Preparing for the festive season

If you are a retail business then I’m sure plans are well under way for the upcoming festive season. As a smaller, boutique retailer there is often a great deal at stake around this time of year, you have huge competition and it’s hard to compete on heavy discounts and offers especially around days such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day and the high pressure run up to the 25th December.

 

The market is saturated at this time of year but how can you stand out in the crowd? It’s all about the experience!

Consumers are becoming a lot more focused on connecting emotionally with brands that are aligned with their personal values and life choices. So this is how smaller brands can make a real difference around Christmas. It’s not about how much you drop your prices (to a certain extent!) it’s the delivery of your messaging and experience that will bring in the sales.
A recent report by customer journey experts, Yieldify on ‘The Shape Of Peak To Come’ reveals plans and predictions for peak trading season, surveying 400+ US & UK marketers to unlock key insights into the mad frenzy of retail in the run up to Christmas. Some of the most interesting stats and predictions being:

  • Black Friday – the first ‘peak within peak’ – is no longer a one-day event. Only 15% are treating it as such. When it comes to participation, online-only retailers are the most likely to opt out, with 1 in 5 choosing not to take part this year.
  • Pureplay e-commerce retailers are leading the pack when it comes to going against standard peak expectations. As well as opting-out of Black Friday, they were also the most likely to run discounts across longer periods. This seems to have led towards a greater focus on acquiring and retaining customers throughout peak, with website personalization their top-rated method for doing so.
  • For everyone else, email is still the king of marketing strategies. This was cited as a top tactic for promoting peak offers as well as converting visitors into customers. Retailers will need to have a solid lead capture strategy in place long ahead of peak to capitalize fully.

With the above in mind here are some quick tips to get your head above the sand.

Identify your key target audience for this time of year

Delve into previous year’s data and create a new segmentation lists including customers that previously bought in the run up to Christmas as well as your loyal/frequent purchasers. These should be your main focus at this time, they are far more likely to convert having had previous interactions with your brand. Gaining new customers around this time of year isn’t completely absurd but it might be harder to do so due to the saturation of the market.

Personalised content

Now you’ve segmented your data and created new customer lists to target, think about the content strategies that will convert for these audiences. Look at previous campaigns and take inspiration. Your strategy should include content for email campaigns and also the personalised messaging/offers on your website if you have these capabilities. You can also tailor your social media strategies accordingly and use different posts to target different segments.

Target key influencers for these audiences

Although influencer marketing is still under scrutiny by customers and also marketers it is still hugely beneficial to smaller/boutique retailers. It’s these close relationships with influencers that love their brand that makes independent retailers shine and create a loyal following. There is no doubt that influencer’s can directly inform consumer purchasing behaviour. The content and relationships can be very believable, especially if there is a strong connection with the influencer & brand values.

As part of your Christmas social media campaigns, if you have influencers you know well and trust, why not involve them at the ideas stage to curate unique, emotive and believable content that will appeal to your target audience.

Our advice on a low budget would always be to stick with micro-influencers with a following of under 5k. They tend to have a more engaged audience and wont cost the earth to work with.

Ask for feedback/feed forward

We’ve touched upon this before in previous posts but it’s so important to business growth and future success, especially at this busy time of year. After a purchase or interaction create a simple feedback form to gain insightful knowledge on their experience and what they might look for when making future purchases. This is not only useful for making quick tweaks to current campaigns and strategies but also pre planning for the following year. It’s never too early to plan for the next festive season!

We hope that these quick tips will get you thinking about what you can do now if you haven’t already begun preparations. Good luck and let the best man win!

T-minus 92 days.

How to build trust as part of the customer experience

Would YOU buy from someone that you just didn’t trust? One of the foundations of excellent customer experience is trust. Consumers are savvier, more unpredictable and increasingly ethically minded these days especially when it comes to saving the big rock we live on!

 

 

Retail brands that are transparent about their story, supply chain and distribution can use that to build a trusting relationship with customers, gain a loyal following, improve repeat purchase rates and develop brand advocates.
Here are our tips on how to build consumer trust.

Take a stand! And shout about it.

