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!

How to take an agile approach to digital marketing

Our Head of Delivery, Gwen, recently wrote about Leapfrogg’s move into an Agile way of working across our digital marketing.

She wrote: “An Agile approach to campaign planning and delivery enables us to further adopt the growth hacking mind-set of data, creativity, and curiosity. The heart of growth hacking is the relentless focus on growth as the metric that matters.It fosters greater future focused analysis, opportunity spotting, adaptable plans (that can move at the speed at which the digital landscape changes) and it allows us to overcome any barriers and blockers to hitting targets in a proactive and flexible way.”

Working in a more agile way means that we are no longer tied to delivery of a longer term plan but are now equipped to redefine our scope of work as needed in much shorter intervals to maximise success. It means we are fully focused forward at all times and we deliver results not work. We are able to move with the same speed of the wider digital sector and stay ahead of the curve at all times.

Agile has been around in the technology and development sector of digital for a long time, but it’s now being more widely spoken of in mainstream marketing circles.

There is a growth hacking movement in the USA that is hitting our shores. Marketers are breaking down traditional approaches to campaign planning and working in a far more flexible way.

Instead of planning a six-month programme of work across multiple tactics, they are breaking down the plan and focussing on one area at a time to maximise its impact.

For example, instead of putting together a full eCRM strategy they will focus first on the priority which may be growing the number of email sign-ups as quickly as possible.

Step 1 – Analyse what is required to encourage sign ups and develop idea to test
Step 2 – Test the concept in a short sprint period
Step3 – Measure the impact
Step 4 – Roll out if successful

Then move onto the next priority, which may be improving email click-through-rate.

Once that element is improved they then may move onto landing page UX or email personalisation – whichever they feel will get them to their target quickest.

By working in this way, marketers are always focused on the end result, moving forward, failing fast, and most importantly they are able to keep up with the fast pace of the digital landscape.

Multiple sprints can be running at the same time to ensure that different areas of the marketing mix are developing. The main differentiator in working in this way is that if an activity does not yield results in an agreed amount of time, the team are able to move on quickly to the next tactic or revise the approach to the current one.

Although this approach is faster and harder than a long-term strategy, basing your activity on strong insight and data is still absolutely fundamental. How else will you be able to prioritise the work required effectively?

This level of analysis beforehand means you can pick the activity that will give you the biggest return first, improve it and use the increased success to give you the resource to move onto the next priority.

For agile to work effectively marketers must be constantly using the cycle of analysis, test, measure, then roll out.

This will inevitably mean a change in internal structure and process and the level of investment upfront will reap quicker and deeper rewards across all of your marketing activity.

Start thinking now about how you can be more agile with your approach to digital marketing, or speak to us about how we can help.

Image credit: VFS Digital Design on Flickr

The decline of organic Instagram and Audience Optimisation for Facebook

Here at Leapfrogg, every week we have a meeting to share developments within the world of customer experience, digital and retail. Here are some of the things we discussed this week…

The decline of organic Instagram

This week a study by social analytics company Locowise, concluded that Instagram’s engagement and organic growth is declining. Instagram was one of the most engaging social platforms in 2015, but now it appears it is growing so fast that it’s becoming more difficult to get organic growth on it.

Locowise reviewed 2,500 profiles and found that in terms of follower growth, the numbers were 88.21% lower in December, at 0.23% – than they were in at their peak in April, at 1.95%. Growth on Facebook and Twitter, were 0.14% and 0.09% respectively, during the same time.


Overall, Instagram is still performing better than Facebook and Twitter and Instagram ads are open to everyone through Facebook’s self-serve ad system. The bad news is that it looks like brands will now have to pay for visibility in order to be successful.

Our Social Media and Content Consultant, Hannah Brookes, said “social media advertising is a growing area in digital marketing – one that the platforms are more than willing to encourage. It’s certainly frustrating for retailers to have to pay to reach the audiences they’ve spent time and effort building up. Only time will tell if Instagram will follow the same path as Facebook and actively restrict the organic reach of content posted by businesses. Either way, when social media success comes with an advertising budget attached, it’s so much more important to have a clear strategy for your marketing. By taking the time to understand your customers and the journey they take from first contact to purchase, you’re much more likely to see a healthy return on your investment.”
 

WhatsApp’s allows brands to communicate with customers

Also this week, mobile messaging app, WhatsApp, announced that they are soon going to allow certain businesses to communicate directly with customers on the platform.

