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 [email protected]

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

Using the Christmas rush to build 2017 sales

For most retailers, the run up to Christmas is a very busy time, when sometimes planning and strategy fly out of the door to be replaced by ringing tills and fast and furious seasonal transacting.

But approached with thought, your Christmas rush doesn’t just need to be a short sharp peak in your annual sales figures, but can be coaxed into something a lot more meaningful for your brand.

In this blog post, we look at 3 simple tips to keep your Christmas rush paying throughout the year.

Collect, collect, collect:

Make your data collection process as quick and simple as possible.

For ecommerce retailers, as well as collecting data during the check-out process, ensure you enable relevant pop up data capture points at key areas on your homepage and as browsing customers leave the site.

For bricks and mortar retailers, investigate how you can capture email addresses along with transactional data at till point. Can you email your customers a receipt? In its simplest form, can you ask customers to leave their email addresses while the transaction is going on, with the offer of January discounts?

Ensure the process is as easy as possible, so your full time staff can fit it in to the conversation at a busy till point and seasonal staff don’t feel awkward asking. If relevant for your business, reward staff for the number of email addresses and data captured to keep that data being collected.

Segment, segment, segment:

Once the Christmas rush is over and we’re in the February lull, take the time to look through the transactional data and see what sparkly Christmas treasures it holds.

For online retailers and those bricks and mortar stores who were able to capture data electronically at till point, you should be able to segment Christmas sales into at least three simple segments:

  • Existing customers buying more at Christmas
  • Brand new customers who have never bought before
  • Those who bought last Christmas and came back for more

Each of these segments can then be nurtured with different messaging over the coming months to turn them from Christmas customers into loyal, year round shoppers:

Existing customers – communicate your thanks, ask them if their friends and family liked their gifts, (or if they enjoyed their own Christmas treats!). Offer them a friends and family incentive for those who they bought gifts for, or a thank you offer for being such a loyal customer (to coincide with any SS17 collection, obviously…).

Brand new customers – welcome them into an engagement programme, share with them your social and blog content, involve them in what you’re doing as a brand and motivate them to return to purchase.

Christmas (or sale) only customers – ask them why they don’t shop with you at any other times of the year, you’re sure to find out something useful; thank them for their input and pop them on the back burner to re-invigorate at your next sale period or Christmas.

If you can’t segment, just say thanks:

For those retailers without the ability to cross reference transactional data with customer data, a simple “thank you” can often work wonders.

Tell them you were grateful for their custom, that they made a difference to you and offer them an incentive to come back soon.

Happy Christmas!

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!

Operational tips for independent retailers learnt from the big boys

One of the things I love the most about digital is the lightning speed at which it changes, the flexibility and adaptability required to keep ahead of the curve at the cutting edge is phenomenal. As someone who is motivated by new challenges and finding solutions, this speed of change keeps me interested and excited all the time. Retail digital consultancy luckily lends itself to fast paced adaptation. Being operationally nimble is no small feat and certainly not something to be under estimated.

Having spent the last six years working with retailers there are common hurdles and barriers to success I see time and again. In this post I am going to explore five of the lessons independent and growing retailers can learn from the big ones, and get right.

Unity

All too often I see big in house teams divided, marketing and ecommerce working independently, to goals that don’t align with each other. Marketing speak digital but don’t fully understand it. Ecommerce are revenue orientated and are laser focused on the 2-3% of site visitors who are converting, often neglecting the other 98% of visitors who need to be engaged through the brand experience. Brand vs Ecommerce, ultimately with the customer suffering as the result.

Unify your team, set collaborative goals and clear lines of ownership.

Your marketing team should own acquisition, retention, engagement and advocacy. Bringing together harmony between departments is the only way to do this successfully. Up skill your brand team to exploit opportunity and support the ecommerce function but with the customer at the heart.

KPIs must be centralised and teams working collectively to the same goal. Minimise waste, maximise efficiency and create a unified customer experience.

Vanity Vs. Sanity

Get to know your customer, marketing should be aspirational but it also needs to be inclusive and realistic. All too often brands have an idea of who their customers are or who they would like them to be, but the reality of those actually buying is very different.

Use your data effectively, investing in your data partner and getting your customer data in good shape is essential. Build a centralised, single view across all channels, no silos or duplication of databases!

Segment your data and get to know your customer beyond their purchase, who are they, what do they care about, how do they want to be communicated with.

Each part of your business can then use this data to create a perfect experience across all touch points for all segments.

