6 Mid-Year SEO Trends
THE MAGAZINE FOR WEBSITE SUCCESS AUGUST 2016
E-COMMERCE CX Takes a Village INSIDE THIS ISSUE... Analytics Solutions for Startups and SMBs The “Creature of Habit” Layout in Web Design Helping Users Recover from Navigation Errors
0 5 P O T
rvices e S l i a Em tions & Solu
E-Commerce CX Takes a Village In retail, there are many internal and external influences shaping decisions (what technology to invest in for the organizations themselves and for shoppers, who to buy from, endorse and remain loyal to). In order to provide the types of customer experiences shoppers expect today, it takes a village of stakeholders who can identify, predict and respond to shifting behaviors and technology providers that can support it all.
THIS MONTH IN WEBSITE MAGAZINE
Retail Tech Spotlight
Didn’t make it to IRCE? Take a quick look at just some of the offerings that captured the attention of our editors.
Software implementation can bring about avoidable incidences that can torpedo a whole project if not properly prepared.
Intent versus Demographics
Apps for ‘Net Pros
Not all customer data is created equal, and retailers would be wise to understand the difference and leverage them appropriately.
There’s an app for everything, but most aren’t worth the screen space; these, however, are worth regular use for Web workers.
Bigger Isn’t Better in Email
Turn Selfies Into Sales
Although some may be impressed by size and volume, the real value of a list should be measured in other ways.
Love em’ or hate em’ this type of user-generated content is a powerful asset that can be used to drive conversions.
Recover From Nav Errors
Header Bidding In Focus
Sites should operate error free, but mistakes happen (internally and externally); it’s how brands optimize the experience that matters.
It’s been a long time coming, but there’s finally technology that levels the playing field for information publishers.
EXPLORE WEBSITE MAGAZINE’S DEPARTMENTS Net Briefs: Facebook, Walmart and Bots
Stat Watch: Customer Experience Spending
Small Business Lab: Analytics Software for SMBs
E-Commerce Express: Digital Purchasing Habits to Know
Design & Development:
Rock Star Email Strategies
“Creature of Habit” Layout
Refresh Customer Review Initiatives
Top 50: Omnichannel Email Solutions
Mid-Year SEO Trends
Web Commentary: Choosing a Business Partner
DIGITAL SCOOP Check out Website Magazine’s email newsletters covering search, e-commerce, social, design and more at wsm.co/webscoop.
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EDITOR The Magazine for Website Success
The Customer Experience Village When former First Lady Hillary Clinton penned her book “It Takes a Village” back in the mid-1990s, online shopping was nascent at best. Properties like eBay and Amazon were helping to put it on the map though – and were poised to forever influence how we buy and sell products. Since then, both Clinton and the Internet retail industry have hit fantastic milestones, growing in both influence and complexity. Of course, Clinton is fundamentally disliked by many (to put it mildly), but there is something to be said of her experience and ability to stay top of mind and in the game after all these years (something retailers often struggle with). Clinton didn’t do it alone, nor do retailers get or maintain success by themselves either. In today’s highly transparent world, the experience that enterprises are providing is available for current and potential customers to see as their peers openly share their opinions, reviews, stories and photos across the Web. If there was ever a time where it takes a village to do anything (raise kids or raise revenue), it is now. Even with powerful single-stack solutions for commerce, there is no one vendor that offers the end-all, be-all to customer experience analysis and optimization (although many are trying through acquisitions). Do integrations become tough to manage? No doubt, but failing to recognize all the moving parts of e-commerce today, specifically when it comes to meeting customer expectations, is irresponsible. Those retailers ready to soar into this holiday season (regardless of who will sit in the Oval Office very soon after), are those who will use available technology to improve interactions customers/clients have with them preto post-conversion. There are other articles within this issue that speak to the importance of technology in the user experience including our Top 50 list of email marketing software as well as Small Business Lab, which focuses on analytics products for startups and smaller enterprises looking to improve their CX. As always, we hope you join us on the ’Net where our editors and industry contributors share tech and tips that matter most to your Web success. Best Web Wishes,
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Set Your Sights on September Nearly every organization uses it, but not everyone understands the opportunities that email provides today, from the ability to increase customer engagement to drive
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NET NEWS Facebook Friends Come First Facebook is shaking up its news feed algorithm once again, and this time it is not good news for brands. The update will display content posted by friends higher up in the news feed. Facebook indicated that reach and referral traffic will likely decline for some Pages, and suggested that to avoid the impact of the update, brands should post things their audience is likely to share. Of course, there is always the option of promoted posts.
Learn how to create your first Facebook advertising campaign at wsm.co/1stfbook.
Walmart Challenges Amazon Walmart is ready to fight Amazon for the e-commerce crown with a free 30-day trial of its unlimited two-day shipping program called ShippingPass. After the free trial, ShippingPass is $49 a year, which is about half the price of Amazon Prime. What’s more, ShippingPass requires no minimum order and includes free online and in-store returns. It is important to note, however, that Amazon Prime comes with other benefits, including unlimited photo storage and the ability to stream videos and music. Will Walmart eventually move in the same direction?
Yahoo Unveils Content Marketing Studio Yahoo Storytellers is a new content marketing studio for brands and agencies. The offering includes content consulting services and curriculum-based workshops, as well as development of premium video and a variety of editorial content, influencer activations across social platforms and partnership extensions. By combining content, data and ad tech, Yahoo Storytellers aims to help brands identify consumer insights and inform them on what content opportunities they should pursue to reach their target audience.
Get quick access to the latest ‘Net news at www.WebsiteMagazine.com.
$ WHO GOT PAID? $26 Billion
HOT: LinkedIn Acquired by Microsoft See what this all means for Web workers, digital marketers and the business community at wsm.co/linkmicro.
Sales data startup Jornaya, formerly known as LeadID, closed a $10 million investment led by Edison Partners. The company, which will use the funds to continue to grow operations, has achieved 17 consecutive quarters of revenue growth.
What3words, a global addressing system that eliminates the need for zip/postal codes and GPS coordinates, raised a $8.5 million Series B round led by logistics provider Aramex with participation from existing investors including Intel Capital, Force Over Mass Capital and Mustard Seed.
TECH UPDATES Start the AdSense Experiments! Step into the AdSense Labs, a new feature within AdSense accounts where publishers can find interesting “experimental” features. At launch, the first two features Google is offering are called “Show Fewer Ads” and “Inline Ads.” Show Fewer Ads, for instance, appropriately reduces the number of ads shown to users in exchange for a negligible drop in revenue. Inline Ads, on the other hand, are 320x100 ad units that are automatically inserted within a mobile site as a user scrolls down the page.
Get Rid of Comment Spam Commenting and audience development platform Disqus is helping publishers fight against comment spam with a new user blocking feature, which will enable Disqus users to block the profiles of commenters who they believe are negatively impacting their online discussion experience. When someone blocks a user they will no longer receive notifications from that blocked user via email, in their Disqus inbox, in their home feed or on discussion threads.
Got Bot Protection? Bots have taken the ’Net by storm, but they are not always used for good. Competitors and hackers can use them to scrape website content, engage in brute force attacks, competitively mine data and cause downtime. What’s worse is that most websites are not protected from these threats. In fact, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) revealed that 97 percent of the top websites on the Web currently lack bot protection. What’s more, the data shows that more than 88 percent of all bad bot traffic last year was made up of APBS, which are bots that mimic human behavior.
POPULAR WITH WM READERS How to Manage and Motivate Web Teams +
A website is only as good as the team behind it. So what can a manager do to boost morale and help team members work more productively? Are technical team members inspired in the same way as creatives? Check out these tips to prevent your Web projects from spiraling out of control because of bad management.
Date Your Web Design, Don’t Marry It (Yet) +
Redesigning a legacy website is a project that is not undertaken lightly. It’s time-consuming, costly and most of all risky. While change is often hard, when approached with careful planning and forethought, the process can lead to a happy long-term relationship with fruitful results.
How to Get a Head Start on Holiday Email Marketing +
The holiday months (NovemberDecember) account for a large part of a retailer’s revenue, so with so much riding on the season’s success, preparation should start early. Yet last August, 38 percent of Internet retailers reported that they were unprepared for the upcoming holiday shopping season.
BRIEFS WEB TECH WATCH
Check out what has the digital community all abuzz with Website Magazine’s #WebTechWatch series, a monthly roundup profiling emerging and established technologies and some of the most useful solutions for today’s Web workers. Submit your own recommendations by tweeting us at @WebsiteMagazine.
MessageBird Chat API Connect with customers through different messaging apps (SMS, voice, chat) through one interface.
