The Weekly Shop (24th – 28th Feb)

In the Weekly Shop this week…how to improve customer experience when items are out of stock and attract registrations without creating a barrier at the checkout, plus the growing importance of online reviews and insights into how the way we’re shopping is changing.

How to improve customer experience when products are out of stock

We probably all know how frustrating it is to find the perfect item online and then later discover that it’s actually out of stock. This article from Econsultancy tackles the out of stock problem online retailers are encountering today and looks at ways you can improve customer experience when items are out of stock to induce the users to make a purchase, either on the same session or in the future.

How to attract registrations without creating a barrier to checkout

Registration has its benefits to both customers and retailers, yet often a forced registration can be perceived as a barrier by customers. This next article looks at how well designed checkouts can reduce customer abandonment while still encouraging people to register with examples of best practice from ASOS, Macy’s and House of Fraser. 

77% of UK shoppers consult reviews before buying online: report

It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that reviews are an important feature of any ecommerce site. Nonetheless, a new survey from Trustpilot has found that three out of four British shoppers (77%) consult online reviews before buying online, showing that clearly reviews are incredibly important for driving conversions. To further highlight the importance of reviews, here’s a roundup of data taken from several other studies which show the impact they have on driving conversions.

Online shoppers move from PC to mobile as they shop more often, but with five or fewer retailers

More research this week has revealed insights into how the way we’re shopping is changing. The study found that fewer shoppers are using their PC to buy online and are turning to smartphones and tablets. Other interesting findings included the statistic that 57% of UK online shoppers buy with five or fewer online retailers. Asked why they shopped at their top three retailers, 85% cited trust, and 79% price. More over on Internet Retailing.

 

That’s it for this week! If you’d like to receive The Weekly Shop by email every Friday, then please do pop your email address in the footer below.

The Weekly Shop (17th – 21st Feb)

In the Weekly Shop this week…three reports yielding some interesting stats around retail spending, poor tablet experience and the state of digital on the high street, plus what Facebook’s latest algorithm updates mean for your brands Facebook page and ways in which search is evolving.

Three quarters of retail spending in UK comes from just 18 per cent of shoppers

A new study from Deloitte has found that nearly three quarters of the money spent shopping in Britain comes from just 18 per cent of consumers. These ‘Super Shoppers’ are increasingly making purchases using their mobile and account for a massive 70 per cent of all UK retail spending which is the equivalent of more than £200billion in 2013.

Audi to Apple: who is using digital on the high street?

A recent report by Eccomplished assessed over 40 leading retailers in the heart of London’s shopping district on their use of digital technology to evaluate how good retailers are at delivering a multichannel shopping experience. Econsultancy have rounded up some specific retailers from the report who are using digital technology successfully to engage customers in-store and also retailers who are doing otherwise.

77% of shoppers say a poor tablet experience could change the way they perceive a brand, study finds

Our final report this week has revealed that more than three quarters of consumers say a dissatisfying shopping experience using a tablet would impact their opinion of a brand. Furthermore, 67 per cent of shoppers stated that it would make them reluctant to recommend the retailer to family and friend highlighting the fact that retailers simply cannot afford to neglect tablets as shopping devices.

6 Ways to Make People Love Your Brand

In order to gain customers and retain them, you’ve got to do more than introduce them to your brand, business, or products – you’ve got to make them fall in love with it. Mashable have produced an insightful infographic telling you just how this can be done.

Websites Need to Become as Personalised as Email

Marketers have become very sophisticated at personalising emails based on their data to ensure their campaigns are as targeted and engaging as possible. Websites, on the other hand have lagged far behind when the tools exist to make websites as targeted as emails. This article from Clickz looks at four ways you can segment and target visitors on your website to provide them with a more personalised experience.

What Facebook’s latest algorithm updates mean for your brands Facebook page

If you manage a Facebook Page for your business, you’ve probably noticed that your content isn’t reaching as many people as it was a few months ago. In this blog post our senior social media and content consultant, Alice, has explored why this has happened and how allocating a small amount to Facebook Advertising can provide a huge benefit to your Facebook page.

Five ways in which search is evolving

This last article from Econsultancy looks at five noteworthy ways in which search is evolving and what digital marketers need to be aware of including mobile, content and user experience signals.

See you next week!

 

Happy Valentines Day!

Last year, I wrote a blog post about some of my favourite Christmas digital marketing campaigns from fashion retailers. With the recent build up to Valentine’s Day, I spotted some really innovative digital marketing campaigns from various brands and I thought I’d once again share a couple of my favourites on the Froggblog…

Not On the High Street #LoveYourStory

Not On The High Street have produced a very cute digital campaign celebrating real and everyday love stories. They asked nine couples to share the story of their relationship on film and these videos are featured on their website and across their social media channels.

