The Insight Edit: Email habits of the modern consumer part 2

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.

Mobile has grown significantly in recent years, and with that, the reliance on email has become a significant driver of revenue. For that reason, this month we wanted to ask our Premium Panel how they view and engage with email marketing from brands and retailers.

In last week’s Insight Edit we looked at what devices and time of day our Premium Panel prefer to receive emails from retailers. Following on from this, we wanted to understand how often our panel would like to receive emails from their favourite brands.

First, we asked our panel to select the frequencies they would prefer to receive an email from their favourite retailers.

The most popular frequency for email was once a week with 33% of respondents selecting this option. However, 17% of consumers expressed that they wanted to receive emails more than once a week.

These figures show that across age and gender there is no specific pattern to preferred frequency. This means that retailers should decide on the frequency of their emails based on the engaging content and offers they can provide, the seasonality and turnover of the product range and, of course, asking those who sign up for emails what their preferences are.

Then, of course, retailers must constantly test, learn and refine based on how their customers are engaging with and responding to the emails they are sent.

The Insight Edit – Email habits of the modern consumer

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.

Mobile has grown significantly in recent years, and with that, the reliance on email has become a significant driver of revenue. For that reason, this month we wanted to ask our Premium Panel how they view and engage with email marketing from brands and retailers.

Firstly, we asked them what time of day they were most likely to open and read emails from their favourite brands and 75% of our respondents stated that after dinner and early morning were their preferred time.

The next most popular time was the mid-morning break or at lunchtimes. 45% of our panel said they liked to read emails during their morning commute and we found that the age and gender of our panelists didn’t affect the number of people who selected the commute as their preferred time.

During the weekends, there was a more even spread of times that people were most likely to check their email.  Breakfast and mid-morning were the most popular times for over 75% of our respondents.

We then looked at the devices that were most likely to be used at the times which were most popular. Not surprisingly mobile was the device of choice during in the morning and during the commute with 84% of respondents likely to use their mobile to check email at these times.

During the lunch break, there was a more even split between reading emails on mobile and desktop, but in the evenings tablet and desktop computers were far more prevalent with 83% of respondents using them to read marketing emails at that time.

At the weekends, apart from breakfast time, desktops were the most popular platform to view email throughout the day with tablets coming a close second.

Email Premium Panel stats

What these statistics show us is that one customer may use multiple devices to view email at different points in the week. It is, therefore, key that retailers have a completely responsive email template that adapts seamlessly to the device it is opened on.

Those who are able to gain similar data from their own customer base should look to adapt their email marketing strategy to send more visual or content rich emails during the weekend as they are more likely to be viewed on a desktop computer or tablet.

Understanding your customers’ email habits has never been more important. Don’t rely on the data of previous emails, but also ask your customers what their preferred habits are.

Five digital marketing must-haves for retailers

As consumer expectations continue to rise, there are a wealth of digital marketing tactics that were once a “nice to have” which have fast become “must-haves” in order to win and retain customers.

In this blog post, we have picked out the top five digital marketing must haves that all retailers selling online should have as part of their digital marketing mix.


1. Customer Personas

How can you market effectively to your customers if you don’t have a clear picture of who they actually are? There is a wealth of information that you should know about your customers that I have covered in many previous posts. No matter how much information or data you have about the people who buy from you, your marketing team must use that knowledge to formulate a set of customer personas.

A customer persona is a succinct profile of each type of customer that purchases from you. It should contain demographic information (e.g. age, gender, family, salary, location, education) as well as emotional intelligence such as their personal values, aspirations, shopping behaviours, buying drivers, media consumption, hobbies and lifestyle.

Mapping this information around a visual representation of the customer with a name will allow you to really bring your customers to life. This means you can start to engage with them on an increasingly emotional level, which in turn allows you to create far more engaging and focused marketing tactics. In fact, user personas have been found to make websites 2-5 more effective and easier to use by targeted users.

Customer personas in marketing have been around forever, but we are constantly surprised to find digital marketing teams who don’t have access to this type of insight on their customers, therefore missing a huge opportunity to focus their marketing more effectively. Having this insight is absolutely crucial as engaging content is becoming increasingly important as part of the digital marketing mix.

Customer Personas

2. Segmented email campaigns

Up until recently, a segmented or automated email program was deemed a “nice to have” for many retailers with the complex email strategies left to the larger retailers. Today, with the high level of personalisation expected by consumers, those retailers who are not carrying out any segmentation or personalisation of their emails will be losing a large amount of retained revenue and market share. According to HubSpot, personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.

