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 enquiries@leapfrogg.co.uk.

Onwards and Upwards

And just like that January was over, we’re all eating pancakes and love is in the air!

It’s safe to say that it’s been a bit doom and gloom in the world of retail last month. Looking back at 2017 in a haze as many retailers (but not all!) report a disappointing end to the year.

 

It’s now February so let’s not let all that news bring us down! There’s also a great deal to look forward to as we continue to march into 2018 with arms wide open and prove that retail can overcome the many obstacles it faced in 2017.

Here’s what we’re excited about:

Artificial Intelligence for the marketeer

Proper Sci fi geekery alert! Yes we’re at that point in time, artificial intelligence is now becoming the norm and something retailers are going to have to open their minds to if they want to be competitive.

It’s a bit mind blowing really, there’s now too much data for the human brain to handle on a daily basis which means we’ve needed to bring in the big guns and ask for a little help from the robots.
Using technology such as machine learning and deep learning methods can be hugely beneficial to brands, it’s basically adding brain power to your business that doesn’t sleep.

Machine learning and deep learning methods can assist data analysts to help recommend optimisations to content to improve organic search as well as detecting patterns in real-time to give marketeers an advantage at understanding customers, competitors, or market changes – turning insights into action!

If you want to read more about AI we recommend the following:

“artificial-intelligence-and-machine-learning-what-are-the-opportunities-for-search-marketers”– Search Engine Watch
“innovation-how-can-brands-keep-up-with-unpredictable-audiences” – The Drum

Understanding the customer even MORE

It’s no secret that retailers, especially if they haven’t already, need to get to grips with their customer data to stay ahead of the curve. Many retailers out there still don’t understand their customer’s behavioural patterns, needs and desires and this needs to change.

It’s time to dig deep into the data and updates in Google Analytics are allowing marketer’s to do this on a daily basis. The standard report function now enables more insight into user-level behaviour within sessions, User Explorer has been re-vamped to include lifetime metrics and dimensions for individual users, marketers can create audiences and publish them for analysis within the platform which enables comparison between different audiences over a period of time and finally conversion probability – Google can now identify recent site visitors with the highest probability of a future conversion by analysing historical data and automatically identifying the patterns between variables within sets of high-value customer. We’re in analytics heaven!

#BFF

We read a great article from Econsultancy last month explaining how the ‘working backwards method is key to superior customer experience’. We’ve been thinking this for a long time now and working with our clients to better understand their customer profiles before implementing any kind of digital strategy. Addressing their customers’ needs/desires and problems using the insight provided by the data.

In 2018 brands should be able to predict their customer’s behaviour even before they can, getting to know them inside and out, essentially becoming their #BFF.

GDPR

Ok…this one isn’t as exciting BUT very important and ties in nicely with the necessity of customer data. It’s the talk of the town and we all need to get prepared for 25th May 2018.

The regulation is there to protect EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world. It isn’t new but it’s the latest evolution of regulations on data privacy and protection so if your business is already compliant with the Data Protection Act you should be most of the way there.

We will be dedicating one of our next posts to GDPR, so watch this space……

Let’s not put our heads in the sand after a tricky year, let’s keep them high and rise to the challenges that 2018 will bring.

Remember, the customer is always right!

Using Christmas 2017 trends to grow sales

As well as keeping on top of developments in retail strategy, our many years living and breathing retail has made the Leapfrogg team keen design trend spotters.

Although not always relevant to a consistent or seasonal product strategy, understanding how design and visual trends are developing is important when helping us make recommendations on how to keep merchandising and marketing imagery fresh, how to ensure email marketing is on trend and how your product images stay fresh and engaging on social media.

Rosie is a frequent speaker at Pulse and this year, came back with three main trends that had been spotted at the show:

Bloomsbury Christmas

Rosie’s favourite, Bloomsbury is a festive celebration of the dark interiors trend, rich, dark colours and textures, with big blooming florals. Layering is key to create a luxurious, sumptuous feel.