Using the hashtag #loveyourstory, the brand has encouraged consumers to also tweet their love stories which have created a real buzz around the campaign. The brand has also created a bespoke webpage for the campaign which also features inspiring gifts, quizzes and other valentine’s day content such as wrapping inspiration, date ideas and quotes from the couples. It draws attention to their products but in subtle way.

Ann Summers #HappyAnnSummersDay

Here’s another rather cheeky guerrilla marketing campaign from lingerie brand, Ann Summers, who must have annoyed their competitors when they projected mischievous messages onto their store fronts.

Shops such as Thorntons and Liberty’s fell victim to Ann Summers and have had messages such as ‘Chocolates are for hospitals’ and ‘Roses belong in the Eighties’ projected onto their shop fronts alongside the slogan ‘Happy Ann Summers Day.’ They’ve also sprayed the messages onto London pavements and encouraged consumers to tweet @Ann_Summers with the hashtag #AnnSummersDay.

Virgin #EverydayValentine

This campaign from Virgin celebrates the idea of an ‘Everyday Valentine,’ which they describe as being anyone from a childhood chum, favourite food or even a pet. They’ve asked consumers to send them a picture via Twitter, Instagram or Vine of their #EverydayValentine with the aim to win prizes such as a dinner for two or customised chocolates. The best responses are also featured on the Virgin website throughout the week.

Evian #ILoveYouLike

Mineral water brand Evian is helping consumers avoid typical Valentine’s Day clichés with its #ILoveYouLike multi-channel campaign which pushes their ‘Live Young’ philosophy.

In the run up to Valentines Day, consumers who tweet @evianwater or @evian_uk using the hashtag #ILoveYouLike will receive a response with an image depicting an alternative Valentine’s message. Fans are then encouraged to share suggestions on how to complete the sentence ‘I love you like’ on Facebook in order to win special Valentine’s Day prizes.

According to Clickz, this campaign has already notched up an impressive 87,000 impressions in the week before the campaign launched and 1.2 million estimated impressions in its first 48 hours as a result of about 200 Twitter messages.

Ted Baker #FollowTedsHeart

I spotted this campaign earlier in the week on Ted Baker’s Facebook page. They’ve created a digital ‘FollowTedsHeart’ Facebook app campaign to increase engagement with their fans and compliment their in store activities.

The app lets users release virtual balloons around the globe in a bid to win a shopping spree and features really lovely visuals of the balloon flying across the world as it’s released. It’s nicely executed but I was pretty disappointed that my balloon only traveled 3557.55 miles to Washington putting me in 4151st place.

Heineken #DateInABox

Last but not least, a campaign aimed at the boys from Heineken. The beer brand has launched a #DateInABox social media campaign which consists of an actual box containing an adventurous, prearranged mystery date ranging from a jujitsu lesson for two to a couples’ tattoo session. To get this date, women can tweet to @Heinken_US and have a box mailed to their partner but he can only unlock it if he embarrasses himself and shares his feelings of love on Instagram with the photo of the box.

Festive fashion online campaigns

After a particularly unsuccessful Christmas shopping trip last weekend, I decided to do the only sensible thing and take matters online.

Obviously, being me, I soon ended up doing a bit of ‘wish list’ shopping for myself on a couple of my favourite sites and I was met with number of different Christmas campaigns and homepages. I thought it was really interesting to see how brands were using their digital platforms to create a memorable online customer experience and engage their customers this festive season. It definitely makes the whole Christmas shopping experience a lot less tedious and any gift ideas and inspiration is always appreciated in my book! Below is a round-up of some of my favourites from this year.

Dear Topshop

Topshop’s homepage has recently been taken over by the launch of ‘Dear Topshop’ – the brands first global and fully-integrated Pinterest Christmas campaign.

‘Dear Topshop’ allows users to pull together Topshop items from across all of the brands platforms. By searching through categories such as ‘A Gift that will wow’ and ‘all things that sparkle’ consumers can pin items and share them on their own boards, while the top pinned products are showcased on Topshop.com’s homepage each day. To add an element of competition, Topshop have also given customers the opportunity to win a Topshop Shopping Spree by submitting their Pinterest boards to them.