Look beyond last click

All activity needs to be driving a return that of course is a no brainer. However all channels are not equal when it comes to ROI. All too often activity gets canned (mostly by the FD!) if it is in a silo and cannot hold its own in the ROI stakes.

Don’t underestimate the halo effect of activity, ensure your reporting looks deeper at metrics such as assisted sales, brand and non-brand impressions, new visitors vs returning, engagement etc.

Set realistic goals with conversion in mind. Appearing number 1 for high volume generic terms may boost your ego (and cost a pretty penny), but will those customers actually convert?

Make structured change and measure the impact. Changing lots of things at once can leave you unsure of what impact each change has had. Analyse, develop, test and repeat.

Jack of all, master of none

The temptation to try and do everything, be everywhere and use all channels and tactics is all to present for brands. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be for the bottom line.

Use your customer insight and data to identify where your customers are actually spending their time and getting their inspiration and turn that into action. Invest your budget wisely.

Embarking on activity without a clear brief or objective is the road to failure. Make sure you know what you want to achieve from the activity and set clear goals so you can kick the tires and test the effectiveness of it. Analyze, develop, test and repeat.

Do less but do it brilliantly.

Direct to consumer vs wholesale

All too often do we see brands battling with their stockists for market share. Trade team driving forward their partners whilst the ecommerce team are hemorrhaging budget trying to keep up with the big players and their deep pockets.

Get your Trade and Ecommerce teams working together.

Agree terms and guidelines around products, pricing, promotions and brand bidding through paid media in your trade agreements.

Retain exclusives so you are the go to for the full range or hero products.

Get full visibility on stockist promotional activity and align your promotional strategy. Enabling you to manage your budget effectively in times when you may not be price competitive.

Submit your authorised stockist list to Google via their trademark form. This allows only authorised stockists the ability to use your brand name in their ad copy. Simple and effective but also needs policing.

All of the recommendations above are well within the reach of smaller retailers. They don’t require huge budgets, just time and focus. What are your barriers to success? Speak to us now about how we can help you start making a change in your business.

Why smaller retailers are perfectly placed to put the customer first

In the age of customer-first marketing – one might think that bigger retailers are at a clear advantage due to higher budgets, resource, and senior thinking.

Yes, of course, the larger retailers are able to throw money behind building customer experience teams and employing people to solely focus on uniting the business in putting the customer first. However, in our experience of working with all sizes of retailers – we actually think smaller retailers have the edge here.

In this post, I will explore three reasons why I think boutique retailers will find it easier to put the customer first:

Fewer customers

Most retailers would not view it as a benefit to having fewer customers than another, however, one of the main challenges larger retailers face in putting their customer first is having a huge number of customers that they have to understand and cater for.

To truly place the customer at the heart of their business, retailers must know who they are as people, how they shop with them now, how they shop with their competitors and how they can best engage with them in the future. This is a lot of data and insight to gather, analyse and take action from.

The fewer customers a retailer has, the less of a job it is to collect and organise data about them. The less time it will take to gather insight about them and what they want – the more simple it is to get inside the mind of the people who buy their products!

Flexibility

Smaller retailers have less complex business structures and processes that allow them to make change quicker.

We have worked with larger retailers who want to make change within their business to put more of a focus on the customer, but it requires huge resource and management to make those changes and put new processes in place.

We move in an extremely fast paced world and those retailers who can adapt and change first will give their customers the experience they want first.

Customer closeness

Smaller retailers are closer to their customers already and that’s a fact. In a small retail team, many will have direct contact with customers and therefore already have those direct relationships through which to get to know them better.

There is no excuse for boutique retailers not to be working hard to put their customers’ experience as a priority within their business.

Those that are not putting the customer first will be left behind by the competition who are already tailoring the experience they offer to create growth.

If you are a smaller or more boutique retailer the biggest challenge you will likely be facing is the fact that you are so busy running the day to day of your operations that taking time out to develop insight, analyse data and think strategically can be very hard to come by.

Luckily Leapfrogg are now able to help! We are now able to focus our experience with working with over 100 retailers on helping smaller and boutique retailers achieve their strategic goals. Our senior consultants act as board level advisors and in-house change makers to enable business owners or managers to take the time out to think strategically, start to work in an agile manner and take action to focus on the customer first.

Speak to us now about how we can help you start making a change in your business.