According to a company blogpost on the changes, WhatsApp will this year begin testing tools that allow consumers to “communicate with businesses and organisations [customers] want to hear from”. That means no ads and no messaging spam, and it will become more of a notifications service.

WhatsApp has already ruled out introducing third-party ads in its post, stating: “Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no.”

Enabling third-party brands on the platform should provide WhatsApp with a revenue boost without alienating users. We will be interested to see how this pans out and retailers can start using the platform to provide updates to customers and improve their customer service.
 

SEO finally comes to organic Facebook posts

In more social news, Facebook has just announced that Interest Targeting will go and will be replaced by Audience Optimisation.
 
Facebook’s new Audience Optimisation comes in three parts:
 

  • Preferred audience – tags that encourage Facebook show the post to people who might be interested in the tag.
  • Audience restrictions – a bit like the old interest targeting; you can say who might not be interested in the post.
  • Audience insights – want to see how the content actually performed against your tags? This will show you.

 
This means that English language pages, will soon be able to use interest tags within your posts and Facebook will optimise the delivery of those free posts to matching people. You’ll also be able to analysis how successful your interest tagging strategy is and see how different subsets of audiences are engaging with your content.
 

Christmas trading update

JLL’s annual Christmas Trading Update has revealed that over 80% of UK retailers and leisure operators that have disclosed performance figures for the key Christmas trading period have registered positive like for like (LFL) annual growth, with 50% delivering LFL growth in excess of 4% year on year.


Overall, online sales were the clear winner, and retailers that provide customers with an integrated, seamless offer continue to benefit from real competitive advantage. In particular, the growing influence of m-commerce was evident from the trading updates of Jigsaw (mobile sales up +115%), John Lewis (+31%), Very.co.uk (+32%) and Made.com (+122%).

Make 2016 the year of customer intelligence

Over the last few years, becoming truly customer-centric has become vital for retailers to succeed in today’s consumer-led world.

Those retailers that put the customer at the heart of their organisation and deliver an engaging and personalised experience are gaining loyal customers and market share from their competitors.

Not only does focusing on the customer make business sense, but research by Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to companies that were not focused on the customer.

The modern day consumer has extremely high expectations of the brands and retailers they shop with and now expect a seamless, personalised shopping experience across multiple channels.

As a result of these growing expectations, retailers are continually under pressure to improve the experience they give their customers. Larger retailers are creating customer experience roles and teams to help lead change across the organisation.

The first step for many has been getting the customer service and logistical elements of their business in shape. Better stock management and access, fast and low-cost delivery options and caring customer service are all good housekeeping measures which help increase conversion and retention.

But where do you go from here in order to stay ahead of the game and grow market share in 2016?

You now need to unlock the power of customer intelligence in order to make smarter marketing and business decisions and deliver an experience that engages customers at every level.

So what is customer intelligence?

Customer Intelligence is the product of three main capabilities:

  • The ability to collect, manage and manipulate customer data
  • The ability to turn that data into behavioural, holistic and predictive knowledge
  • The ability to use that insight to make change within the business

Once those elements are in place, you will have the ability to use customer intelligence to make impactful change.

Customer data

One of the great advances of ecommerce marketing is the ability to collect and analyse data on individual customers to help you understand more about your customers. For example:

  • Transactional data tells you what your customers have bought and when they made a purchase
  • Website analytics will tell you how your customers are behaving on site
  • In-store data collection will help show you which online customers also shop in-store
  • Email data will tell you which customers continue to engage with you and shop online

Using the above data to split customers into segments will allow you to start defining different types of customers and tailor your experience to them accordingly. The first step to customer intelligence is to start collecting, managing and manipulating the above data more efficiently.

Customer knowledge

Once data capabilities are in place, the next key stage is to build on that data to create a well-rounded knowledge of the customer on both a holistic and behavioural level. This will allow you to really understand their personal values, needs and expectations.

You should aim to find out the following information about your customers:

  • Demographics
  • Personal values
  • Online and offline shopping habits
  • Media consumption
  • Lifestyle and hobbies

Understanding the information above can lead to marginal gains across the entire shopping journey. The more detailed a picture you have of your target customers, the easier it is for you to start tweaking and improving their customer experience across your digital touch-points.

Using both quantitative and qualitative data to personalise the multi-channel experience to meet the needs of customers is now the ‘Holy Grail’ for retailers.