Topshop also bought the campaign in-store by producing giant touchscreens in their flagship stores which allow shoppers to interact with the campaign. The campaign is a really nice example of how retailers are using Pinterest’s newly launched API and it really capitalises on the popularity of Pinterest as a place to collect fashion inspirations and ideas.

Whistles Advent Calendar

This is a regular Christmas campaign for Whistles, being their fourth advent calendar, but they’ve proved really popular with Whistles fans and are always very creative.

Every day, Whistles invites users to visit the advent calendar and ‘crack the ice’ by clicking their mouse repeatedly to reveal a different prize, discount or offer. I really liked the addition of interactivity here as it creates a bit of suspense as to what the prize might be. Once the prize has been revealed, users are given the chance to win by providing Whistles with their e-mail address which signs them up to their mailing list. They are also encouraged to tweet and share on Facebook to win.

By taking part in the advent calendar, Whistles are creating a desire to go back to the website each day and users are also able to look back through the previous days at what prizes they missed and also get a sneaky peek of future prizes through the ‘ice.’ It’s a really nice way to showcase Whistles range of stock and encourage repeat custom.

Harvey Nichols #sorryispentitonmyself

I love this tongue-in-cheek viral campaign from Harvey Nichols, which definitely takes an alternative view of Christmas shopping. Through their #imsorryispentitonmyself campaign, Harvey Nichols encourage shoppers to spend as little on their loved ones as possible in favour of indulging themselves. They have also produced a limited range of ultra-low cost Harvey Nichols branded gifts for those who understand that a cheap gift for their nearest and dearest means a bigger gift for themselves. I particularly like the real plastic door stop for £1.43 and authentic Lincolnshire gravel for £1.61 which amazingly sold out within a few days of the campaign launch. Genius!

Burberry

The British luxury brand Burberry has launched a festive campaign called ‘Burberry with Love.’ The advert is a culmination of their entire year’s worth of campaigns celebrating love and romance including its Burberry Kisses campaign in collaboration with Google.

The campaign is supported by a ‘full festive takeover’ of their social media and they are also celebrating ‘25 days of Christmas’ by publishing images and videos on their Instagram each day.

Mulberry

This is a really nice example of a brand combining its offline and online presence to create a festive campaign. The iconic handbag and fashion brand has taken over five windows at Harrods to tell a branded fairy tale to engage consumers this holiday season. A theme that is likely to tap into consumer’s nostalgia for the childhood fairy stories and to provide a memorable customer experience when shopping for Mulberry gifts.

Online, the Mulberry website has also been transformed into a fairy tale wonderland, and they’ve used the theme to display its gifts, allowing you to ‘Shop the Fairy Story.’ Mulberry also allowed all of its followers to join in its window unveiling by tweeting from the event and sharing photos on its Instagram account and transformed its Twitter profile page to match the snowy fairy tale theme of its campaign.

ASOS

ASOS have been running their #tonightis campaign since September which embraces the idea of ‘living in the moment.’

For Christmas they have teamed up with the @OfficialSanta Twitter account and asked consumers to build their ultimate ASOS wish list and tweet it straight into him with the hashtag #tonightis.

@OfficialSanta has been replying to people’s wishes using personalised Vine’s and handing out on the spot prizes from people’s wish lists. I really like the effort they’ve gone too with creating personalised videos and it definitely created lots of buzz around the campaign.

The Goodhood Store

Probably, one of the lesser known brands on this list but Goodhood Store is definitely one of my favourite online stores to have a browse around. It stocks a wide range of contemporary menswear, women’s wear and homeware and its online shop is an excellent extension of its physical store in Shoreditch.

I’m a big fan of clean, minimalist, colour co-ordinated design and I really do like their beautifully curated gift guides which allow you to click on the items to buy and also share them via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest etc. There are various gift guides on the site including gifts for men, women and home all of which are aesthetically pleasing. I like the way they’ve used their online shop in a similar way to a physical shop by choosing products that really complement each other. The whole experience is really user-friendly and really is a pleasure to shop.

Liberty of London

While this is not exactly an online campaign, I still thought it was worth including because I love the shop and equally loved the documentary.

While many of the big retailers are investing millions in television adverts and campaigns, Liberty of London has opened its doors to Channel 4 to produce a three part documentary that follows their eccentric employees in the run up to Christmas. You can also meet the staff over on their website and they’ve embedded footage of the staff on various department pages on their website. Other retailers must be green with envy as Liberty has managed to wangle approximately 156 hours of free coverage in the busiest shopping month of the year and I don’t doubt that the series will have a huge impact on the footfall to their shop and visits to their website.

