The decline of organic Instagram and Audience Optimisation for Facebook

Here at Leapfrogg, every week we have a meeting to share developments within the world of customer experience, digital and retail. Here are some of the things we discussed this week…

The decline of organic Instagram

This week a study by social analytics company Locowise, concluded that Instagram’s engagement and organic growth is declining. Instagram was one of the most engaging social platforms in 2015, but now it appears it is growing so fast that it’s becoming more difficult to get organic growth on it.

Locowise reviewed 2,500 profiles and found that in terms of follower growth, the numbers were 88.21% lower in December, at 0.23% – than they were in at their peak in April, at 1.95%. Growth on Facebook and Twitter, were 0.14% and 0.09% respectively, during the same time.


Overall, Instagram is still performing better than Facebook and Twitter and Instagram ads are open to everyone through Facebook’s self-serve ad system. The bad news is that it looks like brands will now have to pay for visibility in order to be successful.

Our Social Media and Content Consultant, Hannah Brookes, said “social media advertising is a growing area in digital marketing – one that the platforms are more than willing to encourage. It’s certainly frustrating for retailers to have to pay to reach the audiences they’ve spent time and effort building up. Only time will tell if Instagram will follow the same path as Facebook and actively restrict the organic reach of content posted by businesses. Either way, when social media success comes with an advertising budget attached, it’s so much more important to have a clear strategy for your marketing. By taking the time to understand your customers and the journey they take from first contact to purchase, you’re much more likely to see a healthy return on your investment.”
 

WhatsApp’s allows brands to communicate with customers

Also this week, mobile messaging app, WhatsApp, announced that they are soon going to allow certain businesses to communicate directly with customers on the platform.

According to a company blogpost on the changes, WhatsApp will this year begin testing tools that allow consumers to “communicate with businesses and organisations [customers] want to hear from”. That means no ads and no messaging spam, and it will become more of a notifications service.

WhatsApp has already ruled out introducing third-party ads in its post, stating: “Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no.”

Enabling third-party brands on the platform should provide WhatsApp with a revenue boost without alienating users. We will be interested to see how this pans out and retailers can start using the platform to provide updates to customers and improve their customer service.
 

SEO finally comes to organic Facebook posts

In more social news, Facebook has just announced that Interest Targeting will go and will be replaced by Audience Optimisation.
 
Facebook’s new Audience Optimisation comes in three parts:
 

  • Preferred audience – tags that encourage Facebook show the post to people who might be interested in the tag.
  • Audience restrictions – a bit like the old interest targeting; you can say who might not be interested in the post.
  • Audience insights – want to see how the content actually performed against your tags? This will show you.

 
This means that English language pages, will soon be able to use interest tags within your posts and Facebook will optimise the delivery of those free posts to matching people. You’ll also be able to analysis how successful your interest tagging strategy is and see how different subsets of audiences are engaging with your content.
 

Christmas trading update

JLL’s annual Christmas Trading Update has revealed that over 80% of UK retailers and leisure operators that have disclosed performance figures for the key Christmas trading period have registered positive like for like (LFL) annual growth, with 50% delivering LFL growth in excess of 4% year on year.


Overall, online sales were the clear winner, and retailers that provide customers with an integrated, seamless offer continue to benefit from real competitive advantage. In particular, the growing influence of m-commerce was evident from the trading updates of Jigsaw (mobile sales up +115%), John Lewis (+31%), Very.co.uk (+32%) and Made.com (+122%).

Leapfrogg announces four new client wins

We’ve had a great year here at Leapfrogg, and we’re delighted to end on a high by announcing a whole host of new fantastic new clients.

First up, we’re delighted to have been appointed by Crabtree & Evelyn to improve ROI from their paid search campaigns. Founded more than 40 years ago, Crabtree & Evelyn create luxurious hand, body and fragrance products. They have evolved from a small, family-run business specialising in fine soaps from around the world, to an international company with more than 500 stores worldwide.