This is where the final element of customer intelligence comes into play.

Business readiness

There is no point in having a deep knowledge of the customer if you are unable to use that knowledge to make impactful change within the business.

Many retailers spend a large amount of money on customer insight that then sits in a corner gathering dust as the business does not have the processes or resource to use it effectively.

Only those retailers that have a culture of ‘test, measure and learn’ throughout their business and the processes to support it, are able to turn insight into true intelligence. You must have accountabilities for sharing customer knowledge with all relevant stakeholders. Those stakeholders must then have the resource and skill to use that insight to make changes, measure the impact of those changes, learn from it and then share findings with the wider business.

Retailers must make 2016 the year they build on their customer insight and experience strategy in order to gain true customer intelligence. By ensuring the three capabilities above are in place throughout the business, you will be able to:

  • Set well-informed and realistic business objectives
  • Prioritise budget and resource to the most relevant parts of the customer journey
  • Ensure marketing strategies are both optimised to minimise waste and personalised to drive better ROI
  • Build more meaningful relationships with customers that increase satisfaction and loyalty

 

cii_logo_medium_greytext

Leapfrogg and rais have created the Customer Intelligence Index to enable you to benchmark your customer data and insight capabilities, your level of customer knowledge and your ability to use it to make successful changes not just to your marketing but the wider business.

Click here to take our free online survey and get your own Customer Intelligence Rating.

 

How to put the customer at the heart of your digital marketing

In today’s consumer-led world, there’s no denying that crafting a great customer experience across all channels is firmly rooted as the key to success.

Those retailers who truly understand the needs and expectations of their customers and are able to deliver a positive, seamless experience across multiple touchpoints – from in-store, to mobile, online, email, sales and customer service – will ultimately prosper.

Whilst most retailers agree that designing and delivering the perfect customer experience is the key to success, there are many challenges they face in doing so, from data and insight through to back-end technology and larger structural changes. Digital marketers in particular face the ongoing challenge of knowing where to invest to get the best return when there is such a myriad of marketing opportunities and tactics available to them.

Our solution is to get into a customer-first mindset.

Basing decisions on actual insight and feedback from customers allows digital marketers to cut through the noise and make more informed decisions.

We believe that everyone in an organisation has a responsibility to be customer-centric and for this reason, we have produced a step by step guide on how to keep the customer at the heart of your everyday marketing activity. We explain how to get clever with customer insight in order to make smarter decisions and improve the results of your day-to-day marketing activity.

We hope you find the report a useful read. If you have any questions, please do get in touch to find out more about how you can use customer insight to put the customer at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Download the report button

 

Christmas in July: what should you be planning now?

With the summertime (supposedly) in full swing, the last thing anyone wants to do is start thinking about the upcoming festive season. However, for online retailers, Christmas really does come early and identifying a strategy now can make the difference between success or failure at the most important time in the retail calendar.

To highlight this point event further, last year Ometria found that customers acquired at Christmas time are 59% more likely to purchase again the next year, when compared to those who were acquired at other points in the year. Christmas is therefore a great time to acquire loyal customers, not just one-off seasonal purchasers.

Every year, we feature our top tips to start planning for the Christmas season and although we still stand by what we suggested in 2014, we’ve expanded on a few of the points and provided some new tips to help you get prepared…

Speak to your customers!

Our Managing Director, Rosie Freshwater, is a huge advocate of running surveys to gain insight about your customers and establish their shopping behaviour. Create a simple survey using a service like Survey Monkey and offer your customers an incentive for filling it in such as a giveaway or discount. Ask them if they are likely to shop with you for Christmas gifts this year and if so, what categories, price points and people they will be shopping for. This will give you a good steer on where to spend your marketing budget.

We also suggest asking your customers how you can give them the perfect shopping experience this Christmas. Ask questions around preferred delivery options, customer service channels and gift wrapping, as well as the types of gifts they will be looking to buy and who they will be buying for. Use this insight to get your Christmas promotions on point.

In a nutshell, it’s crucial to understand and profile your customers and then build your marketing strategy around them.

Get your website up to speed

Google satisfaction

As well as the survey questions above, ask your customers what they think about your website and invest some user testing sessions to identity any issues on your website. Services like WhatUsersDo are great help identity any issues in your customer journey and the user experience of your website. By doing this now, you’ll allow yourself ample time to make any necessary changes to your site.

