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.

Insight Edit: How do premium consumers want to shop in 2016?

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.

Digital retail trends

There are now an increasing number of new technologies available to consumers which aim to enhance their shopping experience. While industry experts are predicting the next wave of digital development, we wanted to understand what our panel thought about the emerging technologies from last year and whether they felt they would be utilising them in 2016.

We asked our panel which of the following digital trends they would be most likely to use if they were available from their favourite retailers in 2016:

  • Virtual changing rooms
  • Mobile payments
  • In-store Wi-Fi
  • The ability to buy direct from social media
  • Wearable digital wallets
  • Personalised content on the websites you visit

Findings

Overall we were surprised by how low the figures were.

The development our panel was most excited about was in-store Wi-Fi. 39% of our panel stated that they would use it this year and this isn’t surprising, given that this technology has been around the longest.

It does show, however, that a large proportion of consumers would feel the benefit from being able to use free Wi-Fi and their mobile devices in-store as part of the shopping experience. This is something that all retailers should now be seriously considering providing to their customers.

 

Premium Panel opinion on personalisation

27.5% of our panel also stated that they would like to receive personalised content on the websites they visit. Although this figure is lower than we expected, it still highlights that people appreciate a personalised shopping experience. There is no reason for retailers to not start doing this as there are plenty of low-cost tools available to retailers that can use customer data to personalise elements of their website experience.

19% of our panel stated they would use virtual changing rooms if they were available. Currently, this can be a complicated process to set up and work effectively, but as the technology develops we expect to see this become more popular with consumers.

Pretty Green virtual fitting room

An an example of Pretty Green’s virtual changing rooms.

 

As we highlighted in a previous Insight Edit, our Panel’s opinion on mobile payments is still lagging behind the technology. We are yet to see the majority overcome their fear of fraud and security for it to become mainstream. Consequently, only 18% of our respondents felt they would use mobile payments in 2016.

This is further underlined by wearable digital wallets being of least interest to our panel. This is still a very new trend and it is unlikely to reach mass interest for a while yet.

Conclusion

All in all, none of the digital technologies gained more than 50% interest from our panel and we feel there is still a long way to go before the modern consumer is fully immersed in digital retail. As these technologies become more widespread, we’re sure their usage will become wider and interest will increase. Of course, by then there will be a wave of brand new technology pushing the boundaries of the retail experience.

 

What did we learn from Black Friday 2015?

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

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

Industry insights

Consumers spent more

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

Shoppers prefer their smartphones

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

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

Black Friday is an online event

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

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

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

Retailers are still unprepared

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

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

Argos website Black Friday

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

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

You don’t have to discount

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

Jigsaw's pricing manifesto

Jigsaw’s pricing manifesto

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

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

What have we learnt?

Rosie Freshwater – Managing Director

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

Monika Varzinskaite – Paid Search Consultant

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

Alex Oxborough – Social Media and Content Manager

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

Five simple tips to get your site in shape for Christmas

Last year, our Website Optimisation Manager, Suze, gave some great conversion rate optimisation tips for maximising online sales at Christmas time. To follow on from her recommendations, I have provided a few more tips to ensure you ride the sleigh of success straight to the North Pole this holiday season.

 

 

Give your page titles and meta descriptions the attention they deserve

Your page titles and meta descriptions are essentially your organic ad copy and are often neglected.  As the volume of searches ramps up towards Christmas, a fraction of an improvement on your click-through rate could mean additional sales or enquiries to help hit those vital targets.

Ensure your listings stand out in the crowded SERPs with well written and thought out page titles and enticing meta descriptions. You can take this a step further by adding mark-up to your page content to add rich snippets such as product stock level, star ratings and price to your results. You can do this using schema.org or to some extent Google Search Console’s Data Highlighter.

Check for ‘page not found’ errors in Google’s Search Console

A link to a ‘page not found’ is a lost link. It can also mean a search engine drops your page from its index and offers visitors a poor user experience. Google Search Console kindly shares ‘page not found’ errors as it finds them. Work to get these cleared up before the Christmas rush.