SmartrMail Sends product recommendation emails for e-commerce stores.
Smart Travel Guide from Yahoo There is a new travel app that conference-goers will want to consider downloading. The iOS app, dubbed Radar, delivers personalized recommendations of activities and restaurants to users as well as filters recommendations based on preferences and month of travel. Radar also sends check-in reminders and notifications of flight delays, gate changes and cancellations. Discover additional apps at ApplicationMagazine.com.
Adalyz Applyzer CSS-Mint A lightweight and easyto-use CSS UI kit.
App store rankings, reviews and keywords for free.
A data platform to connect any data source from Web apps to databases.
Reaction and re-engagement tool for websites and weblogs.
Analytics and reporting for digital ad campaigns on Facebook, AdWords, Twitter and more.
Amelia An agent (bot) to help brands create new “service-rich” customer experiences.
Pubstorm ZenLocator A modern store locator widget for websites.
Have tips, stories, funding or acquisition news to share?
Tweet us @WebsiteMagazine
Nearly half (48 percent) of business-to-business (B2B) sellers said they are aware their customers are comparing the shopping experience they provide with other experiences including those on popular business-to-consumer (B2C) sites according to a new study of mid-market B2B e-commerce decision-makers from Forrester Consulting commissioned by NetSuite. So what are retailers doing about it? Thirty-nine percent of sellers surveyed report they are either currently choosing a new e-commerce partner or plan to choose one within the next 12 months. Of those considering a new e-commerce provider, two-thirds (62 percent) said they would lean toward a single-stack approach with their new provider (e.g., no separate systems for orders, inventory, etc.). Midmarket sellers using a single-stack solution indicated these offerings deliver simplified maintenance, greater agility and easier expansion as well as streamlined operations overall. Part of the reason B2B sellers – particularly those who have not had a digital presence before – are making these investments is the current level of competition online. Forrester reports that U.S. B2B e-commerce will grow from $780 billion in 2015 to $1.13 trillion by 2020. What’s more, 42 percent of sellers in the study expect at least half of their customers to be buying from them online within the next three years. It’s not enough just to have a digital store, of course, CX needs to be invested in. More than half of sellers reported focusing on e-commerce because their customers expect a high-quality online shopping experience (like those offered by some B2C sites), indicating business buyers are bringing their consumer expectations to work with them.
Other Notable CX Stats:
One in five B2B customers have experienced a problem with a company or product, but only 40 percent of customers believe the B2B company resolved their issue. Only five percent of those customers say they are “very satisfied” with the way the company handled their problem. (Gallup, Feb. 2016)
Most Fortune 500 CEOs are not investing their time in social media with 61 percent not having a social media presence at all. They could be missing valuable insights into their customer experience as well the chance to connect with their audience on a more personal level. (Domo, 2016)
Customer experience is a top-five area of technology investment for chief marketing officers with 56 percent of these decision-makers prioritizing it ahead of advertising operations but behind social marketing, digital commerce and marketing analytics. (Gartner, Oct. 2015)
52% Over half of executives, responsible for companies with more than $250 million in revenue, plan to invest in mobile device apps in the next 12 months (52 percent). (Oracle, 2015)
A U GU ST 2016
Email marketing has the potential to be a rock star in any organization. The most in-tune marketers, however, know that in order to benefit from the channel, they must leverage techniques that engage recipients on a personal level and avoid batch-and-blast messages where everyone on a list shares the same experience. In fact, when MailChimp sampled approximately 2,000 of its users it found that campaigns which were segmented (e.g., by clicks, opens or bounces) performed markedly better than their non-segmented counterparts. Digging deeper, campaigns that were segmented by “signup type” enjoyed 88.73 percent more clicks than non-segmented emails. MailChimp advises marketers to create signup forms with checkboxes, radio buttons or drop-down menus so subscribers can indicate their interests before receiving messages. “For example, a music website might have an email signup form with options for favorite genre or preferred method of discovering new bands.” This remarkable increase in engagement wasn’t isolated to just signup type, as segmenting by attributes like “zip code” or “job title” provided marketers a 14.43 percent higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns. Whether you’re currently plugged into your email data to improve engagement rates or not, this month’s Quiz Time will test your knowledge of the vibrant channel. After taking the quiz, we encourage you to visit us on the Web where email strategies and technologies are covered at wsm.co/emailexperience.
1. True or False: Integration of a direct buy (e.g., “buy now”) button in email campaigns consistently provides an increase in sales. 2. What percentage of marketers believes smaller, segmented data provides better insight for future development of marketing strategy and execution? a. 75 percent b. 25 percent c. 10 percent d. 90 percent
3. What do digital marketers think their biggest email marketing challenge is in 2016? a. Increasing open rates b. Acquiring new subscribers c. Competing against other emails d. Making emails responsive
4. What message do 40 percent of online retailers make sure they send as their first email to new subscribers? a. A percent-off promotional code b. A request for demographic information c. A “thank you for subscribing” message d. They wait to email until a purchase has been made
5. In relation to email deliverability, “SPF” stands for…
Get the results of Quiz Time at wsm.co/qtaugust16 or by scanning the QR code on the left.
a. Shortest path first b. Sender policy framework c. Spam protection factor d. Single point of failure
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A U GU ST 2016
Seeking Authenticity in
Online Customer Reviews By Sara Spivey, Bazaarvoice
With the holiday shopping season just three months away, it’s the perfect time to clean and refresh your website and digital content particularly when it comes to material not created by you. With recent news about how bogus product reviews are becoming more prevalent and the fact that companies like Yelp and Amazon are suing those selling or creating fake reviews, it’s time for us all to do some serious online housekeeping to help create an online experience shoppers can trust. Seven in ten consumers are questioning the authenticity of online reviews, while 90 percent of shoppers say their buying decisions are influenced by them according to internal research. That’s a significant majority of the general public who want (and deserve) to trust the content they find plastered across brand and retailer sites. As an industry, it’s our job to ensure that we are providing that authentic shopping environment. Therefore, we must continue to remind companies, brands and 12
AUG UST 2016
retailers how important trust and authenticity are to consumers when it comes to our ever-increasing online presence. So, why is consumer confidence so important? When people shop for a product or service, they aren’t just looking to buy something they want or need; they are looking for an experience that is honest, transparent and personal. Authenticity and trust are among the few constants that help businesses inspire people and create valuable, lasting relationships with the same consumers who one day may also become their advocates. The minute that trust is eroded through fraudulent site content, the entire system breaks down – not just in a single brand environment, but across the industry. It’s our job to be better gatekeepers. With the growth of consumer-generated content (CGC) – ratings, reviews, questions and answers, photos, videos and social posts – we have an incredible opportunity to provide consumers with a wealth of honest opinions from like-minded shoppers that help them make more informed buying decisions.
More than that, CGC gives everyone an equal voice online, but with that unlimited access and freedom, there’s also the unfortunate side effect that fraudulent content is also on the rise. It was discovered that 71 percent of consumers now read reviews before making online purchases. It was also found that 44 percent of those consumers would be more trusting of reviews that offered a “trust mark” and added a description of a company’s anti-fraud policies. As consumers make decisions along their shopping journey, they need to trust what they read. There are a number of ways to reassure site visitors that a brand has taken the utmost care in protecting the authenticity of their reviews, while continuing to gain their trust. But how exactly do you ensure that site content is authentic? Companies can start by sending review request emails to verified purchasers as a way to collect authentic content, use third-party technologies (like device recognition and reputation technologies that go beyond the usual IP address recognition and geo-location filters) to analyze device usage patterns, take advantage of advanced algorithms, rules and audits that flag what might be suspicious and, finally, employ a team of actual human fraud analysts to make final determinations on what is authentic. Beyond those initial ongoing steps, here are four key ways to protect both the authentic voices of consumers as well as a brand:
1. EVALUATE/MODERATE Eighty-one percent of U.S. consumers said they would feel more comfortable if online reviews were captured, monitored and displayed by a neutral and credible third party and 55 percent would trust reviews that had been through a technology filter and human analysis. Use a variety of verification technology tools to ensure content is coming from real people who have first-hand experience of the product. Review suspicious content with a team of human moderators who can help identify fraudulent behavior (a third-party vendor can help do this for brands as well).
The minute that trust is eroded through fraudulent site content, the entire system breaks down – not just in a single brand environment, but across the industry. It’s our job to be better gatekeepers.