So there you have it; just a few of the festive fashion campaigns I’ve seen floating around the internet this Christmas. Which one is your favourite and are there any other good ones that I have missed?

Five (Apprentice contestant-free) Christmas tips

This time last year, I sat on a panel at the ECMOD conference. The theme? Tips for a successful Christmas.

The whole affair was somewhat surreal in that a former Apprentice contestant was pulled in at the last minute to sit on the panel. I am assuming that the good people at ECMOD saw him wondering around and thought “Hey, he was on The Apprentice, he’ll have something useful to share.”

For his sake I won’t mention him by name. However, to say he missed the point of the panel would be an understatement of gigantic proportions. Interspersed between the quick-fire tips from those panellists that had understood the brief, was a series of grandiose ramblings containing just about every cheesy business cliché you are ever likely to hear. Christmas tips they were not.

Slipping away quietly and slightly embarrassed by the whole affair, I had completely forgotten that my well-intentioned tips were left sitting on my iPad. As Christmas is almost upon us, a time when many retailers generate as much as 50% of their annual revenue, I thought I should put the ghost to rest and publish the tips on the Froggblog. No cheesy business speak, I promise.

So, here goes…

1) Paid search

Competition – and therefore click costs, are very likely to increase over the festive period for most retailers. If you are not careful, your cost-per-acquisition will do the same.

Very few retailers have an unlimited media budget. Therefore, making it work harder and smarter over the festive period is critical to driving a positive ROI. With this in mind:

  • Pick your battles – focus on categories and products where you have an advantage over the competition. For example, if you offer the lowest price, free delivery, free returns or a discount on the next order. Ensure these messages are prominent in advert copy.
  • In turn, ensure budgets are allocated to the highest performing products and keywords to avoid wasting budget. This means watching campaign performance like a hawk. The world of retail moves fast. At Christmas it’s even faster. There is no place for setting up a campaign in October and simply leaving it to run.
  • Be prepared to boost your bids whilst demand and competition is at its highest (whilst ensuring that the click cost and cost per acquisition remain within acceptable boundaries).
  • Consider the longer term value of a new customer in your bidding strategy. This allows you to work out how much you are prepared to spend to acquire a new customer. Reflect this in your bidding strategy (more on this below).

2) Look beyond the first sale

Consider the following scenario. I am looking for a particular beauty product that my wife has subtly dropped a hint she would like for Christmas. I do my research and make a purchase through a site I have never bought from before (and am unlikely ever to again).

From the retailer’s point of view they have got the initial sale (win!) but sending me their catalogue or signing me up to their newsletter is a complete waste of time. I’m just not their target audience. In short, people like me, making one-time gifting purchases, offer very little long term value to the retailer.

Therefore, the retailer, making an educated guess that I am purchasing a gift, should be looking at ways they can ‘get to Mrs Potter’ (for want of a better phrase).

At the checkout, you could ask if the item being purchased is a gift. You could ask who it is for. You could ask if the gift recipient would like to receive special offers and promotions in the future (after Christmas of course – you don’t want them to spoil the surprise!)

Alternatively, you could insert a card in the packaging with a promo code to be used in the New Year.

In short, consider how you can build a longer-term relationship with the customer even if that person isn’t the one who actually made the purchase.

3) Offer free returns, even if this is only a temporary change of policy

Research carried out last year by fit.me found that 60% of UK consumers will not even consider making a purchase unless free returns are offered.

A free returns policy at Christmas is even more important to allay any fears that a gift recipient may not like a present or it may not fit, for example.

Whatever you decide to do where returns are concerned, ensure that the policy is prominent on the website and in ad messaging to counter any potential barriers to conversion.4

4) Deliver on your promises

When it comes to delivery for example, most people don’t mind waiting a few days for an item to arrive, as long as it drops through the letterbox when promised by the retailer.

However, when this fails to happen, especially in the week leading up to the big day, customer dissatisfaction will be amplified ten fold. It’s a pretty stressful time of year for many. The last thing someone needs is a mad dash to the shops on Christmas Eve to hunt down a gift they had assumed would arrive days ago.

This is just one example of where you must ensure (as far as is humanly possible) that you can fulfil those promises you shout so proudly about in ad messaging and web copy. Failing to do so means a disgruntled customer who will a) probably not buy from you again and b) moan. Not just to their mates down the pub but across their social media channels, amplifying your failures to hundreds, maybe thousands of people.

5) Review success and failures in January

Finally, ensure you make time to review what worked and what didn’t immediately after Christmas (well, you can at least let the Christmas pudding settle in your belly, but you know what I mean).