Social selling: understanding the purchase cycle

Social media is a major part of the customer journey. A growing number of consumers are using social media to search for, discover, purchase and recommend products. This offers retailers a great opportunity to build a relationship with their customers and connect with them throughout their purchase cycle. But from our experience, few retailers are making the most of this opportunity.

 

The options

There is an almost dizzying array of ways that brands can sell direct to consumers through social platforms. For some time now, Facebook have been including a “Shop Now” call to action in adverts, which encourages users to click through directly to the brand’s website, and this feature has now been made available on Instagram as well. Facebook also offers the opportunity to embed a “Facebook Store” within your brand’s Facebook Page, to allow users to browse, like, share and initiate purchase within the platform:

Untitled design (2)

For the time being, these stores are integrated with your current ecommerce platform and transactions are processed through your existing website. However, Facebook is currently testing functionality that would allow users to pay and complete their purchase entirely within Facebook through a third party payment solution.

Facebook has also launched a suite of ad tools aimed at driving and measuring footfall to physical stores, as well as click-to-call ads to drive direct sales and enquiries. A number of brands have jumped on Facebook’s chatbot functionality to provide 24/7 customer service and process sales:

1800 Flowers Live chat

Combined with improvements to the Facebook pixel, allowing you to track website behaviour that is influenced by your Facebook ads, and new audience targeting options for dynamic product ads, Facebook is very much leading the way in social commerce opportunities.

However, Pinterest is still one of the most powerful forces in social commerce. 93% of Pinners are using the platform to plan purchases, and on average they spend 70% more than other online shoppers. While not yet available in the UK, Buyable Pins, which will let users purchase a product directly from a Pin that inspires them, are something that all online retailers should be watching closely.

Even Snapchat is getting in on the act, having recently launched Shoppable Snaps – ads that allow users to swipe down for purchase options. Snapchat has struggled to attract the hordes of advertisers that Facebook has bagged, given its expensive pricing structure, basic targeting options and limited analytics, but they are hoping that a partnership with Nielsen and renewed trust in the platform will turn that around. Another channel that has struggled to effectively monetise its platform, Twitter is testing its own “Buy Now” button for ads.

The purchase cycle

It’s not just the moment of purchase itself that is influenced by social media. Consumers involve social media at every point in their purchase cycle:

journey

According to research, 43% of UK consumers currently use social media to research products before making a purchase, and this number is growing. Many consumers now search on social media platforms without consulting a search engine at all. Making sure that your social channels are optimised for discovery and engagement will only continue to become more important.

Once a customer finds your brand on social media, the experience they encounter could have a major impact on their desire to purchase from you. Social media users expect brands to be extremely responsive on these platforms: 42% expect a response within an hour, and 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. Not providing distinctive, interactive content and communicating often with your followers could lead to customers feeling negative towards your brand – and 95% of customers say they are inclined to share negative brand experiences on social channels, which could impact your reputation amongst other potential customers.

When consumers are making their final decision about which brand to purchase from, 80% are influenced by reviews on social media platforms. Enabling and encouraging customers to leave reviews, and sharing customer feedback, can be incredibly valuable to your business – especially as research suggests even negative reviews have a more positive impact on customers than no reviews at all.

Once a customer has made a purchase, allowing them to connect their social accounts for a more personalised experience and communicating with them on social platforms not only gives them a better customer experience and therefore makes it more likely they will shop with you again, but also encourages them to share their experience for new researchers to see.

The halo effect

Social commerce doesn’t only drive social sales. When we launched a Facebook shop for one of our clients, we were pleased to see a 74% increase in revenue. However, we also saw a 160% increase in direct conversions and 133% increase in organic search conversions. We know that customers mostly use social media on their mobiles, but prefer to complete purchases, especially high-end purchases, on desktop. Customers discover the brand through the Facebook Shop or adverts on mobile, then return directly to the website or through organic search later on desktop. Social media advertising also creates “warm leads” – those who have seen an ad for a brand on a social platform are twice as likely to click on a PPC ad. True enough, PPC conversions for our client increased by 56% following our Facebook activity.

Think integrated

Customers are likely to come into contact with your brand on a multitude of channels before they make a purchase decision – the more seamless and integrated you can make their experience, the more likely they will purchase, continue to purchase, and influence their networks to do the same. Your social media channels aren’t just a place for you to advertise, they are an extension of your physical and online stores – a place where customers will browse, ask questions, make complaints, ask other customers’ opinions, and purchase. Rather than simply using social channels to promote your business, think about how you can use those channels to offer the best possible service to your customers. Then you know they’ll be back.