Make sure you have some form of welcome program for those who are signing up to receive email communication from you. Gather as much information as you can when they register to allow you to tailor your communications to them – even if it is only sending different emails to men and women.

Once the consumer has made a purchase, use the information you have about their purchases to personalise future communication with them. You could send them curated products they might like, inspirational content related to the category they have bought from, or sneak previews of new products within that category. The increase in conversion rates from a tailored email communications are huge, so make sure you are looking at how you can start segmentation as soon as possible.

Here is a great example of targeted email that I received recently from Missguided which led straight to a purchase.


3. A well-structured content plan

It is no longer enough to have different teams or individual people within your business producing content for your customers independently. A brand that delivers engaging content across all digital touchpoints can create a seamless experience for their customers that will aid both acquisition and retention. This cannot be achieved if there is not one central content plan for all teams adhere to.

A well-structured and successful content plan will contain the following:

  • Identified customer personas to engage with
  • A set of natural search terms to be woven into content
  • A central theme of content relevant to the customer and the brand
  • Channel by channel content creation around the central theme
  • Channel by channel content seeding and amplification
  • 3rd party content engagement elements (influencers, bloggers)
  • Week by week delivery and resource planning
  • A full set of financial and activity focussed KPIs

And most importantly – delegate a member of staff to own the plan and ensure everyone delivers their elements on time!

4. Google Shopping

If you sell products online and you do not have a Google Shopping feed or Product Listing Ads, then shame on you! Accordingly to research encompassing large-volume retailers, last year product listing ads drove 56% of non-brand clicks and 30% of overall Google search ad clicks.

Google Shopping results feature at the top of search results and are a key way to drive customers who are searching for particular products straight through to your product pages. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and images are processed 60,000 times faster than text, therefore if consumers process ads before anything else on the search results page, then you could be missing out on a high proportion of clicks if you do not have your products there.

Google Shopping

5. Rich Pins

Rich Pins are a very simple digital marketing tactic you can utilise in order to make the most of the fast growing Pinterest platform. Although product information on Pins has been around for a while now, the amount that retailers can do on this platform to generate commercial results has been growing rapidly in recent months.

By placing a small amount of code on your website means that any product that is pinned can be shown alongside relevant information such as stock availability and price. Pinners may also get notifications when prices drop by more than 10%.

Rich PinsThe increase of product information can lead to a much higher proportion of Pinterest users clicking through and purchasing. A recent study co-sponsored by the platform found that pins actually influence purchasing decisions. Over half the active Pinterest users surveyed said that the site helped them find items to buy. In addition, 32% said they purchased something in-store after viewing content on Pinterest.

Your competitors are probably doing it already! What are you waiting for?

The tactics above are by no means the only “must haves” within digital marketing, but are some of the most common tactics that we come across which are not being implemented by retailers.

Make time today to start just one!

Five mistakes retailers are making in their digital marketing

Working within the premium retail sector means we spend our days making sure our clients are making the most of all the opportunities available to them online. As a result we also see the mistakes and lost opportunities many are making too. We thought it would be useful to share a few of the common mistakes we are currently seeing made by retailers and some tips to help you avoid them!

Marketing decisions made on assumptions about customers not real data

Many retailers (especially premium retailers) have a good idea of who it is that buys their products. This is great if they actually are the people that buy them. Too often we see retailers who are marketing to a type of person that only makes up a very small percentage of their customer base and a majority of their revenue comes from very different people.

Yes, we all want high earning glamourous, beautiful people buying our products, but in reality, many of those who buy premium products are actually normal people that buy nice things because it makes them feel good even if they have to save up for it.

Retailers who don’t understand who is actually buying their products may find they are alienating their true customers by not showing their products in relation to their customers true lifestyle and appearing too out of reach.

We are not recommending that premium or luxury brands dumb down their branding in any way, but by understanding your true customers you can start to target individuals through eCRM and personalised content to further engage with the people who make you money!

Acquisition and retention run by separate teams

With the growing trend towards “customer experience”, retailers are focussing on how they provide a seamless experience at every stage of the buying journey. However, many of the retailers who are starting to join the dots of their customer journey are still operating their marketing teams in silos according to each stage in the buying journey. For example, one team might be focussed on acquiring the right customers by marketing to them and driving them through to conversion and another team then taking on the retention of those customers and in many cases never the twain will meet.