Start preparing for next Christmas whilst things are fresh in your mind.

Hurrah! Tips shared without an Apprentice contestant in sight.

Have a very prosperous Christmas one and all.

 

The Weekly Shop (21st – 25th October 2013)

In the Weekly Shop this week we take a closer look at Google’s move towards a more semantic and user-centric approach to SEO. We also look at search data which has highlighted a fast change in the way we shop and some evidence that suggests that Google has started to enforce smartphone penalties. Plus, some more results from the study we featured last week which highlights what promotions shoppers are more likely to respond to.

6 Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO

The last couple of Weekly Shops have been full of developments from Google and it can’t be denied that these changes are all part of their longer term strategy to move people away from tactical SEO behaviour and towards a more strategic approach. This article takes a few steps back and looks at the bigger picture of what impact these changes will have on SEO.

Searcher Personas: A Case for User-Centric SEO

Following on from the above, this article from Search Engine Watch explores how we can put the user-centric concept into practice across your SEO using searcher personas.

The New SEO — It’s About People, Intent, & Meaning

To finish up on the SEO side of things, here’s another nice article from Search Engine Land looking at the psychology of Google to make sense of the rapid shifts in the SEO landscape that we’ve seen recently.

Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges

Here are some nice visuals from content marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik that our search team stumbled upon earlier in the week. The six venn diagrams in this article re-frame a unique facet of the digital opportunity/challenge, and shares how to optimally take advantage of the opportunity/challenge. There is some really good stuff in here laid out in a very digestible way.

Google’s Starting To Enforce Smartphone Penalties: The Evidence

As if we needed any more convincing about the importance of mobile within your digital strategy, we’ve now seen the first evidence that Google has started adjusting search rankings appearing on smartphones based on how well the site in question handled the mobile user experience. More over on Search Marketing Land.

Search data illustrates fast change in the way we shop

And now for some retail news. This article from Internet Retailing look at figures from a study by Google and the British Retail Consortium which has shown that the way UK shoppers look for the items they want to buy is developing fast. In particular the report has shown strong growth for searches on tablets and smartphones and in search volumes from overseas customers looking for British retailers.

Report: Online Shoppers More Likely To Respond To Free Shipping Offers Than Price Discounts

Here are some more findings from the report from Retention Science that we featured last week. According to the study online shoppers are twice as likely to respond to free shipping offers than price discounts. We can completely back this up and have had the same results with a number of our clients – definitely something to bear in mind when preparing promotions for the festive season.

That’s it for this week, happy reading!

The Weekly Shop (14th – 18th October)

In The Weekly Shop this week, four reports that have yielded some interesting stats about the retail sector, data you might have in your secret stash that can be used to improve segmentation and targeting and some interesting articles about ‘Not Provided’ data and the future of SEO in 2014 and beyond.

Getting to know the 1% who generate up to 40% of retail website turnover

Kicking us off this week is the first of four reports around the retail sector. New research from Qubit suggests that just over 1% of a retail website’s users could be responsible for as much as 40% of its revenues. They identified four main categories of website users which is useful for retailers when thinking about where to invest their marketing budget as often tiny segments could be driving a massive percentage of your revenue.

Report: Online Shoppers More Likely To Respond To Free Shipping Offers Than Price Discounts

Next up is a study from Retention Science which exposed that online shoppers are twice as likely to respond to free delivery offers than price discounts. Interestingly, the study also found that emails sent during the afternoons and on Tuesdays and Fridays had the highest conversion rate. Some useful stuff here!

Just 20% of companies have a well-developed customer experience strategy

New research from Econsultancy and CACI has found that based on a global survey of 900 companies 58% have an embryonic customer experience strategy and many organisations are struggling in the key areas needed for an integrated customer experience. We’ve always believed that the customer must be at the heart of your digital and wider retail strategy and have been doing some really interesting work in this area which we look forward to sharing shortly!

Smartphone owners now visit shops less often

This last study highlights how mobile is fast proving itself to be integral in any multichannel strategy. Smartphone owning shoppers are making less frequent visits to stores while at the same time becoming more likely to purchase via mobile and tablet.

Uncovering Your Secret Stash of Marketing Data to Improve Segmentation & Targeting

Here’s an interesting article from Clickz about the data you may have stored away that you could be using for improved segmentation and targeting. You may well be sitting on gold mine of data!