'Page not found' errors

Page load speed

Spend some time checking how fast your most important pages load. How do they compare to the site average, are they slow? Do they load slowly on mobile devices? Is there anything you can do to speed them up?

All of this information can be found by taking a look in Google Analytics to see how long it is actually taking your pages to load for site visitors.

Page load speed in Google Analytics

Use Google’s Page Insights tool to identify what you can do to speed up your pages. One of the most common issues that slows page load is having large images. Lossless compression of your images is also probably the easiest (if time consuming) thing to work on.

Check mobile usability

Again Google’s Search Console can help you out here; it will point you in the direction of pages with mobile usability issues and provide some detail how to resolve the issue.

Mobile usability

Have a dig around analytics for any other potential site issues

Look at what happened last year. What pages performed well? Which ones didn’t?

Take a look at what pages had high exit and bounce rates last year. Was there a reason for that? Is there anything
you can do to improve these pages, for example, can you help your users better navigate your site with improved signposting on these pages? Is the information the searcher is looking for immediately obvious?

It doesn’t look good to Google if there is a large proportion of searches bouncing straight back to the SERPs from your pages.

Potential site issues

Optimise your images for search

Finally optimise your images, give them friendly names, and set the alt attribute to something that describes the image. People use Google Image search to look for products so you need to make sure yours are there.

 

As you can see, there are a couple of quick wins you can make to your website to ensure that you are maximising your online sales this Christmas.  With only 41 days to go, don’t delay in making these changes. Good luck!

Image via Kaboompics.com.

 

Insight Edit: When are your customers doing their Christmas shopping?

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.

Every year, Christmas messaging, promotions and products seem to appear earlier and earlier and the big stores have been releasing their all important Christmas adverts in early November. Retailers must carefully manage the experience they give their customers throughout the Christmas period to ensure they have the right stock and promotions in place.

We wanted to find out when our panel members were intending to start their Christmas shopping this year to ensure our clients planned their activity accordingly.

Not surprisingly, it turns out that the big stores have released their adverts at exactly the right time with 80% of our consumers having started their shopping before or during November.

Premium Panel survey results

Therefore, retailers need to ensure their Christmas stock and seasonal offers are up and running by early November at the latest. With 40% starting before late September, it could even be prudent to have maximum stock and early offers on the go from early October.

This all may seem like a given, but we have seen the odd retailer leaving their Christmas messaging far too late in the season potentially missing the boat on maximising return during this key period.

Happy shopping / selling!

Marketing personalisation and the buyer journey

Out this week, the John Lewis Retail Report 2015, How We Shop, Live and Look, made for fascinating reading. With 34% of John Lewis sales now online, the brand has declared 2015 the coming of age of the ‘Master shopper’. Meandering down a complex buyer journey towards an eventual purchase (and repurchase), the Master shopper uses the full range of online and offline channels available to get inspired, get information, garner opinions from peers, make a purchase, get it delivered and tell the world about what they think of it. Depending on what they are buying they might move through every channel, or double back, or move directly to purchase, there is no set A+B=C.

This omnichannel path to purchase is a result of technology weaving its way into our everyday lives. There are, of course, buying patterns, but each of us uses technology in our own way. We have come to expect technology and digital channels to be there to answer questions, and provide solutions. A big part of this is social media, which John Lewis have now declared more influential on buying decisions for their customers than celebrities and models on the catwalk, with inspirational Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest product images driving sales.

The thing about social media is that it’s just more personal. We can curate our own information flow into our feeds, and then share with our friends what we think about the information we have invited to be sent to us. This personalisation of experience is bringing brands closer to its customers, and in part replacing the role that seeing items on a model had in inspiring purchases. As John Lewis put it, “From working out, to planning a showstopping wedding, this was the year that customers were their own stylists, interior designers and wedding planners.”

The premium and luxury retail sectors have historically been slow to adopt digital marketing personalisation, with some major fashion brands only this year launching on Instagram. This is gradually changing, with many high profile brands integrating social media and marketing personalisation into their PR and marketing. This year, Burberry blazed a trail by premiering its SS16 collection on Snapchat the night before its catwalk show, but all major fashion brands now live-stream their shows.