2. DON’T OVER-CURATE Resist the urge to alter, edit or correct verified content in any way so it remains completely authentic and transparent (e.g., no edits to shorten or correct grammar or spelling errors). While grammar and spelling mistakes in reviews may seem frustrating, they actually help build authenticity in the eyes of the consumer.
3. DON’T OBFUSCATE Maintain transparency overall. Disclose online if a financial benefit, coupon or other incentive was provided to the reviewer in exchange for the review.
4. ADVOCATE Brands will want to clearly articulate their commitment to authenticity and zero-tolerance for fraudulent or unethical content and advocate that all companies and competitors do the same. See guidelines set by WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) in the U.S. or AFNOR in France as a guide. Companies can go even a step further by posting a trust mark on the site that serves as a visible and constant reminder of the brand’s commitment to honest, transparent and authentic content. Though no system is completely bulletproof, approaching reviews and an online presence with these four tactics will help enterprises clean off the dust that might have accumulated from years of unmoderated consumer generated content, as well as give them a chance to establish stronger relationships with the actual consumers and reviewers who are already engaged fans and involved advocates for their product or service. Refreshing review strategies is an annual process that will benefit companies for years to come. Now who wants to grab the metaphorical broom? Sara Spivey is the CMO at Bazaarvoice, where she brings 30 years of marketing, strategy and leadership experience. She is responsible for overall leadership of Bazaarvoice’s global marketing programs, including demand generation, solutions marketing, brand strategy and communications.
How to Get More Reviews Discover ways to encourage buyer feedback at wsm.co/moreugc.
Special Delivery Email Services & Solutions for the Age of Omnichannel Engagement Developing and maintaining an omnichannel presence is top of mind with today’s brands. Consumers want and expect a consistent, useful and engaging experience whether they are in the virtual or in the real world, and it is brands’ responsibility to provide it if the aim is deeper audience loyalty or greater revenue and profits (which it should be). Even though consumers expect an omnichannel experience and reward those companies that concentrate their efforts on offering it (omnichannel shoppers have a 30 percent higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel according to Google research), most marketers are simply not prepared. Sixty-four percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs), for example, cited a lack of “resources and investment” as the greatest challenge to executing such a marketing strategy according to data collected by the CMO Club. Is it possible, however, to give engagement efforts a boost (whether a company is ready for omnichannel or if it is not yet a consideration) and make this virtual dream an actual reality? Yes, and email is arguably the single best way to get started. Email – one of the many mechanisms that digital marketers have long used to connect to consumers – is an effective and essential part of successful omnichannel marketing strategies because it works; and it is high time today’s digital companies recognize that. Thanks to a renewed focus on the customer experience, integrations of numerous types and of course, the power of automation, success with email initiatives is becoming a reality. Plus, a strong email foundation for brands provides an excellent opportunity when omnichannel initiatives are on the horizon. In this month’s edition of Top 50 within Website Magazine the focus is on email services and solutions to help marketers drive higher levels of engagement in the omnichannel age. The providers listed serve different types of business users and help satisfy a variety of demands for enterprises of all sort – from small businesses that want to send a monthly email newsletter to international retailers that distribute personalized, behavior-triggered content to their users whenever they visit. Email is often low on the list of opportunities for today’s digital marketers who often opt for the sexiness of social or the efficiency of paid search advertising. Email, however, particularly for those who recognize the importance of customer experience and need for engagement, should be part of the marketing mix – whether a company is omnichannel (yet) or not.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50.
MailChimp.com ConstantContact.com CampaignMonitor.com Marketo.com Salesforce.com Experian.com HubSpot.com Benchmarkemail.com MyEmma.com Dyn.com VerticalResponse.com SendGrid.com AWeber.com iContact.com Act-On.com GetResponse.com Mailgun.com CakeMail.com MadMimi.com EliteEmail.com Silverpop.com Postmarkapp.com ReturnPath.com SubscriberMail.com Bronto.com ActiveCampaign.com WhatCounts.com Sailthru.com Campaigner.com StreamSend.com Mailjet.com Contactually.com Robly.com Listrak.com Avidian.com IgnitionOne.com GetRevue.co BlueHornet.com ReachMail.net dotmailer.com Salesfusion.com Yesmail.com Sparkpost.com Pinpointe.com Postup.com GraphicMail.com FreshAddress.com MailUp.com Knowtify.io Adestra.com
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DATA SERIOUS Analytics Solutions for Startups & Small- to Mid-Size Enterprises By Peter Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief
As digital marketers continue to accelerate the pace of their content development and customer experience initiatives and take advantage of more channels and Web-based promotion opportunities, the amount (and variety) of data can seem overwhelming at times. Layer on personalization and behavioral data, and the situation becomes far more complicated. Fortunately, there are many data-related solutions available that make quick work of not only aggregating all the information, but also processing it to a point where actual insights can be gained and, of course, put into action. Let’s take a look at a few of the more interesting options available for startups and small and mid-size enterprises today (although these can also be used on the large, enterprise level as well). Canopy Labs: Customer analytics platform Canopy Labs uses customer behavior, sales trends and predictive behavioral models to extract information that can be used for future marketing campaigns and to discover product recommendation opportunities. The system’s 360-degree Customer View feature shows data about each customer, revealing their standing (e.g., lifetime value, loyalty, engagement levels, purchase history and email behaviors) to reveal which customers are worth contacting. The information can be used to create personalized offers, track customer responses and The 360-degree Customer View within develop outreach campaigns. Canopy Labs provides a unified view of customers’ activities within a single dashboard so sales team can personalize offers for individual customers.
Kissmetrics: Today’s enterprises are moving beyond traditional Web
analytics solutions. Kissmetrics, for example, goes further than tracking basic metrics like page views, referrals and demographic information – monitoring visitors to gather insights that can be used for improved segmentation and more successful marketing campaigns. The platform also offers some unique engagement tools such as the ability to create triggers and design styles that optimize customer behaviors, which leads to more conversions, reduced churn and, ultimately, a higher return on investment. ClearStory Data: This startup offers advanced data mining and analytics tools that present information in an easy-to-understand way. ClearStory Data works by combining a company’s internal data with publicly available information in order for business users to make better decisions. The platform’s StoryBoard feature enables users to create graphs and interactive visuals from the dashboard and even comes with collaboration offerings, which can encourage team discussions. InsightSquared: The tools companies already use provide another rich source of data, but this doesn’t mean professionals have to waste time mining their own data and arduously analyzing it using one spreadsheet after another. Instead, InsightSquared connects to popular business solutions many ’Net professionals already leverage (e.g., Salesforce, QuickBooks, Google Analytics, Zendesk and others) to automatically gather data and extract actionable information. Data from a customer relationship (CRM) software platform, for example, can reveal an abundance of small business sales intelligence and offer pipeline forecasting, lead generation and tracking, profitability analysis and activity monitoring. Tranzlogic: There is an immense amount of data available within credit card transactions and Tranzlogic is making this information available to sellers. The solution works with merchants and payment systems to extract and analyze data from credit card purchases as well as measure sales performance, evaluate customers and customer segments, improve promotions and loyalty programs, launch more effective marketing campaigns, write better business plans and perform other tasks that lead to smarter business decisions. There is obviously no shortage of solutions available for startups and small enterprises looking to take better advantage of their data. To learn more about leveraging data to run a more efficient and effective enterprise, as well as additional solutions to make it happen, visit Website Magazine’s Analytics Insider channel at wsm.co/affiliate16.
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5 Digital Purchasing Habits to Know By Allison Howen, Associate Editor
When the original iPhone debuted nearly 10 years ago, it changed more than just how we communicate. Offering features beyond text and phone calls, the iPhone became the prototype of what a mobile phone should be. It gave users the ability to download applications customized to their interests, listen to music, browse the Web and, of course, shop online. This changed the commerce industry as a whole, as brickand-mortar shoppers started using their devices in stores to learn more about products and compare competitor prices, while online shoppers had the ability to make purchases at any time and from anywhere. The success of the iPhone and the many other smartphones that followed undoubtedly created a more connected world, which has resulted in savvier consumers and much different digital purchasing habits. Merchants are wise to learn as much as they can about today’s modern shopper, as doing so can help them optimize the digital shopping experiences they offer. While it’s always important to analyze a specific customer base, taking a look at the larger commerce trends can also be beneficial. With the holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, take a closer look at the digital purchasing habits of today’s shoppers:
Perfect Product Descriptions Discover how to create useful, compelling and engaging product descriptions at wsm.co/descript10. 18
42% of purchases occur within the first hour of a shopper’s browsing session. Q1 2016 data from Monetate reveals that a significant amount of purchases happen in the first 60 minutes following a shopper’s first visit to a website. Comparatively, just nine percent of all purchases happen in the six hours immediately following those first 60 minutes. To capitalize, retailers should optimize their sites to provide a strong first impression, including making sure their site is fast, showcases great imagery and displays trust signals (to name a few) as well as consider how to engage shoppers with longer paths to purchase. 52% of consumers who convert from a referral typically do so within 24 hours of the initial share. Extole data from this year shows that most customers
AUG UST 2016
who convert from a referral typically do so within a day (the data also showed that referrals are most commonly shared via email or social). Referred customers also have a 25 percent higher lifetime value and a three times higher conversion rate than non-referred new customers. Luckily, retailers can easily encourage referrals by including sharing functionality and offering incentives that make it simple and rewarding for their customers to recommend products and services.