Start a program of CRO testing, so you can be sure that your landing pages are converting well when it comes to the key Christmas period. Consider the page layouts, your basket, usability of checkout and test what are good merchandising and upsell opportunities on your key pages.

We also recommend running an optimisation review and a natural and paid search gap analysis as soon as possible. This will ensure that any well performing paid search terms are included on your site. Be sure to sense check the terms you are promoting to ensure these are still potentially good traffic drivers.

Start planning your specific Christmas landing pages now to ensure that you have strong landing pages for any campaigns you are running as well any Black Friday/ Cyber Monday promotions. While on the topic of Black Friday – make sure you have a watertight plan, as many retailers were caught out by its popularity last year and it’s predicated to be even bigger in 2015. Start planning everything from your product strategy and promotions to fulfilment and delivery.

Social media and content

Surface View_FB ad

When preparing any paid social campaigns, think about the platforms you are running campaigns on and what your audience looks like on each platform e.g. is your Facebook following mainly women while your Twitter followers are men? Use this insight to create campaigns that are appropriate for each channel. Look at your campaigns from last Christmas and see what you can learn from them – what worked and what didn’t?

Imagery and video content is REALLY important – it’s what grabs the reader’s attention, whether that’s a blog post or a Facebook update. Therefore, any creatives shouldn’t be an afterthought when creating Christmas content. Make sure you have the resource to create awesome images that reflect your brand and will engage your audience.

Also, ensure your social team are working very closely customer service department if they sit in separate teams. Typically, Christmas will be a busy time for them, but it’s likely there will be an increase in enquires and complaints coming through from the social too. Agree who is responsible for dealing with queries and and customer enquiries or problems are dealt with in a quick and efficient manner.

Paid search

Make sure you have visibility of every promotion you will be running over the Christmas period and how they will be promoted, so you can plan your campaigns around them. Look back at which promotions have worked best in the past, such as flash sales, free delivery or discounts, and focus on these in your Christmas promotions.

Plan your paid search budgets to anticipate shifts in search volume for big shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Take a look at your data from last year to see which days were the most popular and plan accordingly.

Upload all new advert creatives well in advance of their launch to ensure they are reviewed and approved before your campaign starts – this includes both text and image ads. Don’t let Google hold up getting your campaigns started!

Lastly, make sure your product feeds are fully optimised for Google Shopping which is a key channel for Christmas shopping when consumers are looking for specific products. By not having visibility in Google shopping, you’ll be missing out on a huge chunk of traffic.

As you can see there is certainly lots to be thinking about and this blog post has only just scratched the service. The key to having a successful Christmas is to start now, plan well ahead, and be organised! If you’d like to talk to us about your Christmas strategy, then do get in touch, there’s only 152 days to go…

Why standard customer profiling is only the filling in your insight sandwich

These days, everyone in retail is aware that the customer must come first – and really understanding your customer is the linchpin in that.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post – Customer insight: what you should know and why– there are many types of data, both qualitative and quantitative, that you need to understand in order to form a full picture of your customers.

Many retailers utilise standard customer profiling services such as Acorn or Mosaic to provide them with insight into the types of people their customers are and where they located. These tools in themselves provide an excellent starting point to gain a top-level understanding of your customers and provide a wealth of socioeconomic data and general behavioural insight. They are extremely useful when starting to tailor your brand and communications to the people you want to sell to.

However at Leapfrogg, we believe that understanding the profiles of your current customer base is not enough and that it’s only the filling in a much bigger ‘customer insight sandwich.’

sandwich

Before you add the filling to a sandwich, you need to have the bottom layer of bread in place to add the filling to. When creating your ‘customer insight sandwich’ – the bottom layer of insight which supports your customer profiling is ‘transactional segmentation.’ Profiling your customer database will be so much more fulfilling if you have already segmented your customers by their value to you now and also in the future. It’s better to know the type of people that sit within your most valuable customer pot vs. those who hardly ever spend with you.

For example, a general segmentation of your database may show that you have 40% of customers within a certain profile. As this is a large proportion of your database, you start to tailor your marketing strategies to them, but what you don’t know is that they all sit within a single purchase segment and are not of high value. By using transactional segmentation first, you may find that 5% of your customer database is from a completely different profile, but make up your most profitable segment as they are loyal customers making repeat purchases which generate 50% of your profit. By not understanding your customers’ transactional value, you could be tailoring your marketing to the wrong segment.