Unless these teams work VERY closely together there can never be a seamless experience for the customer. Content for the customer should be planned along one central theme that appears throughout the buying cycle. Far too often we see acquisition and branding teams creating different types of content that then sits on site or distributed via email. If a customer sees different content at various stages in their buying journey then this can affect engagement and acquiring and retaining the right kind of customer. For example, if a customer is acquired through engagement with inspirational, lifestyle content, but post sale is then sent product or sales focused content only through email, they will lose the affinity they have built with the brand and will feel they are just being sold to and are far less likely to purchase again. Likewise, if they bought through the first time through offer and sales related content they are less likely to respond to inspirational or editorial content later in their lifecycle.

If you currently have separate teams dealing with the same customers at different points in their lifecycle, then ensure you meet regularly and you are all working towards a common set of customer personas and KPIs.

No segmentation of customers

Even if it’s just to split out male vs female, or active vs lapsed – splitting a customer base into smaller chunks can only ever be of value to a retailer. It helps deliver a more targeted message via ECRM, nurture high value customers and stops marketing budget being wasted on people who may not buy from you again.

We still see a large number of retailers who have no segmentation of their customers in place. They are sending the same email to everyone and don’t try and re-engage their lapsed customers.

It doesn’t have to be complex; getting started with any form of segmentation will create a return.

Same content on every channel

We frequently see retailers pushing the same content on all of their marketing channels. This is another wasted opportunity. If a customer has already been on the site and seen a piece of content then being sent the same content via email or seeing it posted on Facebook is going to start getting boring. Not to mention the fact that often different segments of your customer base will use different channels to engage with you.

Yes, have a central theme of content across all channels that epitomises your brand, but tailor it to suit each channel. If customers on Facebook are younger then tweak the content to make it more current, accessible, fun and interactive. If customers on email are higher spenders then make sure content is tailored to them accordingly.

A successful content plan will be focussed on a specific set of customer segments and will be planned channel by channel in relation to which customers interact and engage where, and at what stage of the buying journey they are at.

Not monetising social media

Last and by no means least, we are still seeing many brands active on social media who are missing the opportunity to commercialise them and make more money!

Rich Pins

Rich Pin

Pinterest offers the functionality to set up Rich Pins which allow brands to have up to date pricing and stock availability featured on their pins. We see so many retailers who have failed to implement these, yet by doing so you can reach users who are ready to make a purchase. Our Social Media and Content Consultant, Hannah, has written more about Rich Pins in her blog post here.

Twitter ‘Buy Now’

The ability to purchase through Twitter is only available in the US only at the moment, but brands such as Burberry have adopted the new functionality that allows a customer to click on a “buy” button within their tweets. Something to keep an eye on!

Shoppable video

Just last week, Google launched Shopping Ads for YouTube so retailers can now promote related products alongside their YouTube videos. In addition it allows retailers to assess how the video is being watch and which elements within the video lead to purchases. Clever!

Those who have strong engagement and customer numbers on social channels could be driving additional revenue by adopting any of the above.

So there you have it, a little bit of a rant about where retailers are missing out on revenue and profit. These mistakes may take a little time and resource to sort out but they will immediately start providing return on investment.

The Insight Edit – Engaging elements of email for premium consumers

Here at Leapfrogg, we run a panel consisting of more than 700 premium retail consumers. We engage with them on a regular basis to help us understand their 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.

This week we are focussing on the factors that make emails from brands & retailers the most engaging for our panel.

We asked our panel to pick three reasons why they frequently open emails from brands & retailers and why they enjoy reading them.

Insight Edit

Discounts and offers

With 72% of respondents selecting it as important, emails that offered discounts and offers to the reader came in head and shoulders above all factors.

This reinforces the shopping behaviours that we have seen in recent years – that there has been a shift in buying behaviour and across all sectors of society and consumers have become more price conscious and constantly looking for the best deal or discount.

We drilled our data down further into gender and age group specifics, and found that only 30% of male respondents chose this factor opposed to 6 % of women. This highlighted how women are far more price conscious than men. The highest proportion of those that selected offers (27%) were in the age category 31 – 35. This is generally the age at which disposable income is squeezed the most as consumers have young children, mortgages etc.