87% of consumers are unlikely to ever buy
from a retailer again if they purchase an item that did not have a correct product description. Inaccurate product descriptions are a big turn off according to Shotfarm’s “Product Information Report.” The problem seems to affect online apparel retailers the most, with the study finding that 25 percent of U.S. consumers returned an item in the last year because the product information provided did not match what they purchased.
73% of consumers use their mobile phone
while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. RichRelevance’s 2016 “Creepy or Cool” survey on U.S. consumers sheds light on how consumers use their mobile phones as part of the shopping experience. According to the data, the majority of consumers use their mobile phones while shopping in-stores, with younger shoppers more likely to do so. To cater to this customer segment, retailers can encourage in-store shoppers to scan a product with their mobile device to access product reviews and recommendations for other items – a tactic that 79 percent of respondents considered “cool.”
87.5% of shoppers using PayPal to checkout ultimately convert. ComScore data shows that PayPal is better at converting online shoppers than other payment solutions. Comparatively, Visa Checkout converts online shoppers at a rate of 51.2 percent, with all other payment types converting shoppers at a rate of 45.6 percent. This proves the value in offering alternative payment options at checkout, particularly simplified and popular ones like PayPal. 38% of consumers start their shopping search on Amazon. A recent PowerReviews study reveals that a substantial amount of consumers begin their shopping search on the ecommerce marketplace, followed by 35 percent who start their shopping journey on Google. Although those are significant percentages, the study also found that 21 percent of consumers are more likely to start their search at a specific retailer while six percent start their shopping experience on other e-commerce marketplaces like eBay.
IRCE Roundup By Peter Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief
The e-commerce world descended upon Chicago in early June for IRCE, an annual conference and exhibition dedicated to Internet retailers and the services and solutions used by online (and offline) sellers in their pursuit of greater brand awareness, optimized user experience and more profits. Take a quick look at just some of the offerings that captured the attention of e-commerce merchants (and our editors) at the show and learn more about each of these companies and many others (including Aptos, Qubit, Edgecase, Stitch Labs, Advanced Pricing Logic and Targetbay) profiled in Website Magazine’s official IRCE Roundup at wsm.co/2016irce. Payoneer: A cross-border, globalfocused business-to-business payments system that provides online money transfer and e-commerce payment services. Available for more than 150 currencies and in 200 countries, Payoneer counts the likes of Google, Amazon, Upwork, Taboola, Fiverr, Airbnb and many other noteworthy brands as clients, and recently acquired Armor Payments, an escrow-as-a-service payment company that should further its dominance in the freelancer market segment. Salsify: A cloud-based content management solution that provides manufacturers, distributors and retailers the ability to create, manage, optimize and syndicate product content and digital assets from a single, central repository. As omnichannel commerce continues to capture the attention of retailers in pursuit of increasingly sophisticated customers, solutions like Salsify are poised to make a significant impact in the realm of digital retailing. Is Your Product Content Lacking? Ninety-four percent of buyers will abandon an e-commerce site if product content is deficient. Read more at wsm.co/prodcont16.
Cue Connect: An online marketing platform for digital retailers, Cue aims to keep shoppers and sellers connected during the path to purchase. The system helps retailers capture and retarget consumers with wish lists and share buttons, providing a more personalized experience that results in purchase prompts such as price alerts, special offers and birthday reminders at the point of sale. Consumer Moments of Truth Cue Connect recently published research identifying different shopping personas of millennials and the expectations and behaviors of each. Read more at wsm.co/truthmoment16. Convey: An “intelligent” fulfillment platform, Convey is focused on transforming customer delivery into a truly competitive advantage for retailers. The system essentially unifies carrier ecosystems, identifies problems before they happen (e.g., weather incidents) and facilitates those changes in real-time. For retailers looking to optimize the post-sale experience and get more from their transportation and logistics-related investments, Convey is an ideal place to start.
Recent Items from Website Magazine’s E-Commerce Express Channel: Creepy vs. Cool in Web Personalization New research from RichRelevance explores what consumers really think of personalization at wsm.co/creepcool16.
Desktop & Mobile Shopping Preferences Consumer data from Signal found that more than half (61 percent) chose desktop as their favorite way to browse for gifts at wsm.co/desktop16.
Augmented Reality in Retail E-commerce sites don’t just try to mimic the store experience, they are expanding what can even happen in the real world at wsm.co/reality16.
CASE STUDY: Stop that Redesign
How An A/B Test Revealed the “Creature of Habit” Layout By Joel Citron, Director of Advertising Technologies at Ai Media Group
Every year Web page design trends sweep across homepages, landing pages and plenty of pages in between. Businesses in every industry race to re-design their layouts in order to keep up with the most modern and, somewhat allegedly, higher-converting design of the moment. We are no exception.
A. This layout allows for more copy above the fold.
Our company ran a B2B lead generation campaign for one of our telecom clients. On this page a customer fills out a form and a sales rep calls them back. We’ve been running this campaign for numerous years with great results. While we were constantly optimizing the user experience, one thing we never touched was the form itself (12 fields with most of them being required). We, along with our client’s advertising team, felt the form was too long and that a higher conversion rate could be achieved if we shortened it. Due to continued opposition from the sales team the form always remained at 12 fields.
A FORM FIELD REDESIGN MYSTERY At long last in Q2 of 2016, the go-ahead was received to shorten the form down to the bare minimum number of fields needed to be able to close a sale. In this case, six fields were deemed crucial. This was an exciting test for us because not only were we shortening the form, which we hoped would lead to higher conversion rates, but the shorter form also allowed us to modify the layout of the landing pages as well as allowed for more content to show above the fold. We believed this new layout would also provide a better user experience (see image A). The split test we set up pit the original page layout with a long 12-field form against a new shorter six-field form on an updated page design that put more information above the fold. We used this opportunity to create an A/B test for a specific sub-segment of our campaigns (a 50/50 split that evenly and randomly sent visitors to the original long-form page or the redesigned short-form layout). Using our proprietary measurement technology, we were able to set up separate tracking for all possible lead-generation aspects of these pages, including
call tracking, chats, form starts and form fills. Every metric would be tracked back to the actual ad that was clicked. At first glance, all metrics were on target. Cost-per clicks (CPCs) were in line from one page to the other and number of clicks was evenly balanced. We fully expected our hypothesis – that a shorter form would result in more form fills – would pan out. Alas, this did not happen. After just 17 days of testing our overall conversion rate was down by 1.3 percent on the short form. Not only that, but the form fills with less information that did come through were harder for the sales team to close. Given those results, we immediately paused the test and resumed all traffic to the long form.
REDESIGN SPLIT TEST ROUND 2 With only 17 days spent in the quarter, we felt there was more than enough time left to conduct additional testing. Based on our long versus short form results we now understood that having the additional fields was actually a plus to the end-user in this vertical. The additional form fields allowed users to enter more specific information about their business, which increased their comfort level in submitting a form that they felt provided a sales rep with all the information needed to respond and help them set up a new account. For our second A/B test, we decided to focus on the page design. Knowing from our initial split test that the long form converted better, we kept it as is but relocated it from the top right of the page to directly beneath a widened and flattened full-width hero image where we believed it presented a more modern design aesthetic. We hypothesized the new combination of page elements provided the best of both worlds including a fresh new layout with all the crucial entry fields proven to support conversion rates and close sales. Once again we tracked every metric from top to bottom including phone calls, chats and form fills critical to determining the outcome of our wide form versus longform test (see images B and C). Just 12 days later we pulled the plug. Average conversion rates were down 2.5 percent from the control. Even though we could not understand why the wide-form test was failing, we could not afford to lose out on crucial leads, so all further testing was cancelled. Fast forward a few weeks and one of our other clients, a hotel chain, launched a complete redesign
of its website. It had a more modern layout with a completely new booking form. A few days after launch, our marketing manager notes a concern. Even though the average number of page views was up almost 70 percent, the number of online bookings-per- B. A wider form was also tested. click was down. While our optimization systems were able to keep the cost-per lead (CPL) in line by compensating lost form fills with more calls, our online booking CPL had risen dramatically. On average, users were viewing 20 pages more than before but were booking their hotel reservation online less. So the question begged, why?