As mentioned above, these days many consumers (but not all!) are more conscious of the impact their lives have on the environment and climate change. Increasingly people are looking for brands that take a stand on sustainability and are able to take a lead on helping to save our planet.
Brands that share their ethos on sustainability and the supply chain of their products will attract these passionate consumers, who are likely to be more vocal about the brands they love to their friends and family.

So, how best can you communicate your brand ethics? It’s simple, use the power of content. One of our client’s, Asquith, is a great example to share. The Asquith site has a dedicated page on ‘Our ethos’ including: ‘Our Mission’, ‘ECO Fabrics’, ‘Our Factory’ & ‘About Us’.

The best aspect about this content is the honesty about their products and the impact this may have on the environment. They’re transparent about the fabric used, how they source it and they explain how using organic bamboo excludes them from contributing to the microbeads issue that synthetic polyester fabrics does, but that using bamboo still has some environmental impact.

Asquith also share information about who makes their products by including content about the factory, alongside a picture of the lovely, happy ladies that make the clothes in Turkey with their Global Organic Textile Standard certification. This is very powerful, words can say a lot but imagery adds so much more, being able to visualise the people that make the clothes helps you to connect on a deeper level with the brand and product.

Many brands tell their story online but only those brand stories that feel honest and transparent truly engage and build strong connections with audiences.

Partnering with trustworthy influencers

Influencer marketing is still on a journey, with recent concerns over the last year regarding the authenticity of partnerships and the enforcement of #ad. There is no doubt that influencer marketing is a winning strategy but it’s crucial to make sure those partnerships are the right ones for your brand and your customers.

One successful approach to influencer marketing is to build trust with the influencer first. A good example of a successful influencer strategy is from watch brand Daniel Wellington’. Their strategy is built on authenticity and gives those working with them a level of autonomy and control over their posts rather than being told what to say and do. This helps the content to remain fresh and varied with an injection of the influencer’s creativity and personality. Below you can see an example of the brand reposting content curated and shared by an influencer.

They also repost user generated content by picking a #DWpicoftheday winner for what seems like every day! This encourages advocates and unknown influencers that are fans of the brand to create their own content in the hope it will be featured on the DW channel.

Customer insight can be hugely beneficial for finding out what types of influencers your customers follow. Sending out customer surveys with questions around interests, values, hobbies and influences, can then adapt the strategy according to the results and identify influencers that will connect with your customers on a personal level. This will not only increase engagement but also customers will be more likely to see this content in their own time, within their own social space which will make the whole experience more authentic.

Ask for opinions

Another fundamental aspect of trust building is giving customers a platform to voice their opinions and have their say. It’s not just about asking for feedback but asking customers for ‘feed – forward’. By involving customers on future decisions not only builds brand advocates but also helps you create a customer centric strategy.

Brands can ask questions about new product lines, loyalty schemes, events, basically anything you’d like to get an opinion on. When people feel like they are being listened to, it’s a basic human instinct to form bonds. So why not start putting your trust in your customer and see what happens!

So, retailers ask yourself these three questions:

1. Are we transparent about our brands ethos, products and distribution?
2. Do we work with influencers that would connect with our customers?
3. Have we asked our customers their opinion in the last 6 months?

If the answer is no, for any of the above, then it’s time to make some changes….

Customer experience needs to be exceptional as standard

Customer experience has been at the forefront of retail marketing for years, but 2019 brings a new shift for all brands. Exceptional customer experience is no longer an optional extra for retailers, it should be a given. Giving your customers a great experience no longer sets you apart from the competition, simply put without out it your business is at risk.

2018 saw some serious fallout with retail giants such a Toys “R” Us, Sears and many others hitting the wall. Looking at why these businesses failed, it wasn’t a lack of demand for their products but consumers opting to buy elsewhere, from businesses they could get a better experience with.

Omnichannel customer experience

With the rise of online shopping many retailers faced the task of breaking down silos, especially between online and in-store, retail and wholesale, but how many have extended this to their customer experience?

Consumer expectations are changing, with greater emphasis on the brand experience. Retailers need to shift their strategy to drive retail as a service, it’s no longer a simple transactional exchange. What will set brands apart in 2019 will be their ability to really connect with their communities and create a seamless personalised experience, regardless of channel.