Rich burgundy, deep plum tones and navy are accentuated with the satin textures of orchid, magnolia petals and pearl.  Think luxe, butter soft leathers, with hints of opulent gold and richly scented candles to create an intimate and luxurious mood.

Decorate table tops with lavish floral arrangements and collections of exotic, metallic trinkets

A brand that brings the Bloomsbury Christmas to life is interiors stylist and designer Anna Hayman, for more inspiration on this trend, follow her on Instagram (her gold leather curtains are our particular fav!).

Nomadic Christmas

Gwen’s favourite, Nomadic Christmas is a combination of this year’s global nomad and scandi themes; the bare woods and simple, clean lines of scandi interiors are softened with rustic finishes, artisanal soft furnishings and oodles of greenery

This trend is embodied by a cool and calm palette of eucalyptus greens, warm greys, navy, charcoal and dark denim blue. Rich browns and pops of dusty pink add an earthy element.

Feature furniture pieces are made from bleached wood, draped in patch work and geometric patterned rugs and heavy rustic fabrics.

For the Christmas table, think heavy linens, crackle glazed artisanal bowls, miss-matching plate settings and wooden serving spoons.

For inspiration on this interiors trend, check out blogger Kate Young on Instagram.

Indulgent Christmas

Lucy’s favourite, the Indulgent Christmas trend explodes with excesses of glitter, tinsel, clashing brights and glitter, plenty of glitter!  High shine metallics and over the top decorations in man-made fibres and plastics, a room decorated in the Indulgent Christmas trend looks like a bomb went off in a party poppers factory and some unicorns tried to put it out with a glitter cannon.

Colours are vibrant and clashing, with Miami inspired colour combinations of turquoise, orange, pinks and lilacs adding lightness to the usual Christmas reds and golds

More is more with this interiors trend, so spray paint objects pink and tie them to the tree and cover everything in rainbow glitters – including yourselves!

Read blogger Sarah Akwisombe’s Christmas styling posts for inspiration on how to bring this trend to life.

We’ve put the following tips together to help you make the most of these trends:

  • Go through your product portfolio and identify any that could sit well into a trend, refresh the product copy if relevant and optimise for any trend related natural searches
  • 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 are 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 bloggers within each trend niche – featuring in their marketing and media not only positions you well within a trend, but is worth PR riches

 

How retailers SHOULD mention the C word (Christmas) right now!

If you’re a regular to our blog you’ll know we preach Christmas planning every year! However with the growing popularity of Black Friday, and savvy shoppers starting their Christmas buying earlier every year planning your Christmas and pre-Christmas strategy now is essential to success.

Building on our recommendations from previous posts:

Tis the season to start planning for Christmas

Christmas in July what you should be doing now

We have even more top tips for you!

What do your customers want?

All good strategies should start with customer insight, ask your customers about their planned shopping behaviour for this year. A simple Survey using a tool like survey monkey can help you unlock data for planning your Christmas marketing strategy.

Will your customers be looking out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals? If so what deals most appeal to them?

Use this to test popularity of your Christmas Gifting products by asking your customers which ones they would be most interested in. Who they might be gifting for and how much they might be looking to spend.

Check in with them on what channels they use when researching there Christmas gifts, are they reading blogs? How important are reviews? What social channels do they focus on?

In a crowded space understanding what is most important to your customers will help you plan your budget and tactics effectively.

Social media

We talked lot in our previous post about getting you content right on social, making sure your potential customers have an exceptional experience with you is also not to be forgotten. With increased traffic, customers and sales making sure your customer service through all channels is impeccable is essential to creating happy customers.

With social media taking an ever more present seat in customer service, and those comments and conversation being available in the public arena up weighting your customer service staff is a must. Whilst that’s not rocket science ensuring you have enough time to train them and get them up to speed with your brand and social media guidelines, get them fluent in all the new product inventory and offers will only make for better customer service and improved sales.

So make sure staff and training is included in your budget.

Mobile first

Again not an unfamiliar message from us on optimising for mobile, with Google planned Mobile First index roll out if it’s not on your list to be looked at it should.