‘CREATURE OF HABIT’ LAYOUT DISCOVERED Before the redesign, the booking form was standard fare with the same visual appearance seen all around the C. Having a longer form was a plus for industry. A small square at the top of some clients. the page above the fold that asks for the standard info. Where are you going? Check-in date. Check-out date. How many people? With the new redesign, the form had been relocated below the hero (still above the fold) and now looked completely different as a single row taking up the full width of the page. Sound familiar? Having the data from these two completely different campaigns running on entirely separate verticals, yet with the same results, allowed us to gain insight into the user’s reaction. Regardless of how “pretty” or “modern” the design, people are creatures of habit and get used to the way things are supposed to look. In this situation, they expect to see the booking form in its traditional layout at the top of the page. Changing the booking form location and appearance created uncertainty about what to do causing less online bookings and more over-the-phone bookings. Moral of the story? Test, test and test some more. Always take the average user into account and realize that just because everyone with a website is raving about a new redesign it doesn’t mean your customers will be comfortable with it, or more importantly, convert.
Mid-Year SEO Trends By Travis Bliffen, Founder of Stellar SEO
More than halfway into 2016, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the SEO efforts that are maintaining a first-page position and those that are keeping a site on the dreaded page two and beyond. For those looking to improve their efforts by year’s end, knowing the following trends will serve them well.
User Experience Google has frequently mentioned that user experience (UX) is paramount in creating a website that ranks well and for an extended time. Site speed, navigation and mobile readiness are three UX factors that webmasters can no longer overlook if they hope to rest atop the search results. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are also making an impact among sites frequently publishing new content. A great site in 2016 will give users what they want, when they want it and on their terms. A smart webmaster will take time to understand those three things and work to build a site that delivers.
16 SEO Skills Do you have what it takes for a successful career in SEO? Find out at wsm.co/careerseo.
At one time, on-page SEO came down to overusing keywords. Today’s Web professionals must take a much more holistic approach to create a well-optimized page. Schema markup, rich media, topical pages and smooth navigation between related articles are must haves for great on-page SEO in 2016. The constant flood of mediocre content has made it more challenging to create truly remarkable content but for those who manage to do so, the payoff is greater than in years past.
USER METRIC MANIPULATION SEOs are notorious for taking advantage of any potential loophole to drive rankings for client sites. User signal manipulation is a growing trend currently. Many speculate that Google looks at click-through rates, time on page and number of pages visited to determine the quality of a
website. Whether or not these signals actually impact rankings is still up for debate but marketers looking to get an edge are finding ways to manipulate these at the moment.
BLOG NETWORKS AS ASSETS The sheer mention of private blog networks (PBNs) has been known to upset marketers clinging to entirely “white hat” tactics. Currently many SEOs are building out private networks of sites that house high-quality content that is designed to rank for long-tail keywords closely related to the target terms for the primary site. While considered to be a gray or black hat tactic, this strategy combines the ranking benefits of strong backlinks with the suspected benefits of improved user engagement to create a powerful asset capable of generating traffic, leads and rankings. Users beware, this strategy can get a site into trouble if not done properly so don’t try this one at home.
INTEGRATED MARKETING CAMPAIGNS Google has redesigned its paid ad landscape a few times over the past year. Right-side ads have been eliminated, new ads have appeared above map results and chances are, this is only the beginning of what changes are to come. When referencing the above strategies, a clear trend emerges. Engagement helps earn and maintain rankings; and paid advertising, email marketing and social media marketing all help to improve user engagement. Sites relying on a single channel for traffic should take this as a wakeup call to diversify their marketing strategy in 2016.
CUSTOM TRUMPS COOKIE CUTTER Ready-made themes have served as the base for countless websites to date. Design, however, is evolving right alongside marketing strategies. A smart consumer can easily spot a cookie cutter website and in many industries, this is viewed negatively. Aside from the visual impact of template sites, how well can they really meet the unique needs of a client base? As the market progresses as a whole, working with a developer, a designer and an SEO company at the beginning of the process is much more important. Together these trends can create a look, feel and marketing strategy as unique as the clients a website serves. Gone are the days of hiring someone to “SEO” a site that is built. A great website in 2016 is purpose built and caters to the ideal client; both of which are the result of proper market research and early planning with a marketing team.
ANALYTICS Should Intent be
Weighed Heavier than Demographics? By David Allison, Hivewyre
If you (as an e-commerce site owner), however, knew when a person went to shop on a competitor’s e-commerce site for a pair of shoes (the kind you also sell) and then decided not to finish the purchase on that site, wouldn’t you want to get your e-commerce shoe store in front of this shopper to have a crack at making a sale? Of course you would. And would you care if the person on the other end of the screen (who was looking to make this purchase) was a man, woman, mother, father, 40-something or just turned 21 last week? Maybe at some level you do, so your advertising messaging could be more geared toward this particular type of consumer; but due to this user’s behavior of going to online shoe stores, it is a good chance this individual’s intent, at this very moment (perhaps with credit card next to the keyboard), is to find the right pair of shoes to purchase online. All you are asking is to have an opportunity to show what sorts of shoes you sell within your e-commerce shop. If 70 percent of people searching for video games on mobile are not 18-34 men and more than half of people searching for sports goods on mobile are women (Google, 2015), then this turns the idea of strictly using demographic data to position effective advertising for products completely on its head.
SECOND-PARTY DATA HELPS WITH INTENT
When it comes to intent, having access to secondparty data could be useful within a digital marketing tool box. A quick refresher on second-party data: it is simply another company’s first-party data made directly available for other businesses to use (in this case, other e-commerce companies). This data can be made accessible via direct partnerships, data management platforms (DMPs) or a second-party data network. So, how does second-party data help with knowing a user’s intent? As with the aforementioned fictitious
online shoe shopping example, imagine an e-commerce company had access to data that was pulled from online retail sites similar to theirs. Unlike third-party data, where one is not completely certain on the newness of the data collected, where the information is being curated from or how the demographics are being attributed to a particular user by this data, second-party data has none of these potential pitfalls. Moreover, even if the third-party data demographics were 100 percent accurate, this would not mean that these users are presently in the market for the products retailers are looking to sell them. Also, second-party data can be collected in real-time, in what are called data coops, where a bunch of similar or relational sites agree to share their first-party data (usually non-PII: non-personally-identifiable information) for the mutual benefit of all parties involved.
CORRECT MESSAGING AT THE RIGHT TIME
By not tapping into the intent of customers, retailers are leaving a large gap within their digital marketing plan that no amount of demographic data will be able to fill.
A great way to make sure retailers are effectively interacting with potential shoppers is to create a variety of different content. Blogs should not only be about pushing products to the masses, they should also be helpful, add value or be entertaining to the reader. Creating videos on a number of different topics related to a business, but not directly selling any of the retailer’s products, again is adding value and trust within the consumer base on the whole. These could be how-to videos, reviews of products, proper care for products, etc. While demographics will always be part of the equation when it comes to developing marketing and business strategies, today with the myriad amounts of analytics tools a company has access to, it’s easier than ever to ascertain the intent of customers on a site. By not tapping into the intent of customers, retailers are leaving a large gap within their digital marketing plan that no amount of demographic data will be able to fill. David Allison is the “Marketing Guy” at Hivewyre, which is an e-commerce data cooperative in Scottsdale, Arizona that deals solely in second-party data.
Demographics drive ad buys and marketing strategy; but even with the cleanest data, a good conversion rate is still fairly low for online retailers (2-4 percent average according to 2016 data from Monetate).