Unique and eclectic jewellery brand, Tatty Devine, has appointed us to grow their direct channel, initially via paid search but in time through other digital activity.

Sunuva has also chosen Leapfrogg with similar objectives in mind. They design luxury and stylish swimwear and beachwear for children which is unique in the fact that it’s UV protective and validated by the British Skin Foundation.

Sticking with fashion, we have recently started working with Gina Bacconi as they launch their new ecommerce website. Renowned for their beautiful selection of occasionwear and party dresses, Gina Bacconi offers modern silhouettes that are timeless and effortless. We’ll be covering paid search, natural search, content strategy and online PR.

Our wins come at a time when we are also delighted to welcome Matthew Martin to Leapfrogg as our Paid Search Manager. Matthew joins us with a wealth of retail experience having worked in PPC for outdoor and winter sports clothing retailer Snow+Rock.

We look forward to supporting these fantastic brands in 2016!

What did we learn from Black Friday 2015?

Just over a week ago, the shopping phenomenon which is Black Friday hit the UK. A couple of years ago, this event was only confined to America as a post-Thanksgiving sale event, but it has quickly gained momentum in the UK and become a key date in the retailers calendar. In fact, on Black Friday this year, online sales broke through the £1bn barrier for the first time and over the entirety of Cyber Weekend, a staggering £3.3bn was spent by UK consumers.

With the dust finally settled, we thought we’d look at some of the overall trends we spotted across our clients and the retail sector in general.

Industry insights

Consumers spent more

According to The IBM Watson Trend Hub, this year consumers in the UK spent 50% more online than in 2014. The average basket was a full £7.50 higher at just over £82, making it one of the highest ever posted. If you compare this to an average Friday which is £71, then it’s clear to see the impact of Black Friday and how it has gained traction in the UK.

Shoppers prefer their smartphones

This year, nearly half of all online sales came from mobile devices on Black Friday.  Adobe says that 21% of sales were made via tablet computers, and £242m was spent on mobile devices, up from £217m last year.

This data shows that retailers’ investment in mobile commerce is definitely paying off as consumers are becoming increasingly happy to research and make purchases on their mobile phones. We imagine that many consumers would have done their research prior to Black Friday, and are ready to make purchases on their mobiles first thing or during their commute to work.

Black Friday is an online event

According to figures from the IMRG, online sales broke through the £1bn barrier for a single day for the first time on Black Friday, but high streets and shopping centres failed to entice shoppers despite their heavy promotions.

Black Friday footfall was significantly down on last year, despite more awareness of the event and retailers communicating their discounts well in advance. It appears that horror stories from previous years had an effect on shoppers and the average Brit opted to stay inside, avoid the crowds and shop online.

Consumers still shop in-store for various reasons; namely being the convenience and the experience of shopping as a leisure activity. If this is compromised, then shoppers may well choose to shop online instead. Bricks and mortar stores need to think beyond discounts and focus on the experience they are providing their customers – what can they offer in-store shoppers that you can’t get online?  Being more creative about the shopping experience will help motivate people to leave their screens and head in-store.

Retailers are still unprepared

As shoppers surged online, we saw more website casualties this year. Our friends at Ampersand created a live dashboard to track retailers’ websites and reported that a fifth of ecommerce websites had experienced some downtime by 9am and singled out Boots, Argos and Game as retailers that had experienced disruption.

Argos were forced to give customers a countdown as long as nine minutes before transactions could be completed and their customers took to social media in their droves to voice their complaints. This was highly unfortunate for the retailer since they had been creating hype around their discounts for a week before the event.

Argos website Black Friday

Downtime can cause huge problems for retailers. It stops those all-important sales and can cause long term damage on a brands reputation from customers who expect sites to be fast and reliable at all times. If they are not, they will most certainly head off to a competitor and probably won’t come back. Retailers need to look at their data from this year and ensure that they have the right technology in place for 2016.

As well as their website, retailers need to also ensure they can always deliver on their delivery promises with the increase in sales that Black Friday brings.