At Luxury Interactive 2015 this October, Stacy Huggins, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Tamara Mellon, said, “Data-driven personalization is today’s handwritten note.” This could take the form of targeted mobile adverting campaigns that use geolocation to deliver real-time product information, or more prosaically, the segmentation of data to access insights into the motivations and behaviours of a brand’s customers. Whether its cutting edge campaigns, or solid bottom line drivers, digital channels offer opportunities to provide the kind of enriched experiences that make premium brands stand out from the crowd.

It’s important, though, to remember that all of this marketing personalisation is about people. While geolocation offers brands the chance give real-time product information in a seamless way, it could be seen by some customers as creepy, rather than cool. Fashion etailer Zalando this summer rolled out Zalon, an online personal stylist service, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A team of 150 stylists offer personal telephone consultancies and personal product picks to customers, at once driving sales and building customer profiles through real-life relationship building, not just real-time automation.

Zalon

Marketing personalisation is not just a way of growing sales, it’s the future. As technology more and more becomes part of our everyday lives and buyer behaviour, personalisation will become expected across every channel. How this will look and how brands will translate the power of omnichannel delivery and data driven personalisation remains to be seen, but the opportunities are there.

Personally, I am looking forward to it.

Facebook tests ecommerce by building shops into Pages

Facebook has taken another big leap into ecommerce – a market that is predicted to be worth $350 billion this year. The platform has begun testing shops within Pages, allowing businesses to sell to customers directly. Complete with “buy” buttons, these mini-ecommerce sites allow the entire shopping experience to take place on the social media platform – from product discovery to making a purchase.

Currently, most of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising, and this is driven by the data that users provide. By offering people a seamless online experience – including the ability to buy their favourite products without having to the leave the platform – Facebook further cements itself into people’s online lives.

What is happening to commerce elsewhere on the web?

Facebook isn’t the only online social media platform to explore ecommerce functionality. Both Twitter and Pinterest have introduced shopping experiences of their own, such as Buyable Pins. Instagram (the photo sharing app owned by Facebook) has also enabled “Shop now” calls to action on adverts. Moving away from social into the world of search, even Google wants a piece of the action, recently unveiling its own Buy Button.

One of the main driving forces behind changes in the online retail landscape is mobile. Having a mobile-friendly website was made even more vital when earlier this year, Google announced they would be boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. You can read more about the update on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

However, apps are also a significant part of the online experience on mobile devices. According to research institute Forrester, we spend 80% of our time on mobile apps within the top five apps. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for online retailers to get the attention of customers. Therefore, it makes sense for Facebook to exploit this need by giving businesses space on the platform to sell directly to users.

Important considerations for retailers

This latest project by Facebook is still in its infancy, with less than a hundred test shops said to exist (Facebook won’t release the names of the businesses currently trialling the feature). However, based on what Facebook has done in the past, there are a few things retailers should consider.

The first is how much selling directly to users might cost. Facebook currently doesn’t make money from sales that take place on the platform. However, as we’ve already pointed out, online commerce is worth a lot of money – even more than digital advertising. Facebook won’t want to miss out on a slice of that pie.

Facebook also has a track record for offering something for free then changing their minds later on. Businesses used to be able to communicate with their fans easily in their newsfeeds. When Facebook decided to reduce the organic reach of Pages, businesses had to resort to paid advertising in order to reach the same people.

It is perfectly possible that Facebook will monetise shopfronts on Pages in the future. However, if the trends in mobile usage and social commerce continue, retailers might not have a choice if they want to get their products in front of customers.

Main image via Maria Elena on Flickr.

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.

Missguided-email

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!

The six principles of influence in web design

I recently attended The Neilson UX Week’s Persuasive Web Design Course and was introduced to The Six Principles of Influence from the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini. Katie Sherwin applied the principles to website design and it was really interesting to see how they could be used to improve the usability of your website to make your customers happy and spend more.

Here’s a brief overview:

The Rule of Reciprocation

The Rule of Reciprocation, in its simplest form, is the principle of feeling an obligation to repay someone when they have provided us with something.