E-COMMERCE CX Takes a Village By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor
Of all the investments being made into e-commerce, none are more important than customer experience (CX), but there’s no single feature or vendor that can help retailers meet every shopper expectation; rather, it’s myriad solutions working together to improve the interactions shoppers have with a company from pre- to post-sale. For every dollar invested in improving CX, businesses generate three dollars in return. If that weren’t enough, those that invest in CX can expect to see an 11 percent increase in revenue within the next 12 months (Avanade, 2016). When it comes to customer experience – Forrester defines it as how customers perceive their interactions with a company – end-users are rightfully the judge and jury; and they aren’t shy about voicing what they want today, even though those expectations are likely to change tomorrow. Change is a recurring theme this year in both e-commerce and American politics. Shoppers are changing how they access brands – using mobile in droves to research, engage and buy online as well as expecting near real-time responses for service queries made on social media – while everyday citizens are considering who to vote for in the upcoming election and sharing opinions across the Web. Website Magazine of course reports on changing consumer expectations and the technology to meet them within 24
AUG UST 2016
our issue pages as well as daily online, but we also got into the political spirit recently featuring presidential candidate Donald Trump’s likeness on our July cover to complement the feature, “Lead Generation: Making It Great Again.” In fairness, Hillary Clinton is donning this month’s cover for our feature on e-commerce and the customer experience that shoppers expect and that retailers are investing in. Back in 1996 while serving as First Lady, Clinton wrote a book called, “It Takes a Village,” which focused on the impact that “individuals and groups outside the family have, for better or worse, on a child’s well-being.” In retail, there are many internal and external influences shaping decisions (what technology to invest in for the organizations themselves and for shoppers, who to buy from, endorse and remain loyal to). In order to provide the types of customer experiences shoppers expect today, it takes a combination of stakeholders who can identify, predict and respond to shifting behaviors and technology providers that can support it all. It takes a village, but stellar CX in e-commerce is attainable.
GREAT E-COMMERCE EXPECTATIONS Two-thirds of brands say competition made their organization realize the need to prioritize customer experience (Avanade, 2016). The retail industry is as complex as it is competitive. Scrappy, Web-only shops are competing with recognizable
retailers with storefronts – who are battling internally with their own legacy systems and processes – while both are struggling to figure out how to deal with Amazon (see sidebar); not to mention the brands themselves selling directly to consumers rather than their retail partners exclusively. The industry – like politics – is ripe for “disruption” as cliché as the word has become; not too unlike how President Barack Obama’s mobilization of younger voters via analytics and social media ousted Clinton for the Democratic nomination back in 2008 and ultimately, by many accounts, won him the election. Whether it’s politics or retail, everyone can do better, and we’re seeing it already in e-commerce with subscription services whose CX efforts are shaping expectations for personalization, content and convenience. Stitch Fix and LeTote (both clothing subscriptions for women), for example, offer engaging apps with style questionnaires, rating systems to provide instant and direct feedback, personalized suggestions and more, all while remembering those preferences when a person visits the website to interact with the companies instead of through the app as well as providing shoppers more content to complement their purchases. Retailers may have an idea of the complex technology stack in place to fuel those seamless experiences, but end-users certainly don’t care and aren’t afraid to spend hours (even days in some cases) finding the best shopping experience and the best bang for their buck.
THE ENDLESS VISIT Only 42 percent of purchases happen in the first 60 minutes following a shopper’s first visit, the majority happen much later (Monetate, 2016). While it would be much easier on retailers if customers came to their site, found what they were looking for and bought it on their very first visit, that’s just not how shoppers are shopping today according to recent Monetate data. Looking at more than 7 billion online shopping sessions that took place during Q1 2016, Monetate found that it’s more likely consumers will visit a site, leave, come back on another device and repeat the process for up to 48 hours before they buy. Shoppers are therefore influenced by a variety of touchpoints (e.g., search, social, email, etc.) and competitor messaging during these “endless visits” where research comes first and actual purchases sometimes never happen. The experience that is delivered to consumers within that first 48-hour window though is what will keep them engaged and ultimately confident enough to buy – any friction along that path will send them packing. Just think of how much marketing of herself and her ideas that Clinton has had to do to stay relevant for the past couple decades;
48 hours is doable for Internet retailers with the right strategies and solutions in place. Context Almost 50 percent of millennials have made a purchase based on the “suggested items” option on a retailer’s site (Cue Connect, 2016). As shoppers use their phones and visit retail sites to fill “hallow” moments as Demandware’s Head of Consumer Insights Rick Kenney describes these interactions – like while waiting for an Uber or an appointment – retailers committed to customer experience must understand that specific visit will likely be ended by a distraction rather than a conversion, and recognize shoppers when they come back to the site to research more or actually buy, whether it’s on the same device or not. The visits have to build upon each other in order to deliver products and promotions that fit the context of the visit; is it the first visit on mobile, or is it the third visit but first on desktop, or are there items in their shopping cart or have they bought before? Some content management systems and e-commerce platforms (together or alone) enable merchandisers to capture data about visitors and serve up content that will best meet their needs in that moment, which is what Acquia Lift does according to David Aponovich, senior director of digital experience at Acquia and former Forrester analyst. For example, personalization and automation features within the system can prioritize content based on whether someone is an early stage buyer versus someone who has come back to the site again and again. The Lift offering from Acquia creates a data record of all website visitors whether they are known or unknown with the goal of tracking everyone in order to build profiles. What’s impressive about Lift is that it can still track anonymous visitors (like those who have yet to make a purchase or those not signed in) and target content to them as they proceed through the site, important for today’s lengthy or endless visits. The “magic happens” however when the visitor gives the site some information – like signing in or buying something – to attach meaningful data to their profile record. “A lot of people talk about personalization and delivering contextual experiences but not enough organizations are doing it,” said Aponovich. “By using Lift, it’s a great way to aggregate data because it’s tied so closely to CMS and the Access expert strategy for using marketdelivery of content.” places like Amazon to complement your Data can also be pulled retail experience at wsm.co/managemarket. into Acquia Lift from other sources like a customer re-
lationship management (CRM) solution to help deliver a custom Web experience that goes far beyond a static one where everyone sees the same thing. Site Search When Demandware analyzed the shopping activity of more than 400 million shoppers worldwide, the commerce platform found that the use of color descriptors in on-site searches grew 22 percent year over year (YOY) with “black” and “white” accounting for the top color-included keywords. What this indicates, according to Kenney of Demandware, is that shoppers know that site search should work as intended and should help accelerate each visit. Even though they are willing to spend days looking for the perfect product, shoppers want quick access to the exact item they are looking for when it comes time to buy or even research on a competitor’s site. So while shoppers are less likely to invest a lot of time in each visit (time on site has decreased for both mobile and desktop visits), they are coming back more often and The mobile cart is expecting functions like search to aid them in the new wish list. discovery. It indicates the maturation of shoppers and their expectations. Site search is an important investment for retailers to make and a leader in this area is Coveo, which has a partnership with CMS provider Sitecore. The self-learning site search app from Coveo for Sitecore “automatically learns from visitor behavior, tunes relevance and recommends relevant content,” so even site searches that aren’t as specific as “black dress” can help retailers understand what customers really want and surface the most relevant content to each visitor.
Content Seventy-eight percent of shoppers want products to be brought to life with images and 69 percent want product reviews (Bigcommerce, 2016). When a person moves through a retail website they are searching and filtering for items they want to learn more about. Once they get to a product page, it’s up to the retailer to include as much information about the product as they can for the shopper to feel comfortable purchasing the item. Reviews have longed played an important role in buyer confidence – as this user-generated content is more trusted than anything a brand can pubDiscover how specialized packaging lish – but getting reviews can can encourage social shares and prove difficult. Get some best more sales in a Q&A with Dotcom Dispractices for creating emails that generate more reviews at tribution’s CEO at wsm.co/extendexp. wsm.co/3askreview.