Google Keyword ‘(Not Provided)’: How to Move Forward

This is the first of a couple of interesting SEO articles we’ve stumbled upon this week which reflect on Google’s recent switch to secure search. This article from Clickz looks at how the changes have made performance reporting less accurate and how you can dive into a new approach to SEO reporting using the metrics still available in conjunction with some new KPIs. While these new metrics aren’t as accurate as keyword level data, they do provide a solid alternative to understanding SEO performance.

Not Provided’ World Just the Beginning of a Marketer’s Challenge

An article that looks beyond Google’s shift to ‘Not Provided’ data and how this may just be the first in a series of seismic shifts in search marketing as the ‘web cookie’ days also appear to be numbered.

Eating My (Key)Words: Changing The Way We Think About SEO

Jenny Halasz’s shares her thoughts on the future of SEO over on Search Engine land, which in her opinion is a future not based on keywords, but rather on how those “keywords” form a relationship to an entity, a concept, or a target. Another interesting read.

3 SEO Success Factors for 2014

To finish us off this week, an article that looks at three factors we need to consider for successful SEO as online marketers in 2014.

Happy reading!

The Weekly Shop (16th – 20th Sept)

The Weekly Shop is back with our round up of the latest news, articles and advice from the digital marketing and online retail realms. This week, ‘showrooming’, a new generation of ‘visual shoppers’ and some SEO myth-busting, as well as a tool that allows you to search every tweet ever published!

Can web technology help save the high street?

Last week, Bill Grimsey presented his ‘Alternative Future for the High Street’ report to ministers and business leaders in parliament. This article from Econsultancy focuses on how web based technology can help revive the high street and how businesses need to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour. Our Commercial Director, Ben, also wrote about this subject for Econsultancy back in April when the High Street Forum launched.

One in 10 shoppers has bought from a retail website while standing in another retailer’s store: study
Talking of changes in consumer behaviour, one of the major challenges faced by high street retailers is ‘showrooming’. Mobile technology means that consumers are actively checking competitor prices and reading reviews whilst in store. This study reveals that one in 10 shoppers have actually gone on to buy a product via their mobile device…whilst in store.  An article we featured last week looks into the psychology of showrooming and what retailers can do to respond.

Urban Outfitters uses fans’ social pics to sell clothes

Urban Outfitters is utilising user-generated content in a rather interesting way.  Using a social commerce platform called Fanreel, they are pulling in images of their fans wearing Urban Outfitters clobber from Facebook and Instagram. They plan to introduce these images on their product pages in the coming months. That’ll certainly save on models and studio photography!

In all seriousness though, it’s a great idea- who better to model Urban Outfitters clothing than their uber-cool customers (or ‘upscale homeless persons’ as their CEO, Richard Hayne, describes them!).

New generation of visual shoppers reveals that text based search is no longer enough
According to a study by WeSEE, shoppers aged 18 to 34 make up a new ‘visual generation’ for whom images regularly inspire purchases. 40% of under 35s say they have used their mobile device to take a picture of a specific item on the high street to buy once they get home and three-quarters of 18-34 year-olds saying they’d like more visual technologies incorporated into online and mobile shopping.

The study also found that three-quarters (74%) of UK consumers say that traditional text-based keyword queries and ads are inefficient in helping them find the right items online. This may explain why we are finding Google Product Listing Ads (image based) to be performing so strongly, especially in sectors such as fashion.

How Search Engines Work — Really!
The first of two SEO related articles aimed at busting a few myths! Have you ever wondered how a search engine like Google actually works or what the difference is between crawling and indexing?  Understanding how search engines work helps provide some context to the recommendations made by your web developers or SEO partner. This useful article from Search Engine Land explains all.

Three Awful Things That People Actually Think Are True about SEO
More SEO myth busting. Optimising anchor text and the length of time it takes to gain first page rankings are discussed in this article from Search Engine Journal.

Topsy Becomes Definitive Twitter Search Engine
Interested in searching all the tweets that have ever been published? Look no further than Topsy, which has 540 billion tweets in its index!  More over at Search Engine Land.

Until next week, happy reading.

Leapfrogg to host luxury retail roundtable at BrightonSEO

This week sees the return of BrightonSEO, which has fast become one of the most popular and respected natural search conferences in the UK. Their next event on Friday is expecting over 2,000 attendees and draws some of the best speakers in the world of search.

Whilst we always attend the conference and have spoken before, this year we’re getting further involved by hosting a Retail and Luxury roundtable on the Thursday before the conference. The roundtable sessions are hosted by key companies in the sector who facilitate intimate discussion, and learning between key members of unique industry sectors.