With so many touchpoints available to consumers, brands need to focus on making that experience feel the same across them all. The current trailblazers leading the customer experience revolution are focusing on far more than the product and the transaction. They are creating engaging experiences, encouraging people to spend time with them, come back frequently and increase their interactions.

This evolution has to be adopted across the entire business. Long gone are the days that retail jobs are what you do while you’re waiting for a proper job. In-store and online teams are ambassadors for the brand and are integral to creating this epic experience for customers. Consumers are seeking experiences rooted in genuine engagement, empathy and emotional intelligence.

Using data to drive authentic experiences

Data to drive sales has been a dominant topic in the industry for years. It’s no secret understanding more about how people shop and buy helps drive sales. Little discussed topic is how to use your data more effectively to create a meaningful experience for your customers, enhance all interactions with customers across all channels and innovate the experiences you give people.

Customer insight should go beyond the ABC1 profiles. Who are your actual customers? Don’t just look at where they live, how old they are or what they buy, ask what they care about, what motivates them, how they view you as a brand and how they view themselves as people. Understanding the people behind the purchase will help create these authentic experiences.

Get personal

The more you know the more personal you can get. Empower your customers through a personalised experience. The daddy of personalisation is of course Amazon, but this hyper personalisation is no longer restricted to the big retail giants. Think beyond simple passive product recommendations, use the data you have to proactively provide consumers with recommendations based on your actionable data.

If you’d like to know more about creating an authentic, engaging experience for your customers across all channels, get in touch.

Do you have your Christmas 2018 Strategy in place?

As we sit in a baking hot office in the middle of another heat wave, we long for cold winter nights, wrapped up by the fire, sipping mulled wine and snuggling under a thick duvet. You might think it’s too soon to start thinking about Christmas 2018, but it’s not, especially if you’re in retail. If you haven’t already it’s time to get your festive hat on………. or maybe a nice cool straw hat for the time being.

 

So what can the marketing teams be planning now, here are some tips to start future proofing your success for A/W 18:

Get your trend on

Look at the fashion, interior and Christmas trends predicted for Autumn/Winter 2018. Start pre-categorising your A/W product range into these trends. Re-write product & page copy ready to upload to dedicated pages, when the time comes, to maximise on natural search results.

Experiment with some of your paid search spend – what trend related search terms could you appropriately target to pull further traffic into your product pages?

Ensure your social team are incorporating relevant trend hashtags into their posts about your products, you could inspire engagement from a new audience if you’re visible.

Include nods to the trends that sit best with your products with any seasonal photography, to ensure your imagery stays fresh and ahead of the curve

Try product placement or developing a relationship with key influencers within each trend niche – featuring in their marketing and media not only positions you well within a trend, but is worth PR riches.

The top fashion trends as cited at Paris Fashion Week in March are:

1. Head to toe animal print
2. Leather dresses
3. Cape crusaders
4. Silver, holographic and Sci-Fi
5. Tweed
6. The 70’s – think shearling & crochet
7. Pleats
8. Silk
9. Obvious logo/brand placement
10. Layering coats

Interior design colour trends are:

Colour trends

1. Navy Blue
2. Autumn Maple
3. Neutral Gray
4. Toast
5. Scarlet Red
6. Tawny Port
7. Golden Lime
8. Shaded Spruce
9. Light Blue

Christmas 2018 trends as shown at Christmas World are:

Vivid heritage
A mixture of traditional handicraft skills from different cultures combined with strong colours similar to Golden Lime, Scarlet Red and Shaded Spruce. Think embroidered patterns inspired by folklore and ethnic tradition.

Eclectic Gathering
This trend includes reflective, shiny and sparkling materials such as crystal, foil, mirrored glass and mother of pearl incorporated with lively details, over the top shapes and patterns. Colour palette combines pink, lemon, mandarin, azure, rosé, black and gold.

Balanced Sobriety
A mixture of matt brass, light coloured wood and shiny black surfaces with a Japanese influence. Colours range from pure white to rose gold, a shiny but cool grey, a deep red and black.

Splendid History
Think historical treasures. Lace, feathers, semi-precious stones, pearls and marble combined with dark, saturated colours with accents of aquamarine and gold.