Extend the Experience
Carts Shopping carts are a key part of a customer’s journey, specifically for those on endless visits. Demandware recommends “persisting the basket,” so that a person’s shopping cart is available for the next time they visit the site whether it’s on desktop or mobile. It’s about being smarter with each page view because most mobile visits are fleeting and shoppers are creating more baskets (Demandware reported a 20 percent increase over the prior year) as a way to track their own interest. The mobile cart is the new wish list, according to Kenney, so it’s important that its contents remain available for at least a full 30 days. During this time, plenty of re-engagement campaigns can be initiated to give shoppers a little nudge. For instance, thanks to its acquisition of marketing automation provider Bronto, retailers using NetSuite can create a re-engagement workflow that includes such triggers as sending an email to people who looked at the site 3-4 times but didn’t buy anything or a promotional code to someone who viewed the same item multiple times but had yet to purchase. And, according to Bronto research some shoppers are even creating baskets just to bait retailers to incentivize them to complete their purchases. Despite shoppers “basketing” more on mobile, conversions are typically not taking place there. Monetate reports that when browsing starts on mobile, 64 percent of those purchases occur on the same device compared to when browsing starts on desktop, 99 percent of those purchases occur on desktop. While we know that shoppers are typically just killing time on mobile devices, this data is still a red flag that mobile users are experiencing some friction and choose to abandon their visits rather than purchase the items being viewed. There are some initiatives that can make this final part of the funnel much easier, including mobile payments. Mobile/Social Payments Use of solutions including Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Visa Checkout and OneTouch from PayPal haven’t reached critical mass yet, but they are useful in helping shoppers pay quickly and in a hassle-free way, and that merits the attention of sellers. E-commerce experts expect that when Apple Pay comes to the mobile Web (via Safari on the iPhone, iPad and Mac) it will have a material impact on mobile conversions. Expected to be ready before 2016’s holiday shopping season, Apple Pay on iOS (the operating system that dominates a 65 percent share of mobile traffic according to Demandware) can reduce some of the friction mobile Web users have when trying to checkout, and may even encourage more visitors to actually start the checkout process because they don’t have to fumble for their credit cards and can fill out less form fields. While Apple Pay will no doubt accelerate conversions for those browsing on their mobile devices, where the industry could use even more innovation is incorporating social payments. Venmo is a popular social payments app, which
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allows friends/family/acquaintances to pay each other. Their transactions then appear in a news feed similar to nearly all other social networks. The first e-commerce platforms to allow for a Venmo integration with mobile browsing would have an “in” with the younger generations who are using Venmo to pay roommates their share of utilities or even split the costs of a restaurant bill or – even better for retailers – chip in for gifts. Imagine browsing for a gift on an iPhone and then charging friends for their share through Venmo. A Seattle-based startup called Gift Starter offers something similar in that its concept is around “group gifting.” Shoppers search for a gift (from its curated selection), find the perfect one, decide how many slots are available for people to pitch in (like 20 slots for a $100 gift or 10 slots for a $50 gift) and then Gift Starter creates a campaign (think GoFundMe) to fill the slots, and ultimately sends the person the gift once it’s fulfilled. Gift Starter also offers a gift concierge who can guide shoppers to find the perfect gift or help them start their campaign – a feature not isolated to this company. Guided Shopping Whether it’s through site search or live chat, shoppers are entering queries (often using natural language) to get answers throughout the Web and some retailers are delivering that experience better than others by proactively guiding shoppers to what they need. Many retailers are turning to live chat as a way to “greet” or engage customers who are new to the site, are spending a certain amount of time on a particular page or are about to leave. The more common approach is to simply have live chat available for customers to use as they wish, which seems less intrusive to many but could leave money on the table. Moxie, a provider of customer engagement software, finds that engaged customers (those who participate with a chat either on their own accord or through proactive service) convert 28 percent higher than non-engaged customers (who don’t chat). Further, customers who chat with a brand versus on the phone, convert at a three percent higher rate. One of the benefits of Moxie in particular is how it can recognize certain customer behaviors or characteristics to proactively serve the most appropriate content and suggestions while anticipating needs. For example, if a person enters an invalid promotional code, Moxie can serve a valid one so that the conversion is not lost. Another example is immediately firing off a password reset email if a person is struggling to log in. These pre-set rules are going to dictate how brands serve customers in the future like bots (software that runs automated tasks) being used in Facebook Messenger as a way to more quickly respond to those seeking support from customer service teams on the social media network. This is important considering one in three people use social media
as the first place they contact a brand when they have an issue, but of the brands that do respond, they keep customers waiting an average of 11 hours (Sprout Social, 2016).
DELIVERING ON THE PROMISES Forty-six percent of respondents expect companies to deliver faster than they did a year ago (Dropoff, 2016). Whether it’s a first visit or a fifth that gets a shopper to convert, the customer experience doesn’t end at product selection and fulfillment of those orders is playing a significant role in CX today, from inventory to shipping options. “Shoppers aren’t interested in the complexities behind the scenes,” said Shane Desrochers, vice president of digital commerce and retail analytics at Aptos. “What they do care about, however, is that products are available to them when and where they want to buy them, and it’s up to the retailer – and their tech stack – to make that happen.” Using a solution suite like Aptos allows retailers to have “one version of truth for customers products and orders” to make sure they can respond to customers smartly regardless of how they want to interact with a company, such as pulling up past online purchase history in-store or providing accurate inventory levels to an online shopper who wants to pick up at the nearest brick-and-mortar location. Transparency of inventory is not limited to Aptos, of course, and a pretty innovative fulfillment option emerged this year in NetSuite’s Intelligent Order Management, which uses algorithms to give end-users the best scenario for an order like how to get it the quickest and lower shipping costs – all defined by the customer at checkout. Stitch Labs should also be on a retailer’s radar as the platform syncs their inventory with sales channels, accounting software, and shipping and fulfillment channels so that retailers have a clear view all in one place of how much specific inventory they have/need going in and out of various channels. With all the parts in play, it’s these software solutions whose aim is “transparency” and even self-service across channels that can really help retailers tie their CX together.
THE RESULTS ARE IN Even with the consolidation that is happening on the Web today (think Salesforce buying Demandware, Microsoft picking up LinkedIn, or any of the other recent mergers and acquisitions), many retailers are running their organizations on myriad solutions working together to improve the interactions shoppers have with a company from pre- to post-sale. While there is complexity in that, those that are investing in software to improve CX – whether it’s through more relevant content, better site search or improved fulfillment options – are the retailers who will trump the competition.
EXPERIENCE Bigger Isn’t Always Better
When It Comes to Email Lists By Marci Hansen, Co-Founder & CMO of SheerID
When it comes to an email marketing list, size shouldn’t be what matters most. Although upper management and potential partners may be impressed by sheer volume, the real value of a list should be measured by how actively engaged its subscribers are.
each email, give subscribers opportunities to update their preferences regularly. Let them select which topics they’re interested in hearing more about, and allow them to choose how often they want to receive emails. Keeping marketing permission based and offering options not only decreases spam reports, it makes it easier to present the right content at the right time.
Click-through rates (CTRs), conversion rates and average revenue per subscriber are more important than the number of email addresses a marketing list contains. Instead of voraciously collecting new names and blasting them with frequent emails, marketers should focus on optimizing the lifetime value of the customers on their lists by offering relevant content and fostering loyalty. Over 205 billion emails are sent and received per day, according to the Radicati Group. With those massive numbers, only the best and most strategic emails are going to be welcomed, opened and responded to. Although Bluehornet found that the number one reason shoppers initially subscribe to email lists are to get discounts and free shipping, those offers and those offerloving customers need to be managed carefully. Deals may produce a high conversion rate among new subscribers, but relying too heavily on discounts for motivation can train loyal customers to wait for the best bargain instead of purchasing items at full price. Hitting an email list too often with similar sale messaging can also backfire, resulting in list fatigue. A decrease in opens, clicks and conversions as well as an increase in unsubscribes and spam reports are symptoms of list fatigue. Instead of simply looking at each email as a potential transaction, focus on creating complete email campaigns that resonate with customers. By cultivating relationships with a company’s core consumer base, marketers can inspire brand loyalty and increase repeat purchases, turning casual shoppers into brand super fans. The value of a super fan goes beyond their lifetime spend, as they are a brand’s ambassadors among their family and friends, on social media networks and in their local communities. A small list of engaged super fans will deliver better results than a large list suffering from email fatigue.
LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS
FORM SELF-MANAGED RELATIONSHIPS Instead of simply following the letter of the law and including a tiny unsubscribe link at the bottom of
While they’re updating their preferences, give customers a chance to include some basic personal information. Asking optional questions like “When is your birthday?” provides data marketers can use to create a more personalized customer experience. Having quick access to this info makes it possible to add a personal touch, like sending a special promo code as a birthday present to a subscriber during their birthday month.
SEGMENT BY AFFILIATION Many savvy marketing pros segment their customers according to their purchase history. Examples of these types of emails include product suggestions based on past purchases, incentives for previous shoppers who haven’t purchased recently or free shipping for someone who left an item in their cart without completing the purchase. It is also possible to segment customers more broadly by geography, browser type or affiliation. Segmenting customers by affiliation type, like student, military or teacher allows enterprises to create multi-faceted email campaigns with exclusive discounts, targeted messaging, themed landing pages and relevant product selections that give customers the sense that a brand shares the same values they do.
MAKE IT PERSONAL In addition to segmenting by affiliation, using a subscriber’s name in the subject line or body of the email gives it a personal touch that makes customers respond positively. Personalization tools are widely available and come included in many email marketing platforms, but the majority of marketers aren’t using them. Using these tips and doing them well creates relevant content without relying on the same discount message. If marketers are consistently delivering quality content to opted-in subscribers at their preferred frequency, then their rate of engagement, click throughs and conversions will be high. A U GU ST 2016
Helping Users Recover from Errors By Martin Greif, SiteTuners
A site should be relatively error-free. The operative word there is “relatively.”
like The Moffats – annoying, but they are hardly ever seen, and most people don’t know them.