Many retailers have struggled with the offer and discount culture and the effect it has on their brand and profit. Therefore to retain a premium and profitable customer base we recommend rather than cutting prices and offering deals on a regular basis, brands should focus more on exclusive offers for loyal customers that provide added value to their purchases.

Timing is everything

The next most important factor in creating engaging emails was related to the timing of them rather than content. 52% of people felt it was important that they were not inundated with emails. Therefore a crucial part of a good email campaign is to test and refine your send times and frequency, particularly within the premium sector.

Again, drilling into gender shows a marked difference with 70% of male respondents selecting it vs. 45% of women.

Curate specific products to suit your customers

Showcasing new and recommended products came a close third and fourth place. This highlights the importance of understanding the buying habits and behaviours of your customer base and being able to curate specific products to suit them.

Apart from product content, providing other types of content was only of medium importance across the board. This does not mean that it isn’t important for retailers not to have this type of content within their emails to engage and inspire, rather that it is a nice to have after getting the basics of product, offer and timing right.

Mobile optimisation

Interestingly, only 4% of our panel believed that mobile optimised were important. This is likely due to a lack of understanding of how the emails they are viewing on their mobile devices have already been mobile optimised to allow for easy reading.

The key takeaways from this week’s edit is that it is crucial to understand the type of customer you are sending your email to as there are large differences in how email is read and received across different genders and age groups. A ‘one size fits all’ email strategy will not provide high engagement rates and conversion and could end up alienating your customers instead of retaining them!

The Weekly Shop (24th – 28th March)

Hello and welcome to The Weekly Shop. In this edition, we look at how you can create engaging packaging experiences, online videos, Pinterest tools, e-mail segmentation case studies and how mobile is fast becoming the dominate channel in search marketing.

The secret to amazing packaging experiences

For any ecommerce company, a shipped package represents one of the most direct touch points to the customer, but it’s also often under-utilised when re-marketing to customers. This article from Econsultancy explores how ecommerce stores can create engaging in-package experiences that bring customers back onto your website or mobile app using examples from the likes of Apple, Birchbox and Bonobos.

96% of consumers find video useful when buying online

A new study from Animoto, an online video creation site, has shown how online video is increasing in importance and effectiveness when it comes to purchase decisions. Their research found that nearly three quarters of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they can watch a video explaining it beforehand. There’s more on the stats over on Econsultancy.

How retailers can make the most of Pinterest tools

With Pinterest users showing more passion than Facebook users do, as its content is shared more often and has a much longer shelf life, it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure Pinterest has a prominent spot on your list of marketing priorities. If you need some inspiration for your Pinterest strategy, then this article from Econsultancy outlines the ways in which retailers can make most of Pinterest tools.

10 case studies that show the power of email segmentation

E-mail marketing still remains one of the most effective channels for driving traffic and conversions but to really reap the benefits, it’s important to personalise your campaigns based on user demographics and behaviours. To show why this tactic is so important, Econsultancy have rounded up 10 case studies from businesses that have improved their traffic or conversions using segmentation.

Mobile To Drive 50 Percent Of Google Paid Search Clicks By End Of 2015 [Study]

Last week, Marin Software released its 2014 annual mobile search advertising report. By digging deeper into its own data on mobile ad performance for Google, Marin has predicted that mobile devices will account for 50 per cent of all paid search clicks globally by December 2015. Although based on U.S data, this study highlights how mobile is fast becoming the dominate channel in search marketing as shoppers increasingly research products online.

Thanks for reading.

10 tips for planning your New Year sales customer journey

In the build up to Christmas many retailers will be focusing on getting as many sales as possible and providing the best possible experience for their customers before the big day. Once Christmas is over and we move into the sales period, many retailers rely on just the price cuts to gain revenue and consequently place the customer experience at the bottom of priorities.

But how many retailers really understand how many of their customers buy at full price in the run up to Christmas and will purchase again in sale period opposed to their number of one-time sales customers?

If a large proportion of those who buy during sales period are those that buy items at full price during the rest of the year, ensuring they receive the right experience at all times is the key to high retention and loyalty.

On the flip side, those new customers you acquire during sale period could well move on to be full price buyers in the long term if they are given a good experience during their first purchase, no matter what discount they are given.

With this in mind, here are our top 10 tips to using the sales period to increase retention and loyalty as well as revenue by placing the customer at the heart of the buying experience.