You don’t have to discount

This year we saw retailers such as Oasis, Next, Reiss and Asda chose opt out of Black Friday. Over in the U.S, outdoor retailer REI even decided to close their stores on Black Friday and encourage shoppers to enjoy the outdoors as part of a huge campaign to boycott the day. Here in the UK premium fashion retailer Jigsaw didn’t discount to tie in with their pricing manifesto and ended up having their highest ever week at full price. Based on the chaos of previous years, Asda also decided to focus on offering great value products throughout the whole Christmas period rather than focus on one day of discounting to improve the experience for their customers.

Jigsaw's pricing manifesto

Jigsaw’s pricing manifesto

Retailers are divided over whether Black Friday is a good thing seeing as it forces them to lose margin at the most important time of the year. They need to make a commercial decision about whether Black Friday will be a beneficial promotion for their business.

If retailers did discount, their challenge is now to encourage those customers to keep shopping with them at full price throughout 2016.

What have we learnt?

Rosie Freshwater – Managing Director

“Don’t put all of your promotional eggs in one basket. Instead of focusing on high discounts on Black Friday, run seasonal offers from late October and ensure consistent stock levels and efficient delivery throughout the entire season. Use Christmas to acquire new customers with future profit potential, rather than discount shoppers who will only buy once.”

Monika Varzinskaite – Paid Search Consultant

“Prepare your promotions well in advance. Create landing pages, use special site-link extensions (this year Google offered extensions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday only) and set aside a budget specifically for cyber weekend as cost-per-clicks go up, meaning that you would see an increased media spend compared other weekends.”

Alex Oxborough – Social Media and Content Manager

“I share a similar view to Rosie, Black Friday has arrived on the UK retail scene, but it needn’t be just about discounting. The negative press around the day is an opportunity to gain positive publicity for your brand. By stating that you are not taking part in Black Friday and making the reason why about the quality of your customer experience, you can build your brand and win customer loyalty.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot of Habitat's coolest Habitats

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

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

Screenshot of Habitat user generated content

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

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

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

Habitat Instagram

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

You can read more in our furniture engagement report here.

Leapfrogg at SheerLuxe’s Online Shopping Awards

At Leapfrogg, we’re passionate about retailers offering an exceptional shopping experience to their customers and that’s why we’re supporting The SheerLuxe Online Shopping Awards 2015.

The SheerLuxe Online Shopping Awards celebrate online shopping and the brands and boutiques that standout in their categories, covering everything from best online fashion boutique and best beauty destination to best home store and best department store. The shortlisted brands are finalised by an advisory board of retail experts and the winners are voted by SheerLuxe’s readers and the wider public.

The winners  will be announced on at SheerLuxe’s award ceremony on the 11th November at Bafta 195 at Piccadilly in London. Tickets are available here.

Best of luck to all the shortlisted brands!

The winners of Leapfrogg’s Customer Engagement Awards revealed!

It’s with great pleasure that we can announce the winners of our first ever Customer Engagement Awards.

Here at Leapfrogg, we’re huge advocates of engaging content and the crucial role it plays in the customer experience and building valuable customer relationships.

Throughout 2015, we’ve been investigating how successfully premium retailers across different sectors understand their audiences and engaging with them in our series of engagement reports. We have analysed retailers across different sectors and scored their engagement levels across the key social platforms for premium purchases: Twitter, Facebook, Instagam, Pinterest and on-site content.

However, in order to really assess how successfully the brands are creating engagement through content, we wanted to ask the consumers themselves. We created a shortlist of the top five brands from our analysis and throughout September, we opened up voting to our , the wider public and also a panel of retail experts including Rosemary Stockdale from Sterling Marketing, Andrew Mabbutt from Feefo, and ecommerce consultants James Gurd and Simon Hall.