Plan ahead for big shopping days

Don’t get stung by Black Friday or Cyber Monday but embrace them and create a plan that works with your business. Also look back at last year’s data and see what your best shopping days were and use them as additional opportunities.

You don’t have to discount all your products to keep your head above the water but create exciting deals for your existing customer base, that could also entice new customers. This could include exclusive offers and enhanced loyalty offers.

Think cleverly around your content strategy on all your platforms. Create a content plan specifically for the run up to and including big shopping days which includes engaging content in partnership with key influencers.

For smaller brands, Black Friday or Cyber Monday can actually be an opportunity to catch the eyes of new customers. Yes they’re hunting for the best deal but remember they are also looking for a great experience so make sure that you have all your ducks in a row and the experience from pre purchase through to post purchase is seamless. A great returns policy goes a long way!

Not forgetting the importance of resource. Ensure you have enough staff clued up and your website and team can handle the high volume of customers and sales. Your customer service team need to be super charged and understand all the many things that could go wrong so they are fully prepared to diffuse any situation that might arise.

Connect with your customer

Get the customer involved by sending out a small survey to see what they want around Christmas, exclusive offers? Exclusive content? Tips and how to guides etc. This sort of priceless insight can help to shape your content plan as well as boosting your customer engagement by making an emotional connection.

Christmas can be a joyful experience for most but also very stressful for those that have big families entertaining large groups or those that just dislike Christmas! Think about how you can alleviate some of that stress for your customers. Try and tap into your customers’ needs and help solve their stressful shopping problems. This sort of insight can be gained by using the survey. Content can then be created around the specific pain points and drip fed across all your channels in the run up to Christmas.

If you have a physical presence, connect online with offline by offering unique services instore to gain footfall like a free gift wrapping service, instore product demonstrations or personal shopping services. Try and make the shopping experience as enjoyable as possible as it can become quite the chore.

Listen to your customer

Did you get any bad reviews, feedback or complaints last year? Take a look back at what issues your customers voiced and make sure everything is fixed for 2018. This could be delivery problems, product information, site speed, checkout issues, the list can go on but ensure you have all of them ironed out and content updated so that your customers don’t face any of the same issues.

The key thing to remember is that a retailer’s main focus around Christmas is to inspire customers and take the stress out of the largest shopping event of the year which will lead to more revenue. Try and make it fun and interesting but most of all be prepared!

If you want any help or advice in putting together your 2018 Christmas marketing strategy give us a shout on [email protected].

3 Christmas marketing tips you still have time to action

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

 

 

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

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

1.Christmas gift curation

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

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

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

3.Don’t forget key seasonal dates

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dedicated Landing Page / Onsite Content

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

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

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

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

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

Brand Paid Search

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

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

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

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

Personalisation of offers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create sense of urgency

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

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

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

Social commerce

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

Optimise your calls to action, for example on Facebook:

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

Facebook Shop:

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

Content Optimisation:

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

Promoted Content:

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

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

Making Christmas 2016 your best ever

We regret to inform you that we can no longer go ahead with the event scheduled on 19th October due to the RMT rail strikes. We hope to host another event soon, so please watch this space. Instead we shall be creating a series of blog posts aimed at giving top tips to independent retailers on how they can boost the festive trading period and make 2016 the best year ever!

 

The Leapfrogg team are continuing our crusade to help boutique and independent retailers learn the lessons of larger retailers and compete successfully online.

Christmas is an extremely important time of the year for all retailers so we are launching the first in a series of events for independent retailers to help you maximise your online results this festive season.

A three hour event to inspire, motivate and give you the tools to make this Christmas trading period – your best ever
19th October 2016
4.30 – 8.00pm The Froggbox, Central Brighton

The first part of the event will be an interactive workshop covering the following:

  • Learn from retailers who have been there and done it at Christmas. What worked, what didn’t. What they will be doing this year.
  • Delivering immediate, quick revenue wins. Turning the dial up on the activity you are doing already to boost ROI.
  • Increasing sales throughout the Christmas trading period. Promotional tips, navigating the big sales days, delivering the right customer experience.
  • Using the Christmas rush to build a database for customer engagement into 2017. Use a successful period of customer acquisition to boost sales for the rest of the year.
  • Networking with retailers facing the same challenges as you

After our interactive workshop on how to make the most of your Christmas sales, enjoy a glass of pre-festive bubbles while meeting the most influential bloggers in the South East who are keen to promote your products this season.