Once the bottom layer of bread is in place and you have filled your ‘customer insight sandwich’ with profile data, you still need the top slice of bread to hold it all together.

The top slice of bread is the real actionable insight you can find from your own qualitative research. Asking your customers directly what their buying motivations are, how they want to engage with you and the buying experience they expect gives you all the sustenance your marketing belly needs.

With this insight in place, your sandwich is complete. You know who your most profitable customers are, the type of people they are, but now also that they are most likely to respond to video content, or they are driven by product over price. You know that they want targeted emails from you and will engage with you on Pinterest, but will never follow you on Twitter or Facebook. You know the people that influence them online and that their loyalty to you is driven by exclusive access to your brand, not discounts. It’s this extra layer of insight that is the really actionable part and forms the action of your marketing strategy. It’s only when you have all three layers of your sandwich in place that you will know WHO you are selling to, HOW much they are worth to you and most importantly WHAT you need to do to engage with them in the way they want.

Happy sandwich making!

If you need help with any of the elements in your insight sandwich get in touch with [email protected]

Image from Pixabay.

What we learnt in 2014 and what we look forward to in 2015

With 2015 well and truly upon us, I asked the Leapfrogg team to reflect upon what we have learnt over the last 12 months in the world digital marketing and premium retail and how we expect this year’s developments to evolve.

Here’s what they came up with:

 

 

Rosie FreshwaterRosie Freshwater – Managing Director

2015 will be the year of “Customer Experience”

Last year, customer experience still felt very much like a theory that everyone preached and understood that they needed to start doing. However, retailers were challenged to do anything about it as they felt there was so much to be done just to get to the point of best practice. Only then did they feel they were ready to start tweaking the experience they give to certain customers.

I believe that 2015 will be the year that customer experience really does get put at the heart of digital marketing teams and retailers work out how to do that and build a focus on customer insight and data into every job role within their marketing teams and wider across the business. We will start to see roles such as ‘head of customer experience’ appear and more and job descriptions will include the need to understand customer data.

 

Ben PotterBen Potter – Commercial Director

Customer insight is key

If pretty much any year from 2008 onwards was labelled ‘the year of mobile’, 2014 was very much about ‘customer experience’ with marketers at the turn of the year proclaiming it to be the most exciting opportunity.

However, customer experience is nothing new, there is just far greater attention being paid to it as a discipline in its own right because, in a consumer-led, multi-device world, a seamless and consistent experience is so difficult to deliver.

The ability to decide where to invest for maximum return, minimal waste and happy customers will separate the good from the great this year. This is where customer insight is key. It shouldn’t only be shaping the big decisions but the ‘smaller’ ones too. Even at the most granular of levels, every decision should begin and end with the customer.

I hope to see marketers take a step back and see the bigger picture in 2015. If 2014 was the year customer experience became as much a part of the vocabulary as SEO or social media, 2015 is the year when retailers need to really live and breathe it. It’s the year when every decision is made on the basis of what customers actually want rather than what the retailer thinks they want.

 

Suzanne TaylorSuzanne Taylor – Website optimisation manager

Focus on your wider strategy

In 2014 it felt like brands and retailers took further steps to root digital execution in their in-house teams. It’s hugely important that internal departments are all embracing and ingraining digital in their day-to-day marketing efforts as this will provide a long-term foundation for digital success.

This year, online brands and retailers really do need to focus on building their brands by engaging with their customers and providing unique experiences. Although different channels all have their part to play, it’s important that brands focus on the wider strategy to ensure everyone is aligned and working towards overall business objectives. Better segmentation and personalisation are likely to get more advanced in 2015.

 

Alice ReevesAlice Reeves – Social Media and Content Manager

Video will dominate further

This year, video is set to become even more important and brands not creating their own video content are going to lose out to competitors that are.

Video doesn’t just give you the chance to create compelling, easy-to-consume content about your products and services, it also performs exceptionally well on social media. According to figures released in September 2014, around a billion videos are viewed on Facebook every day. Consumers’ thirst for quality video content is only set to increase in 2015 and the social networks know it, that’s why they’re going to be investing in and pushing their own video hosting capabilities. Get on the bandwagon early.”