Rosie, Lucy, and Tony will be facilitating the session and encouraging luxury retail professionals to share experiences and learn from each other as the luxury retail sector continues to grow and adapt to ever-changing conditions. Areas of discussion will cover:

1)   Market Watch – which brands are trail blazing across multiple channels and how do you keep up with them and assess the success of your competitors online? We will also look at the effect of the strong summer on online sales and the importance of having a thorough understanding of you customers and how they experience your brand at every stage of the buying journey.

2)   Industry best practice – how do you keep on top of best practice in the ever-changing retail industry? How have you been affected by the changes in Google’s Best Practice Guidelines and when does best practice go against your brand guidelines?

3)   Insight and measurement – here we will look at Google Analytics vs. 3rd party measurement tools, how well do you know your customers and how important is this data, and lastly, what KPIs should you be using to measure success and how do you report on success up the business?

4)   Financial planning – we will discuss the UK economy and how budgeting methods have changed in the last few years and also the biggest challenges to budgeting for seasonality across Christmas and sale periods.

5)   Key resources and allocation – this last section will focus on whether digital marketing is best managed in-house or outsourced. How do you ensure in-house teams are as skilled as possible as the market changes and also when working with agencies, is it best to work project by project or for a long term partnership?

As you can see, we have plenty to talk about! There are already some great brands signed up for the session so we’re really looking forward to some lively discussion on the subject of luxury retail. We’ll be writing up the key discussion points of the session so do keep an eye on the Frogblogg for updates and also the Leapfrogg Twitter feed.

 

 

 

What we learnt in 2012 and what we look forward to in 2013

At the end of each year, I encourage the Leapfrogg team to take some time out to review what they have learnt from the events of the last 12 months. It’s an opportunity to take a step back and think about what we have witnessed in digital marketing, retail and the luxury sector, as well as the strategies and tactics we have employed for an ever-growing portfolio of high-end retailers.

So here are a few of our main observations from another eventful year, with comments from members of the Leapfrogg team, along with what we look forward to (hopefully) seeing in 2013.

Panda’s and penguins changed the game…for the better

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates dominated the search landscape in 2012. Scores of websites found their search engine rankings negatively impacted by the updates. The techniques they had been using to unnaturally garner search rankings (or that agencies were adopting on their behalf, such as buying links) were hit hard by Google’s aggressive, and very public, attempts to clean up their search results.

As Ben Adam, Senior Natural Search Consultant, comments ‘it seems that Google has finally found a means of taking action against web spam; the kind of action that most search marketers have been asking for, for years.’

Website Optimisation Manager, Suzanne Taylor adds, ‘The search engines have got wiser and duly penalised sites that have been chasing rankings with ‘black hat’ tactics. For some businesses, this re-education has cost them time and money, however businesses that have focused, first and foremost, on creating a good experience for their customers have benefitted.’

These updates have had a significant (and in our view, positive) impact on the discipline of natural search (SEO). As Senior Content and Social Media Consultant, Emma-Jane comments, the updates place greater emphasis and reward on traditional content based and PR-style marketing, making quick-win techniques, such as sharing keyword stuffed articles and mass-submitting to thousands of low quality directories, riskier than ever before. A PR-led approach to building a holistic and sustainable link profile has seen a welcome move towards creating editorially-led, consumer facing content. This not only benefits search, but becomes an important part of the customer journey.’

As natural search is now so closely entwined with other marketing activities, such as content planning and PR, Head of Search, Matt, expects to see search getting greater recognition as a strategic business operation in 2013, commenting ‘successful search engine optimisation requires a sophisticated approach to relationship building meaning companies need to work harder to engage with customers, suppliers, partners, press and commentators. This means that SEO should, for the most forward thinking companies, be at the heart of a business not on the fringes, which can only be a good thing.’

Content marketing is nothing new

What was particularly interesting to witness in 2012, as a result of the Panda update in particular, was the sudden surge in interest for ‘content marketing’ services. I’ve been amazed at the number of agencies suddenly changing tact (and in some cases their straplines) to place content marketing at the core of their offering (as if creating genuinely engaging, useful content has always been their approach to search…when quite frankly, it wasn’t.).

‘Content is king’ they said again…and again…and again…

Content marketing, even in the online world, is not a new discipline. Neither is it one that should be getting any more, or less, attention just because Google has found a way to combat the poor quality content that for so long could be used to manipulate your way to the top of the rankings.

Managing Director, Rosie, comments ‘content is not king. Instead, the customer’ is king. Regardless of the marketing activity, whether on or offline, single or multichannel, you must put the customer at the heart of it. Good customer insight is the rocket fuel for your content and wider retail strategy…and always has been. Nothing has changed other than Google getting better at separating the wheat from the chaff.’