1. Segment your database into those customers who have bought items at full price and those that only ever buy from you during the sales period. Set up your Electronic Customer Relationship Management (ECRM) program to send two different sets of emails before and during sale period to those segments.

2. One week before your sale period, send an exclusive ‘sneak peek’ sale email to your full price customers highlighting items featured in the sale that match the items they have bought from you recently. On sale start day send another email to launch the sale and give an exclusive discount to your loyal customers or offer free delivery on all sale items during sale period.

3. On sale launch day send an email to your sale only buyers with no special offer but just highlighting the great savings and deals to be made during the sales period.

4. Send each segment sale reminder emails twice a week throughout the sales period with special offers tailored to previous items they have bought or viewed/added to basket on the site. Switch between product focused and editorial content. Customers still want to engage with the brand when buying in sale as well as getting the discount!

5. Ensure all new customers you win during sales period are welcomed properly and given the best possible delivery and post purchase communication. Make sure you bring them into your ECRM program for future engagement.

6. Select key items from your sale and invite significant bloggers to style the ‘best of the sale’ using them. Feature the content on your site as you go into the sale and include across your website and email campaigns as engaging and inspirational sale content.

7. Ensure that you encourage as many reviews as possible on all items you sell pre-Christmas through post purchase correspondence and on flyers within your packaging. The rise in reviews will help sell products during sale period.

8. Encourage sale buyers to engage on social media and share pictures of their sale purchases. You could perhaps run a competition where those sharing their sale items can win the chance to do a trolley dash in store or online on the last day of sale. Again, feature this content on your site and in editorial emails as inspiration to others.

9. Ensure you maintain your high standards of delivery and packaging for sale items. One bad delivery experience can put a full price buyer off for life.

10. Ensure you keep on top of stock levels and remove all those out of stock items from the site immediately. There really is nothing worse for your customers than seeing a great deal online and not being able to purchase.

Of course, there are many other ways you can keep delivering a tailored experience to your customers. However, these are the areas that will have the most impact on the buying experience during the sales period that will not cost you extra budget when you are slashing margin.

Remember, your customers demand a seamless brand experience at all times from you.
Good luck!

Digital marketing benchmarking report for premium food and drink retailers

Last year, we conducted a survey of premium home and garden retailers, seeking to understand their use of, and attitudes towards digital marketing.

This year, we have looked at the food and drink sector, focusing on retailers selling premium/luxury products online. The basic premise remained the same as the previous home and garden study; to better understand the marketing tactics being employed by retailers, what they felt was working (or not, as the case may be) and plans for 2011.

This research was conducted over a series of one-to-one qualitative interviews.  Out of a target list of 80 companies, a quarter were kind enough to take part in almost 40 hours of discussions.

Top level findings

In summary, we found that a lack of understanding, lack of resource and inaccurate reporting are key factors hampering online success in the premium food and drink sector. The research revealed many companies are seemingly hamstrung by a failure to map digital marketing activity back to their overall business and financial objectives. Indeed, fewer than 20% of respondents know the return on investment (ROI) they are seeing from digital marketing and only a quarter of our interview sample is measuring the lifetime value of a customer.

However, companies are seemingly willing to continue increasing investment in certain activities without setting clear objectives and having the tools in place to measure the impact. Social media, which includes social networking, forums and communities and blogging, is shown to be an activity that many of the respondents do not fully understand and, historically, have been unable to measure results with any degree of accuracy. However, almost half of respondents plan on dedicating greater resource to this activity in 2011.

You can download for full report for free. It also includes a number of key questions (page 6) that we believe premium food and drink retailers need to be asking of themselves if they are to achieve the following:

  • Link digital marketing activity to overall commercial and financial objectives
  • Invest, what is often limited resources (time and money), in the right areas
  • Measure the impact of activity back to the bottom line
  • Keep abreast of the new developments and shifts in consumer behaviour

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the report findings, please get in touch with Ben Potter.

Digital marketing benchmarking report for premium home and garden retailers

Over the course of 2010, Leapfrogg is conducting a series of surveys investigating premium retailers’ use of, and attitudes, towards digital marketing. We are looking at a number of very specific niche markets beginning with home and garden. Further surveys will look at premium fashion, health and beauty, and food and wine.

This first survey was sent to 80 premium home and garden retailers with just over a quarter taking part. Respondents included well recognised high street brands and smaller retailers.