A real life example of this in action is the Hare Krishna. They adopted a technique of giving flowers as gifts before asking for a donation. Having received a gift, it subsequently made it much harder for people to refuse a request for a small donation.

How does this rule apply today on the web? Examples include offering free whitepapers and instructional videos. However, companies often get this wrong by requesting something from the user before giving them anything at all.

Don’t ask for too much too early. For example, presenting a user with a ‘sign-up to our email newsletter’ pop up before they have even viewed a page of your website is only going to result in a negative feeling towards your brand.
Avoid asking for personal data before allowing access to content or requiring subscriptions or credit card information for ‘free’ trials.

Start by giving your customers something and ask for as little from them as possible. If you request information later on, your customers are more likely to reciprocate by doing business with the company.

Read more on the Reciprocity Principle in user experience.

The Rule of Consistency

People are driven to be consistent in all areas of life – in what they say and do and their attitudes, opinions, beliefs and values. Once a person makes a decision, takes a stand, or performs an action, they tend to strive to make all future behaviour align to this.

Consistency makes thinking easy, because there’s little thinking needed. If you can get someone to make a commitment, you can trigger the Rule of Consistency and the commitment can be small and seemingly inconsequential.

This can often be seen when consumers stick with brands that they have bought before and trust, even if they are more expensive.

The Rule of Social Proof

The rule of social proof is a fairly straightforward and one we are exposed to a lot on the internet.

Essentially, it’s the act of following others without thinking and can be described as a shortcut for making decisions. If we see others doing something then we often assume that it is the right thing to do. The more people we see doing something, the more likely we perceive it to be correct.

This principle is magnified if the person or people we are following seem similar to us or look like they have similar values, in which case we trust them more.

We see retailers online using this principle in the form of product reviews and trust icons. If you want someone to do something, show others doing it.

reviews

Read more on Social Proof in web design.

The Rule of Liking

The Rule of Liking can best be explained using the example of Tupperware parties. Tupperware struggled to sell in store, but when sold in person by people who knew each other, the products then became a success.

People prefer to say ‘yes’ to people they know and like, with the actual product often taking a backseat in the process.
Organisations and brands, both established and start-ups alike, can benefit from this principle and studies have shown the following to be key factors:

  • Similarity – We like people who we perceive are like us
  • Familiarity – Positive interaction with an organisation or person encourages liking
  • Cooperation – We like people who want to help us
  • Association – We like people who share our values
  • Praise – We like people who compliment us, even if we know it isn’t completely without alternative motive

Simple ways to improve the likability of your website include using photos of real people which can help customers remember that they are talking with a human being which may encourage them to be more polite and tolerant.

Including in depth company history and an ‘about us’ web page can also help a customers feel an emotional connection to a brand and not just see it as another website.

Where other rules such as social proof and scarcity can have an instant impact on a user’s action, liking is much longer term and can encourage customer retention.

More on the Liking Principle in website user experience.

The Rule of Authority

There have been many studies that show how people react to symbols of authority such as titles, clothing and reputation of source and users look for similar trust indicators when reviewing a website.

These symbols of authority that are often enough to gain compliance in real life situations aren’t quite so easy to apply to your website.

To establish your organisation or brand as an authority you must first establish genuine credibility through expertise and trustworthiness. Only then can you gain the benefits from clearly displaying ‘as seen in’, ‘awards’ and ‘accreditations’ on your site.

The Rule of Scarcity

People assign more value to opportunities that are less available. Things that are difficult to attain are perceived as more valuable. An example of this in the real world in retail can be seen with the emergence of Black Friday. A limited number of products at discounted prices can send customers into a frenzy.

People fear loss and studies have shown how losses are twice as painful, as gains are enjoyable.

The Rule of Scarcity can be seen in action on product pages highlighting limited stock, another person viewing that product, a sale ending soon, or through invite only social media and flash sale websites.

2 in stock

Read more on the Principle of Scarcity in UX

In conclusion

When looking at your website and business, review with these rules in mind and where possible look to take advantage of them.

The key to effectively employing any of these rules is user research. If you don’t know your users well enough, it is much more difficult to anticipate what will and won’t work.

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.