In 2013, we hope to see the (somewhat artificially inflated) industry furore around content marketing calm down. We’ll continue to apply a back to basics attitude where content is concerned, namely that strategies are driven by a genuine understanding of the customer, as Senior Content and Social Media Consultant, Emily, explains, ‘delving deeper into our clients’ consumer demographics with detailed customer surveys and audits of each touch point in their retail journey will further develop our customer-orientated focus in 2013, which continues to be at the heart of our approach to content strategy.’

Consumer expectations are moving faster than most retailers can keep up

Driven mainly by technology (the growth in smartphones and tablets, for example), there have been significant changes in consumer behaviour in recent years and, in turn, the expectations that consumers have of the retailers they choose to shop with.

As I noted in an Econsultancy article back in November, ‘what is a ‘nice to have’ now will be the expected norm in 2013. As consumers become conditioned to in-store consoles, delivery on their own terms and a more personalised shopping experience (to give just three examples), they will more readily question those retailers not offering the same. In short, consumers won’t put up with average when exceptional becomes the norm.’

As such, we will undoubtedly see more retail casualties in 2013. However, it would be too simplistic to blame economic factors alone for these failing businesses. Instead, there will be some retailers who simply cannot evolve their business models in line with customer expectations and, as such, will disappear from our high streets.

In 2013, the successful retailers will be those who place much greater emphasis on customer insight and ‘big data’ to drive marketing decisions. Gone are the days when retailers can afford to throw money at something on a whim. The customer needs to be at the heart of every decision. As such, we expect to see customer experience become more and more of a focus during 2013 to the extent it occupies board level discussions.

Social media is evolving to become a mind-set, not just a tactic

Alongside Google’s well publicised efforts to clean up their search results, 2012 also saw social media’s influence on search results increase. As Client Services Director, Greg, comments ‘Google+ started to show real signs of traction in 2012 – especially with regards to having an impact on natural search visibility within the search results’.

We still think the jury is out when it comes to the role Google+ plays in meeting wider customer engagement objectives (simply put it hasn’t reached critical mass) but, without question, Google is making a massive push for it to a part of our everyday lives. I just hope consumers, brands and agencies invest in the platform in 2013 because it adds genuine value to their retail strategies, not just because it is a necessary vehicle to improving Google search rankings.

Aside from Google+, in 2012 we saw a definite step change in how clients’ perceive social media and the role it plays at every stage of the customer journey. As Emily notes, ‘across our client portfolio, we’ve seen an increased interest in (and understanding of), the importance of social, both for accessing and expanding their consumer bases, as well as becoming an increasingly important factor in search.’

Greg continues ‘brands have been much more willing to at least ‘have a go’ in social media even if specific objectives and KPIs are unclear at the start.’

Measurement and attribution remains a challenge

Mobile and tablet use exploded during 2012 with Matt commenting ‘adoption of mobile devices was notable last year. Customers of premium brands are more likely to own a smartphone and tablet with some of our clients seeing up to 40% of their website traffic coming from mobile devices.’

As consumers move so freely between channels and devices whilst researching, considering and making their purchase, tracking this journey and attributing revenue to the appropriate channel presented a major challenge in 2012…and it will continue to do so in 2013.

Head of Search, Matt, sees part of the solution in social media. He comments, ‘Social media offers a solution to attribution issues created by multiple devices and cookie deletion. With a billion people on Facebook and other networks such as Twitter and Pinterest growing quickly, people logged in to social media platforms and email services, especially on their mobile devices, could be the solution to the attribution conundrum’.

Watch this space!

Things get better with age

In December, we will be celebrating our tenth birthday. Quite frankly, I don’t know where the years have gone!

One thing I do know is that Leapfrogg is evolving all of the time. Each day, month and year we improve, never satisfied with our approach, processes and knowledge. For me, that is what makes a great agency; the constant desire to be better than you were yesterday.

Therefore, we look forward most to celebrating 10 years in business by continuing to work with some fantastic retail brands, constantly innovating to help them meet their commercial objectives.

Account Manager, Nick, sums this up best; ‘for me, what I’m most looking forward to in 2013 is pushing our fantastic clients to be bold, experimental and ultimately, successful. With the green shoots of an economic recovery beginning to show, 2013 will be the year when forward-thinking and innovative clients can really get the jump of their competitors. I’m looking forward to leading the way with Leapfrogg’s fully integrated approach and setting the standards.’

With that, we’d like to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!