant.

Chrome extensions can be a fantastic time saver, whether at work, shopping or at home. Here is some of my favourite time saving, productivity, even life improving extensions that will help to optimise to only your home life but your work life too!

Pocket

I’ll often come across an article or video that I don’t have time to read or watch there and then. That’s where pocket comes in. Using this extension, simply click and add to your ‘pocket’. It automatically syncs to your phone, tablet or computer, so you can view it at any time, even without an internet connection.

InvisibleHand

Shopping extensions are generally limited to voucher and discount plugins. InvisibleHand, however, is a great price comparison tool that ‘discreetly’ notifies you if the product you’re shopping for is available more cheaply from another retailer or travel site. It currently supports over 600 retailers in US, UK and Germany.

Similar Pages

Bored of the same old websites? Need some more inspiration? Discover webpages similar to the page you’re currently browsing with one click of this button.

Google Quick Scroll

Another nice Google extension to Chrome, Quick Scroll, is an extension that helps you find what you are searching for faster. After you click on a Google search result, Quick Scroll may appear on the bottom-right corner of the page, showing you were on the page you’ve landed is the text relevant to your search. Click on it and you’ll jump to that part of the page.

Evernote Web Clipper

Evernote is hugely popular and for good reason. A great place to help remember ideas and organise, projects across all your devices and share with other people. The extension is simply the easiest way to save, mark up and share anything you see online.

AutoScroll 2.3.0

Wrist aching? Hate infinite scrolls on website? Then AutoScroll is for you. Infinite scrolls are becoming more frequent on websites as web designers try and create functionality aimed at the ever increasing mobile and table top devices. This isn’t however always the best for desktop users. That’s where AutoScroll can help, simply select the desired speed on the widget then sit back and watch as 100’s of products scroll before your eyes.

Google Dictionary 

Google’s dictionary extension is simple; it allows you to view definitions of words easily as you browse the web. Just double-click any word on a web page and its definition will appear in a small pop-up bubble. You can also click the speaker icon to hear how to pronounce the word. Better still, you can store a history of the words you’ve looked up, so you can practice them later on your friends and impress your boss too.

IE Tab

Say goodbye to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE). Amazingly, some websites still only work in IE, so use this extension to open IE in a new tab and access those sites that still require you to be using Internet Explorer.

LastPass: Free Password Manager

Few websites have taken advantage of Facebook’s OpenGraph and Google’s Open ID that allows simple login with one account across a multitude of websites and as a result the majority of us have a huge number of passwords to remember. That’s where LastPass, comes in, you’ll only have one password to forget! LastPass saves your passwords and gives you secure access from every computer and mobile device.

Any.do Extension

Key to improving productivity is not forgetting what to do! There are a lot of reminder services out there and I find Any.do to be the simplest and most effective without being too irritating. Already popular on smartphones, the full Any.do functionalities now exist within Chrome and you can turn your Gmail emails into actions. Good day. Every day.

Google chrome now has huge number of fantastic available extensions; these are just a few of our favourites, what are yours?

Ben Adam on Google+

Leapfrogg wins at the European Search Awards!

Earlier this year we wrote about our excitement at being shortlisted at the prestigious European Search Awards. After attending a rather swanky awards ceremony in Reykjavik last Friday, we are delighted to announce that we took home the title of ‘Best use of PR in a search campaign’ for our work with Wedding Rings Direct.

Our commercial director, Ben, and senior social media and content consultant, Alice, both jetted off to Iceland for the awards ceremony, which was in itself a brilliant night. It was great to see how many other UK campaigns were up for awards, including fellow Brighton search agency Propellernet who also took home the award for Best Use of Search in Travel and Leisure.

Leapfrogg wins at The European Search AwardsLeapfrogg wins at The European Search Awards

The competition was fierce, with five agencies and seven campaigns shortlisted in the best use of PR category. The judging panel consisted of search specialists from companies including Experian, Expedia, Search Engine Watch and TravelSuperMarket, so it’s a tremendous achievement to win this award and testament to our brilliant team and the work they carry out for our clients.

We were already very proud of ‘The Bride of The Year’ campaign as it represented tremendous success for our client Wedding Rings Direct, and this award further demonstrates outstanding  public relations integration into a search campaign. You can read more about the award-winning ‘Bride of The Year’ and the results here.

Leapfrogg's European Search Awards Trophy

A massive thank to Don’t Panic Events for a fantastic and fun ceremony, and huge congratulations to all of this year’s winners and nominees. We are already working towards continuing this success at next year’s European Search Awards!

The Weekly Shop (3rd – 7th March)

In the Weekly Shop this week…a possible overhaul of the current business rates system, the changing face of retail, and a study which has revealed a major increase in online shopping.

Business rates ‘not fit for purpose’ as retail goes digital: MP

Good news for independent high street retailers this week as the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BISC) called for a major overhaul of the business rates system. The BISC commented that business rates system is no longer fit for purchase in a multichannel world where retail sales are moving online and rates should be based on turnover rather than property value. We’re interested to see how this develops.

Brands, technology and the changing face of retail

Earlier in the week, The Guardian ran a roundtable discussion for senior retailers to debate the pressing issue of how retailers can offer shoppers a seamless experience as technology transforms shopping habits. The discussion was held under the Chatham House rule which allows comments to be reported without attribution and revealed some interesting insights.

A third of online sales now made via a mobile device, suggests IMRG study

One in three of all UK online sales are now made on a mobile device, according to a new study from the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking (Q4 2013/4). Significantly, online clothing and fashion retailers have a higher mobile commerce penetration rate, with 36% of sales completed via smartphones and tablets in the fourth quarter. More on this study over on Internet Retailing.

The Best and Worst Thing to Ever Happen to SEO

Next up is the first in two articles looking how SEO has changed as a discipline. This first article from Wired looks at how Google encrypting searches and withholding search referral data has been the best and also the worst thing to happen to SEO.

How Fast Is SEO Really Changing? A Look Back At Search Ranking Factors

This last article looks at the Search Ranking Factors studies by well-known SEO Rand Fishkin who has been churning out perceptive SEO insights every two years since 2005. Search Engine Land have put together a summary of highlights from the reports which shows how the findings have changed throughout the eight years which have revealed some interesting trends. Useful if you’re struggling to justify SEO investments.

See you next week!

The Weekly Shop (2nd – 6th December)

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding the traits of online shoppers to drive conversions

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

10 tips for planning your New Year sales customer journey

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

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

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

Three key steps towards a customer focused digital transformation

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

That’s it for this week. Happy reading!