Our blogger showcase enables you to display either incoming Christmas stock, or existing ranges in an informal, relaxed setting with local, high profile bloggers looking for seasonal, gift guides and product review content.

£49.50 + VAT per retailer for workshop and blogger showcase space
The fee admits 2 attendees from each retailer

Go to www.leapfroggchristmasevent.eventbrite.co.uk to book your place now!

The rise of personalisation in online marketing

For several years now, personalisation has been heralded as the next big thing for marketers. A report from Forrester predicted that companies who fully invest in modern personalisation will outsell their competitors by 20%. But most brands are still working out how to get there – and it’s a complex journey. Effective personalisation requires a thorough approach to data, from collection to implementation, to create a complete picture of the customer, and knowing how to use that to provide them with real value – without freaking them out.

So what exactly is personalisation? Gone are the days when you could simply rely on placeholder text to do the job for you – “Dear [NAME]” at the start of an email will no longer cut it. Personalisation, at its heart, means a thorough understanding of a customer’s individual needs and behaviours, and meeting those needs in a way that suits them. It’s the content they need, at the time they need it, delivered where and how they want it.

There appears to be something of a disconnect in this area: 91% of marketers say they’re prioritising personalisation, but only 31% of consumers see a consistent personalised experience from brands. What’s going wrong? For starters, marketers are falling into the trap of segmenting consumers into broad categories using basic demographics. This can backfire pretty badly – I had an email a few years ago from Fluid London with the subject header claiming it was for “Men Only” because it was about sport. I tweeted them to query it and they told me I couldn’t take a joke. Needless to say, I unsubscribed immediately and haven’t been back to their website since – and I still remember it, and am still telling people about my negative experience. If they had been analysing my preferences properly, they would have seen I was a huge rugby fan and avoided the whole sorry mess. I’m not alone in being upset by this kind of behaviour – 81% of consumers say a negative personalisation experience impacts their perception of the brand.

Throw out your old notion of demographics – they won’t help you. We’ve always known not all women were the same, and that not all 30 year-olds were the same, but for a long time we had no choice but to play the numbers and make big assumptions: more men like watching sport than women, we’ll target our sports issue at men. Now, though, we have access to so much more data about our customers that we can segment our audience by psychographics – their interests and behaviours, the things that really matter to them; things that can unite a 60-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy. (Like my mother-in-law and my nephew uniting over their shared love of Bruce Springsteen. No, I can’t explain it either.)

The second issue holding marketers back is not having the right strategy in place for their data – not knowing what to collect, and not knowing what to do with it once they’ve got it. Gathering data can sometimes be too easy; if you didn’t begin with clear objectives, you might end up with so much information it will be hard to work out what you actually need, never mind start to use it. Knowing things about your customers is all very well, but it isn’t useful without real intelligence about the customer’s needs.

We also need to be careful about how we use the information we gather to avoid making customers feel uncomfortable. 77% of UK consumers say it’s really important for them to be in control of their personal data. Demonstrating too deep an understanding of a customer can be concerning – not to mention creepy. No one wants a Minority Report situation where the billboards call out to them by name.

There are certainly hurdles to be overcome, but the rewards are worth the effort. 35% of UK consumers are willing to spend more (up to 20% more, in fact) for personalised products and services. 59% of shoppers who have experienced personalised marketing say it has had a noticeable influence on their purchasing. Taking the time to learn about who your customer is, what they care about and what they need is a vital investment for your business. Furthermore, if you have a full understanding of your customer as an individual, you can tailor their experience with your brand, on any channel, to suit them. And then, you’ve nailed it.

 

Leapfrogg’s MD, Rosie Freshwater, will be speaking about how to deliver a perfect personalised customer experience using data and insight in this years’ SheerB2B Ecommerce Conference.

Which health & beauty brands are delivering a personalised experience?

It’s clear the modern shopper is increasingly seeking a personalised experience from brands and retailers. As consumers, we have come to expect retailers to fully understand what we want, when we want it and how we want to buy it and to use this information to engage and interact with us in a seamless and unobtrusive way.