To find out how Leapfrogg can help you develop a social commerce and customer service strategy, please do get in touch.

 

Key takeaways from this years’ SheerB2B Ecommerce Conference

Leapfrogg has proudly been a part of the SheerB2B conference for the past six years. As well as the bigger industry events we go to, it’s our annual opportunity to check in with the premium retail industry at the smaller, more niche, luxury end of the spectrum. We always enjoy catching up with brands and our fellow speakers over its two days of panel discussions, presentations, case studies and networking.

As the Board Director accountable for bigger picture strategy for our clients, there were three main themes came out of the show for me:

    • Ensuring the longevity and value of a premium brand
    • Getting to know your data better
    • Breaking down your supplier silos

Ensuring the longevity of your brand

Driving sales vs. protecting your brand was the hottest topic this year.

With retail competition for the premium and luxury consumer fierce, a current retail culture for excellent service as expected and discounting the new normal, there were a number of retailers at the show all keen to share how best to keep a tight grip on their brand, whilst not losing revenue.

Sarah Weedon from Jigsaw inspired us with a very generous presentation about their brand ethos and stance against discounting culture. They have a “pricing referendum” – an honest and bold statement of product quality and ‘truth’ that that brand resolutely sticks too.

jigsaw
Jigsaw’s pricing manifesto

To ensure this ethos is lived by all departments, Jigsaw refused to participate in Black Friday discounting last year, claiming to “stand for something”; that ‘something’ being the quality of product and longevity of design. Their ecommerce team clearly communicate their sale dates to their customers at the beginning of the year and don’t discount stock below certain, pre-agreed level.

As Sarah told us, Jigsaw stocks some cardigans that can take more than 30 hours for one of their designers to hand knit – discounting something of such obvious quality is madness.

Their content strategy supports the business stance justifying the price point, materials and design ethos with ongoing storytelling around quality, fostering trust and belief from their loyal audience.

THE ITALIAN JOB a film by Jigsaw from Jigsaw on Vimeo.

Jigsaw’s designers are also very bought into the idea of longevity and create garments of silk, cashmere and leather that can be worn season after season. Jigsaw invests in its own in-house illustrator and works closely with designers to create hand created pieces each season.

There were also lessons to be learned from Martin Bartle from Arthur Ridley Esq and Michael Ross from Dynamic Action who cautioned against discounting. Many retailers know that any new customers you acquire during a discounting period, are more often than not, retained customers that feel comfortable purchasing at full price at the start of a season, but both were very clear to the delegates in the room that luxury and premium retailers just shouldn’t discount and realistically accept that revenue growth may well be slower because of it, but ultimately much better for the longevity of the brand.

Getting to know your data better

Martin Bartle and Michael Ross both gave presentations about digging into your data.

The quote of the conference has to come from Martin Bartle who said: “Your data is like an Agent Provocateur bikini; what is reveals is interesting, but what is conceals is vital!”

His argument that average order value (AOV) is a myth, and it was refreshing and exciting to hear both Martin and Michael argue that retailers make a disproportionate amount of their profits from a small segment of their loyalist E.I.Ps – Exceptionally Important People – and that this segment should not only be identified but treated differently from the majority their most loyal and retained customer segment.

This immediately inspired Will from our data partner rais and I, to start working on a new programme to start identifying our client’s average profile value (APV) per segment. This is an exciting element of insight that will only add value to the current segmentation, insight and strategy projects we’re working on.

Breaking down your supplier silos

We have been working with retailers for many years, helping the more forward thinking ones break down their internal department silos and ensure that all internal disciplines responsible for success in digital and ecommerce communicate and work with each other better. We’ve trained offline content teams to think bigger picture about online, structured reporting procedures and lobbied for buy-in from traditional bricks and mortar stakeholders into the value of digital, but we hadn’t yet started work on breaking down logistical supplier silos.

Presentations from our friends at Nosto and the logistics experts Temando, who we hadn’t met before, helped us see how the supplier chain could work more efficiently and cost effectively too.

It makes sense that the customer wants a seamless experience and seeing logistics and technology suppliers talk at the conference enabled us to see how the offline jigsaw could compliment the online one.

 

On the first day of the conference, our Managing Director, Rosie, spoke about how you can deliver a perfect personalised experience using data and insight and you can catch up with her presentation here. On the second day, I spoke about the level of customer intelligence within premium panel after analysing the results of more than 75 retailers who completed our Customer Intelligence Index. You can read a recap of my presentation here.

All in all another useful 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.”