Google assures us it’s some months away but that shouldn’t stop you from getting started now. Here’s a couple of great articles on what mobile first mean and some tips on how to prepare from our friends are search engine land.

 

90 days may seem like a long time but it’ll be here before you know it. For support planning your Christmas strategy do not hesitate to get in touch

Black Friday & Cyber Monday – How to use them strategically to make a positive difference to your business

Christmas 2016 was a bit of a mixed bag for retailers, with the ‘new normal’ trading peaks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday now firmly entrenched in consumer’s minds.  We remember a little last minute panic as retailers hadn’t hit targets early in the Christmas trading season, but overall the on-and offline high street had done well by the time the alka selzer had stopped fizzing and the New Year’s hangover had receded.

The retail industry has been gearing up for this year’s festive season since July, but after a tough year for some, how do you ensure that Christmas 2017 becomes your game changing season?

The biggest question in retailer’s minds at the moment, is Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Now an established feature of the trading calendar, it’s an event in itself – but how should you approach it and is it right for you?

We’ve rounded up the key ways for you to identify the value of this retail event to your business to help you approach and plan for Christmas differently this year.

SCRUTINISE YOUR DATA

We know, you’ve heard this before, but central to your decision to stay on or jump off the Black Friday / Cyber Monday band wagon is a cold hard look at how it affected your overall Q4, and 2017 sales figures.

Did you genuinely make more because of your early discounting, or did you make the same across the period, just at different points?

The customers that you won over this period, have they gone on to become loyal repeat customers, or did they buy at a discount to be never seen again? You have 3 Qs worth of transactional data to crunch to enable you to make a strategic decision to invest time, energy and product to Black Friday / Cyber Monday.

We’ve spoken to many retailers who are going to resist the temptation of black Friday this year, but behind that decision is a very clear understanding of how potentially damaging (or indeed, rewarding) the effort to take part and get the cut through you want, is.

CAN YOU USE BLACK FRIDAY TO IDENTIFY AND TARGET THE GROWTH OF YOUR DATABASE?

It is possible to use Black Friday / Cyber Monday strategically of course.  If from scrutinising your data, you won some customers that did make a positive difference to your business, can you win more look-a-like customers from offering a similar offer than you did last year?

DO YOU HAVE THE TIME AND RESOURCE TO GENUINELY CONNECT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS WELL BEFORE BLACK FRIDAY?

We know you have an email marketing strategy and you probably have a solid content strategy – but can you, hand on heart, expect your customer’s loyalty this Christmas, or do you risk their heads being turned by a different and exciting brand in the melee of Black Friday / Cyber Monday?

Along with the scrutiny of your transactional data – make sure you know how to really engage with your customers to keep them with you during the festive period.  It’s disappointing how many bland marketing messages are seen at Christmas and if you choose to not do Black Friday, then you need a laser focus on your customers and an effective plan to engage, upsell and retain them.

Alternatively, why not just target your existing customers with a Black Friday message?  Focus on rewarding them just before Christmas with an added value message to encourage further loyalty.

Retailers don’t have to be beholden to Black Friday & Cyber Monday to win this festive season, but by taking a step back, identifying its bigger picture value to your business and planning to make the most of it, you can make Black Friday work strategically for you, if indeed, you discover it’s right for you and your business at all.

Customer vs Content – Who is King?

In a world where marketers are being told day in, day out that “Content is King” we have noticed at Leapfrogg that many businesses have taken this mantra too far and are producing content for contents sake.

Our thoughts seem to be shared by many other marketers shown by the number of similar comments in this brilliant SEO Mythbusting piece we have come across this week.

In this article a number of digital marketing experts have commented that too many times they see businesses churning out a huge amount of un-engaging or useful content because they have been told that if you create lots of content, people will link to and visit your site, which will in turn increase rankings on Google.

This just isn’t true. Yes having interesting, useful and optimised content on your site is very important and forms a large foundation of Googles ranking algorithm BUT there is no point in creating that content if it isn’t going to engage with your customers and if no-one is going to know that is it there.