Social media strategies need to be engagement-focused AND include paid media

The biggest disruptions to the social media sphere in 2014 were the various updates to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm which suppressed organic reach for brand Pages. As a result, our clients across the board saw their organic reach (along with resulting website traffic and conversions) taking a dip. With the roll out of further updates beginning this month which will suppress “promotional content” from Pages, brands are going to need to divide their Facebook strategy into two distinct areas in order to see success on the platform:

• Paid promotional
• Organic engagement

It’s not just Facebook that’s making changes like this in the name of improving the user experience. Pinterest recently introduced its ‘Smart Feed’ which means that pins are no longer shown in chronological order – they’re assessed on the basis of quality and relevance to the user. There’s also been speculation around whether Twitter is going to abandon its chronological timeline and serve users tweets based on relevance instead. If you want to see success on any social media platform in 2015, your strategy is going to need to be wholly engagement-focused AND include an element of paid media.

Content strategies need to be altruistic, not self-indulgent.

My final prediction for 2015 is that brands that don’t focus on delivering what their customers want via their social media and content are going to fall behind. In-depth customer insight (we’re not talking ACORN profiles here) should be the starting point for any content strategy and maintaining genuine engagement with consumers is going to be how brands see success. Content marketing is going to be entirely about answering problems and adding value.

 

Ben AdamBen Adam – Senior website optimisation consultant

Backlink relevancy will still be a big win in terms of search quality

In 2014, Google found a way to ‘encourage’ webmasters to help them start clearing the web through Penguin and its regular updates – something they have been attempting to battle unsuccessfully for a number of years. Over the last year, in fear of action from Google, website owners have been trawling through historic ‘spammy’ links, requesting removal of them and supplying lists of websites in the form of disavow files, shopping these offending sites directly to Google.

Last year saw many predictions and outcries of links being dead. However they still remain a core factor in the way Google ranks search results and they have got much better at identifying manipulated links thanks to the webs clean up.

Google are yet to find a better approach. They even tested removing links internally but the resulting quality was much worse. Matt Cutts stated “It turns out backlinks, even though there’s some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really, really big win in terms of quality for search results”. I would expect it to stay that way for some time.

 

Ben RobsonBen Robson – Senior social media and content consultant

Create content that has a purpose, rather than content for content’s sake.

2014 showed us that Google continues to place more and more emphasis on high quality content, rewarding businesses and brands who cater for online searches with content that is relevant and useful.

In 2015, I’m looking forward to seeing the trend develop further – helping our own clients position themselves as trusted sources of highly relevant, highly shareable content that attracts engagement from the right visitor demographic. I am also hoping 2015 is the year more brands recognise that adding to the growing amount of ‘content noise’ on social media (adopting a quantity vs. quality approach) is never the way forward. May 2015 be the year of content that has a purpose, rather than content for content’s sake.

 

AnnAnna Taylora Taylor – Sales and Marketing Executive

Customer-centric fulfilment

In 2015 the importance of free, speedy and flexible delivery and return options will continue to grow as ecommerce customers will start to expect this to be the norm. Gone will be the days of waiting weeks for deliveries and even months for your refunds. To compete, online retailers will need to provide an optimised online shopping experience and offer great deals on delivery and a fast turnaround time on all orders.

I think 2015 will also see personal and effective customer service becoming crucial in such a competitive retail landscape. We’ve seen many examples of retailers such as ASOS who may be pushing the boundaries in terms of innovation and expansion but they’ve come under recent criticism for their automated customer service processes. The fact that that 80% of UK consumers are less likely to buy again after one bad experience will mean that the retailers who can’t provide this will certainly fall behind

I think we will be seeing plenty to advances to online retail in 2015 but hopefully every single one will boil down to improving the customer experience.

So, what do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on our predictions so please feel free to leave a comment below.

The Weekly Shop (24th – 28th Nov)

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Weekly Shop. This week we’re talking Black Friday and Cyber Monday, updates on Twitter and Facebook’s ‘buy’ button and what we mean by the term ‘insight.’ Plus, the chance to win Fortnum & Mason  hampers when you complete our first Premium Panel survey.

Researchers predict Cyber Monday spending will top £500m; eBay says its big day will fall the day before

Cyber Monday takes place this coming Monday and new research has predicted that British etailers will together take more than half a billion pounds for the first time during the course of the day. That’s 11.4% up on the same time last year.