More than 350 people voted in our awards and we’re delighted to announce the following brands have come out on top:

Most engaging online furniture brand

Habitat

Most engaging premium multi-brand fashion retailer

SecretSales

Most engaging online footwear brand

Schuh

Most engaging health & beauty brand

Escentual

Most engaging online womenswear brand

Boden

Most engaging food & drink specialist

Hotel Chocolat

On speaking of the winner, Rosemary Stockdale from Sterling who was part of our Expert Panel of voters said, ‘Hotel Chocolat is very customer focused which is evident in their social channels and the introduction of initiatives such as their Tasting Club. They have moved away from just selling products to selling a lifestyle to and involving the customer through restaurants, cafes and the Hotel in St Lucia amongst the cocoa groves.”

On announcing the winners of the Customer Engagement Awards, Leapfrogg’s Managing Director said, “It’s great to see so many brands putting real thought into the experience they are giving their customers through engaging content. Congratulations to all our winners – we look forward to seeing how all of our finalists continue to put the customers at the heart of their marketing over the Christmas and New Year period.”

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be delving deeper into the reasons why the winning brands are providing their customers with such an engaging shopping experience and exploring why they are leading the way with customer engagement.

Thanks to everyone who voted and well done to all the winners!

Welcoming new members to the Leapfrogg team

This month we’re pleased to welcome two new members to the Leapfrogg team.

Alex Oxborough has joined us as Social Media & Content Manager and will be supporting our clients to develop audience-led, multi-channel content strategies spanning on-site content, social media and online PR.

Alex joins us after working as digital strategist, freelance journalist and publishing manager across many sectors including fashion. She draws on this varied experience of creating and managing content to help our clients develop and define their social media and content strategy.

Outside of Leapfrogg, you’ll find Alex shopping, blogging and travelling. She’s also partial to many hobbies including gardening and no doubt will be a key member of Leapfrogg’s craft club.

Over on client services, we’re pleased to welcome Zoe Reynolds and Tina Lucke to the team who will be ensuring our team continuously deliver brilliant work and provide a great customer experience to our clients.

Zoe joins us after working with FMCG brands and using shopper data to leverage insights for clients including Unilever and Kraft. She’s also worked in email marketing and for a start-up business with client services being the constant theme throughout.

Tina joins us from working client-side in the travel and healthcare sector, so she has first-hand knowledge of the challenges and issues our retail clients face on a day-to-day basis.

Welcome Zoe, Tina and Alex!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download the report button

 

Leapfrogg celebrates Brighton’s digital cluster – one Vine at a time!

As part of the Brighton Digital Festival in September, Wired Sussex invited Brighton & Hove based member companies to take part in their #BtnLivesDigi competition. Our challenge? To create and share innovative and inspirational Vine videos that represent why we love working in Brighton and also why we love working for Leapfrogg in order to win a prize from Wired Sussex and be featured on the We Love Brighton website.

As well as the city wide competition, we decided to run our own internal competition with prizes for the top three vines decided by an external judge. The Leapfrogger’s produced some great Vines and we really enjoyed experimenting further with the platform and getting our creative juices flowing.

Big congratulations go to our Paid Search Intern, Monika, who won 1st place in the Wired Sussex competition by creating the most impressive Vine video.

Here’s her winning entry on why she loves working at Leapfrogg:

 

In addition to winning the city-wide competition, Monika also came first place in the Leapfrogg competition. 2nd place was taken by our Social Media and Content Consultant, Hannah, who created a brilliant stop motion film using the Leapfrogg models from 3Dify.  

 

Our Office & HR Manager, Libby, who took 3rd place for her Vine of Leapfrogg’s summer outing to Crazy Golf earlier in the month:

Do check out some the other fantastic and inspirational Vines that were produced by agencies across Brighton & Hove on the #BtnLivesDigi website here or by searching #BtnLivesDigi on Vine.

Well done to all who took part!

The Hype – Digital innovations at London Fashion Week

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

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

Burberry’s Snapchat story

Burberry on Snapchat

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

Topshop’s Pinterest Palettes

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

House of Holland NFC-enabled wearables

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

Hunter goes live on Periscope


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

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

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

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