The full report is available to download here. Below we have included some of the key findings:

Use of marketing channels

The top five online marketing channels being ‘heavily’ or ‘partially’ used by premium home and garden retailers are articles and press releases (75%), email marketing (67%), search engine optimisation (67%), paid search (66%) and voucher codes (48%).

Respondents are ‘just getting started’ with social networking (38%), micro-blogging i.e. Twitter (33%), blogging (30%) and involvement in forums and communities (25%).

Interestingly, respondents have ‘no intention of becoming involved’ in the creation of audio (55%) or video content (35%), mobile marketing (33%) and shopping/comparison engines (33%). And although a number of retailers are adopting the use of voucher codes, a further 33% have no intention of using them.

It is suggested that premium home and garden retailers take the time to investigate the opportunities presented by video and mobile in particular. Video and the use of mobile technology to access the Internet, read product reviews and download coupons/vouchers are experiencing significant growth with consumers.

Importance of marketing channels

The top five online channels that are considered most important to the success of the business are search engine optimisation (76%), email marketing (50%), articles and press releases (33%), paid search (30%) and reputation management (25%).

The areas that are felt to be unimportant are voucher codes (33%), social networking (30%), audio (27%), mobile marketing (24%) and shopping and comparison sites (24%).

Understandably, premium brands may feel the use of voucher codes ‘cheapens’ their offering. However, Leapfrogg would consider it a concern that so few companies rate the importance of social networking and mobile marketing, in particular.

Channel rating according to return on investment (ROI)

The key channels that are claimed to deliver return on investment are search engine optimisation (SEO), email marketing, and articles and press releases.

In respect of the other 13 online channels the majority view is that the return on investment is indifferent.  Social networking is perceived to have a very poor return on investment by one quarter of the respondents, suggesting that premium home and garden retailers have not yet implemented appropriate systems to measure their social media marketing efforts with accuracy and in line with business goals.

Channel resource plans

The online activities where resource is being increased in 2010, compared to 2009, are social networking (65%), email marketing (60%), micro-blogging (58%), SEO (57%), activity in forums and communities (43%) and blogging (44%).

Plans to increase resource in social networking is interesting when it is considered that a quarter of respondents perceived social networking to have a very poor return on investment, whilst a lack of internal resource (see later section) was also deemed a significant barrier to the success of social media efforts. It is therefore suggested that premium home and garden retailers need to carefully consider objectives from social media activity, set up appropriate systems to measure performance and ensure adequate levels of in-house resource are dedicated to managing social media effectively.

Multi-channel marketing

Results indicate that respondents combine more traditional online activities, such as SEO, PPC and email when running multi-channel campaigns. Social media and blogging also represent popular channels, yet integrating mobile is very low, despite consumers growing use of smart phone technology to access the Internet.

It is recommended that premium home and garden retailers consider all the ‘touch points’ between brand and consumer and implement multi-channel marketing campaigns that ensure a consistent offering and message is present across all of them.

Management of marketing channels

Marketing is the department responsible for managing all online activities except PR, of which there is either a dedicated department or it is outsourced.  IT is responsible for search engine optimisation (SEO) in just over one third of the retailers who responded, which might suggest it is viewed as a technical discipline as opposed to a marketing activity.

Knowledge of customers

Generally, premium home and garden retailers feel that they need to know more about the behaviour of their customers online. 82% do not know how their customers behave on social networks and 66% do not know what their customers are saying about their brand online.

The latter is a particular point of interest as consumers are increasingly willing, and easily able, to share their thoughts with hundreds, possibly thousands of others through blogs, forums, reviews sites and social networks. In turn, purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by the positive and negative reviews a retailer may receive online. It is therefore suggested respondents investigate the use of buzz monitoring tools to quickly identify the conversations happening around their brand and products.

55% feel informed about their customer’s behaviour on their website suggesting respondents have implemented, and are using analytical tools to good effect. However, 45% appear not to be using tools, such as Google Analytics, to great effect therefore limiting the opportunity to make informed decisions on optimising site performance.

Knowledge of search engine ranking factors

Premium home and garden retailers rate keyword placement (67%), website architecture (57%), Meta tags (55%), the user experience (48%) and external links (43%) as crucial to achieving high search engine rankings. Rich media content and blogging were considered by the majority as important but not crucial to improving search engine rankings.

A quarter of respondents were unsure of the impact on search engine rankings of choice of technology and social media activity. Concerning the latter, it is recommended respondents investigate the relationship between search and social media as these channels cannot, and should not, operate in isolation of one another.