Facebook and Twitter won’t be able to check ‘buy buttons’ off their holiday wishlists

This week Facebook and Twitter announced that the “buy” buttons they have been testing since the summer won’t be introduced in time for the Christmas rush. The social media giants stated that this is because they want to ensure that they create the “right tool” before making it available to everyone.

What do we mean when we want “Insight”?

This next article from Clickz looks at what the term “insight” really means when it comes to marketing and if we using it in the correct way.

The Hype: what’s hot and happening in premium retail this month?

At the end of every month we round-up the hottest products, trends and innovations from the world of premium and luxury retail according to our Premium Panel. This month our panel has been getting excited about Anya’s Hindmarch’s bespoke collection, Liberty of London’s mobile loyalty app and some very luxurious advent calendars! Head over to our blog to find out more.

Take our survey and WIN a Christmas hamper from Fortnum & Mason!

This week saw our first Premium Panel survey go live. If you’d like to get involved, just answer these questions about your Christmas shopping and you’ll automatically be entered into our prize draw to win one of three decadent Fortnum & Mason ‪Christmas hampers worth up to £150. We’ll even make sure they’re delivered in time for Christmas Day! Click here to take the survey.
See you next week!

 

It’s not too late to maximise online sales this Christmas

Christmas is a key time for many retailers and brands. Therefore, it is important to ensure your website is up to scratch in order to maximise sales.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) underpins the success of a website and even a few small changes now could have a positive impact on conversion rates and sales over the festive period.

So where to start? How about with the following:

Carry out some quick A/B tests

Many tools such as Optimizely allow you to test smaller changes against the current design to determine which perform better than others. You can then serve the better performing page variation to a higher percentage of users in the run up to Christmas. This means that even if you do not get statistically significant results quickly, you can still divert more traffic to your higher converting page variation.

Conduct a user test

This will help you quickly identify any changes you can make immediately. If you have specific problem areas you want to test, What Users Do is a cost effective online tool that can top line key issues users’ face.

Conduct a short survey

Tools such as Google Surveys or Survey Monkey allow you to gain some quick, free insight into what users might find frustrating on your site. By focusing on getting something up and running now, you can run it for a month and implement any quick-win changes in time for December.

Identify problem pages in Analytics

Look for pages that drive a good amount of traffic but have low conversion and/or high bounce rates. In addition, review page speeds and work through priority recommendations from Google Page Insights. You will typically find the same problems across a number of pages, so some site-wide changes to improve load time could have an immediate, positive impact on user experience. It will also improve optimisation of the site.

Go through your checkout process

Identify any issues or tweaks you could make to simplify or streamline the process. Look out for unnecessary form fields, enable guest checkout (if you haven’t already,) auto populate address fields where possible etc. Try and be objective, as if you were a customer yourself.

ASOS checkout

Check your online enquiry forms and customer service channels

Ensure they function as best they can. Forms should be quick and easy to fill in and should let customers know that their enquiry has been received. Any queries should be answered promptly in order to try and maintain the attention of the customer and ideally their loyalty to buy with you.

Check your website’s search function

Many people know what they want and will search specifically for gifts at Christmas. They also usually want to view and compare products and prices quickly. Therefore, ensuring your site search functions well and provides relevant, useful results should help support conversions. If you are using Google custom search, you should explore marking up for a Google sitelinks search box which would enable a search box directly in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs.)

 

HoF

Review which products were popular last Christmas

Use this insight to ensure they have good visibility on your site this season. Use popular product imagery to promote email sign ups too (e.g. email / newsletter/ catalogue sign up boxes.)

Offer a price match

If you can, offer a price match offer in case customers have seen lower prices elsewhere. Price is even more important to customers at Christmas, therefore you have to ensure you remain competitive. Ensure price match messaging is in a prominent position across product pages and provide details for customers to contact you to honour the price match.

John Lewis price match

Free delivery

Where possible, offer free delivery as standard. Alternatively, consider awarding free delivery if people sign up to your newsletter. By doing so, you will benefit in the long run by growing your email list.

john lewis

Abandon basket emails

Make sure your abandon basket emails are working effectively in the run up to Christmas. These emails are really effective to bring people back to purchase.

Basket abandonment email

As you can see, it’s not too late to make some fruitful changes to your site that could boost your sales this Christmas. Look at your website with fresh eyes and prioritise any ‘quicker win’ changes so you don’t lose sales to your competitors. But don’t hang around too long – your customers certainly won’t!