Likewise content isn’t “just” a load of blog posts housed in a particular area on your site. Content is the entire experience you give your customers and potential customers both on and off your website.

As we have been preaching for years (see our guide to “Customer First Digital Marketing”) putting your customer at the heart of everything you do in your business is the path to success.
Here are our 3 top tips for retailers to follow to make sure the content they are creating will achieve results.

1. Make sure you know who you are creating the content for? Have you really taken time to profile the type of people who might read this content and how useful and engaging it will be to them? What benefits will they get from consuming that content? Will it drive them to take a particular action? Would they want to share it? Remember its quality over quantity. A couple of bits of content that really engage and generate buzz is far better than dozens of pieces of static content that no-one interacts with.

2. Don’t just stick to blog posts. There are a huge number of different types of content that can be used as part of an effective engagement strategy across many different channels. Think Instastories, Interactive guides, Video, Pinterest boards, Facebook apps, Podcasts etc. Every content workshop we run with clients includes up to 30 different types of content! Again think of the type of content that works best for your brand AND your customers.

3. Amplify your content once you have created it. Don’t just create your content, upload it and keep your fingers crossed it works! Make sure you proactively promote it! Share it via email, social, influencers, link to it from other content. Better still get influencers to co-create content with you and share it with their community.

The above tips are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to effective customer engagement that will also increase online visibility. However, remembering them when it comes to planning your content will start you off in the right direction.

Always remember content isn’t king, your customers are!! Make content for them, not the search engines.

For further advice on effective content & customer engagement please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01273 322830 or email enquiries@leapfrogg.co.uk

Tips to help retailers win in 2017

With today’s warnings from high street bell-weather, Next, on the challenging year ahead, there’s no denying that the perfect storm of economic climate, tighter spending belts from cannier consumers and shifts in the sale seasons we’ve seen as the UK embraces Black Friday, has had a knock on effect on Christmas shopping patterns and a detrimental impact on retail revenue this season.

It’s now more important than ever to have a solid January to make up any shortfall from Christmas and put good foundations in place for a successful 2017.

We’ve put together some tips for retailers to get 2017 trading off to a good start:

Do you really know who your customers are?

The key to successful retailing, is of course, acquiring and retaining the right type of customer for your business. This is, in turn, reliant on being able to identify who they are and how to attract them.

When was the last time you had a look at your transactional data to explore who your best customers actually were, what they buy from you, how often and what they actually want from your product range and marketing?

If you don’t know that now, with 2017 set to be another fierce year competing for consumer £££s, you must spend January digging into your data and learning everything you can about your customer.

Don’t market to your customers – give them a great experience!

The luxury retail trend of providing customers with a fabulous in-store experience has finally filtered onto the high street, with TopShop and John Lewis both launching in-store facilities that brought the shopping experience to life in 2016. Creating a shopping ‘environment’ isn’t a trend that is going to go away, it’s how clever retailers now ensure retention of happy customers and it’s not confined to bricks and mortar.

When you know what your customer wants from you, emulate that experience online. Is excellent customer service more important to them than price? If so, invest in live-chat, or a better presence on social channels to answer customer queries. Do your customers ask friends and family for advice before committing to a big purchase? If so, make sure your reviews are showing up in your internet search results or work with key industry influencers to give you that editorial cache.

Most importantly, do you have the right team to deliver?

Does your existing team have the skill set to cope with the shifts in consumer expectations and the cannier digital execution needed to retain them?
Digital disciplines established in silos for years; SEO, social media, affiliates and PR are seeing a convergence like never before and you may find that a team that was previously structured beautifully now has glaring gaps from those experts who can see the bigger picture of what a customer wants and have the ability to develop quick solutions to provide it.

Use January as a time to take an objective look at the team you currently have in the business and identify where you may need to skill up.

With these foundations in place, you can look forward to 2017 and coping with all the retailing challenges it throws at you.

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