Goal setting

Half of premium home and garden retailers used past performance as a benchmark for setting goals for digital marketing activity along with basing predictions on financial goals.

One third of respondents do not currently set goals for digital marketing activity. It is highly recommended that premium home and garden retailers work to establish objectives using SMART methodology to ensure there is direction and focus for digital marketing activity. In addition, appropriate tools and processes should be put in place to measure goals accurately.

Ability to track goals accurately

Respondents rated their ability to track search engine rankings (57%), online conversions (48%), email marketing performance (47%), behaviour of site visitors (35%) and affiliate marketing (33%) as good.

Areas not being tracked accurately include conversions from social media activity (74%), mobile marketing (73%) and customer lifetime value (71%).

59% do not currently track overall return on investment from digital marketing activity.

This would indicate there is still a great deal of progress to be made in the area of measurement. Retailers should be implementing the appropriate tools and processes to measure the impact of each online channel. Better tracking will not only enable return on investment to be calculated from each channel but also provide invaluable data for forecasting and developing future strategies.

Agency relationships

The split between managing work in-house and the use of external agencies is 50:50 with a slight preference for conducting more of the work in-house but using specialist agencies where needed. Those that use external resources use specialist SEO agencies, full service digital agencies, web designers, affiliate marketing and PR companies.

Premium home and garden retailers rated the ability to deliver results (95%) as the most important factor when working with an agency. Specific knowledge of the customers’ market (76%), and having open lines of communication (67%) also rated particularly highly.

Premium home and garden retailers believe it is ‘crucial’ that an online agency has knowledge of the clients’ target audience (80%), their key performance indicators (73%) and knowledge of the business plan (53%). Yet only 40% believe an agency should have knowledge of the clients’ offline marketing strategy (40%).  This indicates that premium home and garden retailers need to better communicate offline activity with their agencies therefore ensuring a consistent, and properly integrated online/offline marketing strategy.

Barriers to success

The barriers that prevent premium home and garden retailers from maximising their online marketing efforts are lack of internal resource, lack of budget and a lack of understanding.  Board approval and not having an appropriate measurement tool are also cited as significant barriers.

The ‘lack of internal resource’ is of particular interest as a high number of companies choose to manage digital marketing in-house yet do not appear to possess the necessary capacity to do so to maximum effect.

Download the full report here. If you would like to discuss any aspect of the report findings, please get in touch. And remember to keep a look out for future reports covering premium fashion, health and beauty, and food and wine.

Infographic – the online retail wheel of fortune

With ever-increasing competition online and the demand to deliver a multi-channel shopping experience, online retailers have a never ending list of actions they need to take in implementing a successful digital marketing strategy.

Add to that the growing sophistication in how search engines display their results; the introduction of blended search, personalised search, social search and real-time search demand a much more holistic approach to search engine optimisation (SEO); an approach that combines traditional activities, such as keyword selection and link building, with more contemporary tactics in social media and content marketing.

A successful online retail strategy is therefore made up of many parts that are continually growing and repeating throughout the customer buying cycle. This can at times be overwhelming as retailers struggle to find the resource, time and skills to succeed in every necessary area.

Understanding this, we thought we would lend a helping hand to online retailers by creating the infographic to end all infographics; the online retail wheel of fortune. This is a graphical representation of the main elements to be incorporated into your online strategy to maximise success.

And here it is! Now being rather large, and very detailed, you will need to download the pdf version to digest it fully, which you can access by clicking here.

As you will see we have split our graphic into four main sections, representing key stages of the customer buying cycle as follows:

Covering the top line projects and tactics aimed at maximising your online exposure, therefore enabling you to connect with as many prospects as possible, which in turn drives more of the right traffic to your website.

The tools and techniques you can use to ‘talk’ to your audience once you have found them.

How to turn those engaged prospects into customers by optimising the user experience on your site, for example.

The actions you need to take to encourage repeat sales and develop advocates of your brand.

For each key stage of the buying cycle, we have detailed areas of attack, top level projects, specific actions within those  projects and some of the key benefits you will experience. Start with ‘reach’ before working your way out and then around to the next stage.

We realise it is a lot to take in…but this should also highlight just how much is involved in researching, planning and implementing an integrated digital marketing strategy for retailers.

We’d love to hear from you with your comments.