According to Drapers 2016 Personalisation Report, 92% of retail executives say consumers are increasingly demanding a personalised approach to shopping online and in-store and a recent survey to our Premium Panel back this up further and found that 53% of consumers feel it is important that brands offer them a personalised shopping experience.

With personalisation so key, we wanted to investigate levels of personalisation retailers deliver during and after purchase across relevant digital touchpoints.

We’ve started by analysing the health & beauty sector which offers ample opportunities for personalisation given every customer will be interested in different products based on their age, skin type and concerns, hair type and brand preference. In addition, a Google Digital Beauty Study found that 43% of online shoppers go to five or more beauty websites before making a decision, and ultimately, one in four beauty shoppers make purchases online. Therefore, providing an exceptional experience is vital to these beauty brands.

We analysed 10 of the UK’s leading online health & beauty retailers over the period of one month and looked at the data they collected about their customers and how they used it to offer a personalised experience across all digital touchpoints. We analysed the following retailers:

  1. Feel Unique
  2. SpaceNK
  3. Look Fantastic
  4. Cult Beauty
  5. Beauty Bay
  6. Escentual
  7. Blow Ltd
  8. Beauty Expert
  9. Urban Retreat Beautique
  10. Bath & Unwind

Two studies were carried out concurrently by two researchers. One researcher made a purchase for each site at the beginning of the study and one followed exactly the same path through the site but did not make the final purchase.

Each researcher then followed a pre-agreed set of interactions with the retailers over the following 4 weeks and recorded all communications and visuals.

We looked at the following elements of personalisation:

1. Personal data collected pre-purchase (name, gender, age, skin type etc)
2. Personal data collected during purchase
3. Personal data collected post-purchase
4. Personalisation of online communication
5. Personalised packaging communication
6. Trigger emails based on onsite behaviour
7. Personalised retargeting or display ads based on products viewed or purchased
8. Personalised offers during period
9. Personalised content by site behaviour

The results showed that there is currently a real lack of personalisation across the retailers that we analysed. Minimal data and preferences were being collected and we saw little evidence of tailored content or offers with most retailers taking a general approach to communication across multiple channels.

Here are some insights from our analysis:

  • Only 30% of retailers studied collected the gender of their customers when signing up to emails
  • 30% collected hair, skin and beauty preferences from its customers
  • 30% addressed email communications by their first name
  • 20% personalised email communications by purchase
  • 20% sent trigger emails by on-site behaviour
  • 40% showed users personalised retargeting or display ads based on products viewed or purchased
  • 50% gave the user personalised content on site by showing recently viewed or recommended products

The retailers that provided the most personalised experience were Beauty Expert and Look Fantastic. Both websites are owned by The Hut Group who are renowned for their data-driven approach to ecommerce.

Despite not collecting any personal information, bar email addresses, both websites sent emails that were related to the products viewed or purchased and suitable for sensitive skin and also sent special offers related to products viewed.

beauty expert

An example of an email we received from Beauty Expert based on products viewed.

lookfantastic

Look Fantastic ran remarketing ads on Facebook related to the product and brand viewed.

Escentual, Feel Unique and SpaceNK were the only retailers who collected the gender of the user as well as email address when they signed up for emails. The emails which were consequently sent through were all very female-focused. Collecting the gender and age of your customers is a great way to start personalising their experience as men will most probably have very different needs to women.

Gender email

Escentual collected their customers’ gender when signing up for emails.

cult beauty

Beauty preferences were collected by Cult Beauty but we couldn’t see any indication of how this data was being used.

From our study, we were surprised to see how little data the retailers were collecting from their customers and potential customers. We recommend these retailers try and collect at least gender and date of birth as well as email addresses as a starting point to help them communicate more effectively with their customers. The main elements of personalisation we spotted were very product focused and we would have liked to have seen evidence of more personalised content relating to customer preferences.

Our MD, Rosie Freshwater, says “With such a wide scope for personalising the customer experience in the health and beauty sector, whether that be by product, age, gender, or skin type, it is disappointing how little seems to be happening even amongst the larger players.

Retailers are missing out on the potential for upsell and repeat business by failing to show through content how much they recognise and understand their customers.”

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.