Having zero errors is unreasonable – setting aside the fact that it’s tough to get everything right internally, errors on a site happen because of external reasons, too:
405 and 417: method not allowed, and expectation failed. For errors, these are the independent bands a neighbor hipster likes; one really needs to dig quite a bit find them, but when they do encounter them, they’re terrible.
People mistype things all the time
1. Be descriptive
Visitors shouldn’t have to think about what a 404 or a 401 is; brands should tell them what went wrong in plain and simple language. In other words, don’t do what blogger.com does (see image A); do something closer to what Nielsen does (see image B). Web professionals might know the difference between a 404 and a 405, but most visitors probably don’t work in online marketing. They don’t and shouldn’t have to care about the field’s jargon; companies should apologize to them about the error in layman’s terms, then try and earn back their trust.
2. Remind the visitor why they like you
2. Remind Them Why They Like You
Sites link to you the wrong way some of the time Site owners and the staff they employ should definitely try their best to minimize errors. That said, when they do get served up on a site, the error pages should be helpful, and they should gain back some of the trust lost. There are four core principles to creating error pages that help users recover:
3. Help the users with their tasks 4. Let the user conduct searches A. A 404-page “don’t.”
1. Be Descriptive Immediately let the user know what went wrong Error pages on the Web typically contain these items: 404: this is the page not found. It is the Justin Bieber of error pages, the one that people recognize and hate. 401: this tells you that you’re not authorized to view the page. This is more
B. A 404-page “do.” 30
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Add branding if it works to recover trust A lot of brands think of well-designed error pages as “cute” 404 pages. That’s not exactly the case. You can be “memorable” if it fits the brand, as Blue Fountain Media shows (image C). Granted, most brands aren’t going to get away with that type of branding. It only works because it fits with the branding of a site designed for a slightly more techsavvy crowd, and the 404 Pacman game actually makes visitors think about the site’s Web design, which is what the company is all about, after all. Likewise, LEGO can get away with a memorable 404 page (see image D). For everyone else, brands probably shouldn’t bank on getting away with a page like those. Remember, by the time the user processes a 404 page, they’re annoyed, and they trust the site less. The
C. A 404 page for tech savvy visitors.
D. LEGO’s 404 page is memorable and on-brand.
E. Toyota offers popular navigation options on 404s.
F. Booking.com adds search functionality to its 404s.
rule of thumb is, only brand an error page if it’ll help to recover user trust. For those of us whose websites are not about iconic toy building blocks, the error page needs to do one thing really well: help users recover.
little bit more involved (see image F). Whatever form the search box takes, if marketers combine it with the common paths a user is likely to take, they’ll increase the chances of visitors sticking around after they’ve hit a snag.
3. Help Users with Their Tasks
Putting It All Together
Provide common paths Let’s talk about visitor recovery. The way brands can help users recover from errors is by providing them paths to things they are likely to need. That is, lead them to common paths used on the site. Ideally, this would be backed by Web analytics data for a site’s top pages, or a survey tool for the top user tasks. Toyota, for example, does pretty well with providing possible tasks for the user (see image E). Marketers should know what actions users typically take on a site, and provide paths to those. If done well, they should see the exit rate on 404 pages go down, which will mean that they’re helping users recover from errors.
Marketers should absolutely track how many errors their website serves, and try and limit that number.
4. Let Them Search Embed a search box Sometimes marketers can provide plain links to the top pages and tasks, and that will be enough for users to find what they need. Other times, when they want something a bit more complex, they need more help than that. That’s where the search box comes in. The search box can be a Google-type appliance on a site. It can be a search bar above or below the common paths. Or, in the case of Booking.com, it’s something a
Do periodic checks of internal links, and fix any broken ones Likewise, check for link rot. Ensure that the proper 301 redirects are in place for permanent URL changes and 302 redirects are there for temporary URL changes. For those errors that marketers cannot control, they need to help their users recover. If you apologize and let the users know what happened in language that they can easily understand, remind them why they went to you in the first place, provide paths to the most commonly used pages or tasks on the website and allow them to use search without leaving the error page, you’re that much more likely to help users recover. That means you still get a shot at getting them to convert. Martin Greif brings 25-plus years of sales and marketing experience to SiteTuners, where he is responsible for driving revenue growth, establishing and nurturing partner relationships and creating value for SiteTuners’ broad customer base.
Replatforming ‘Gotchas’ for Internet Retailers By Thom O’Leary, President of FIXER Group Consulting
The decision to replatform an e-commerce system doesn’t not come lightly as it’s usually debated, researched and budgeted across multiple teams and departments. Anyone who has implemented new software knows, however, they’re not out of the woods yet. Failing to prepare for these nine “gotchas” can torpedo a whole project.
1) PRODUCT SETUP WILL TAKE LONGER THAN YOU EXPECT Retailers with more than 500 SKUs, who work with a 3PL for fulfillment, who use any kind of enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution or sell (or want to sell) through third-party marketplaces like Amazon need to tackle their product integration first. If a company has 10 products with no size or color variations, sure, it could manually update all its product info in a new platform. But what happens to the retailer with 200, 1,000, 10,000 or even 100,000 SKUs? If a retailer’s product list is too big to manually enter within two workdays, they will need to create maps between spreadsheets or systems, test the import process and clean their dirty data (again and again). While porting over properly formatted product and inventory data usually “takes three clicks,” the prep to get there can take weeks or months. Don’t underestimate the time required to do this. Customizable products? Resizable products? Multiple warehouses? Deal with products first. 32
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2) GIFT CARD INTEGRATION USUALLY ISN’T EASY If a retailer already has a gift card program, if they have store location(s) and an online presence, or if they want to integrate gift cards in any way…they’ll need to start investigating early. Not all payment gateways are compatible with all gift card systems, and if retailers are mixing online and offline gift cards or physical and electronic cards, they’ll need to decide which system controls the program and make sure it works across all channels. Since there are card balances held “on the books,” retailers will need to get their accounting team involved, which can be trickier than it sounds.
3) MOLD IN THE WALLS Transitioning from an older or proprietary platform to an open source or enterprise platform is a lot like renovating an old house (and it’s not as simple as they make it look on TV, even DIY shows). If retailers are connecting any systems they currently use with a new platform, they are at risk. Some older e-commerce systems are held together by duct tape and hope, but look fine from the exterior. They may even operate effectively within certain circumstances. This is where a thorough discovery process by a replatforming team and someone with inhouse institutional knowledge are key to success. There are ways to mitigate surprises in replatforming, but there is always a risk that a simple connection between two systems could require a much more extensive fix than expected. Exploration/sandboxing
4) DOES IT REALLY INTEGRATE? As part of an e-commerce replatforming plan, retailers probably already mapped out every system that connects to every other system, but they won’t know (at least truly) if they will all play nice until they try. Take a vendor’s word at face value too; what they may call an “integration” may not be the same as a retailer’s definition. When possible, see a live demo with a real client’s site to make sure it works the way retailers expect it to. Case in point: “Yes, our payment gateway is 100 percent compatible with your new platform… we even have an extension for it.” Problem: “We thought you understood that all your customers would be redirected to a different site to complete their payment.”
5) HOLIDAYS One of the first decisions in an e-commerce replatforming project is deciding the deadline, but the oftenoverlooked “gotcha” is every holiday and busy season between now and then. Launching a new platform immediately before a large traffic event, big planned sale or critical sales period (think…Christmas) is generally not recommended, even with thorough testing and quality assurance (QA). Likewise, retailers should anticipate work slow-downs, inability to reach key decision-makers for key decisions and generally slower progress over the holidays. Working with a foreign development team? Better know their holiday schedules, too. Not every country celebrates the same holidays on the same dates.
6) THERE IS SOME STUFF YOU REALLY CAN’T TEST For the most part, retailers can conduct thorough quality assurance (QA) testing before a new platform goes live, but they can’t test everything. Sometimes real-world conditions can’t be replicated in a development environment, and some problems don’t rear their heads until the new platform is live. If retailers are working with a good development team, they can confirm settings are good to go, or set up sandbox implementations so retailers can get as close as possible, but you do need to have some contingency plans in place for launch in case something hits the fan. Potentially untestable elements can range from live systems that can only plug into one e-commerce platform at a time (like ERPs and payment gateways) to systems and programs that are URL dependent and prevent testing (e.g., dev.yoursite.com and www.yoursite.com).
7) OPPORTUNITY COSTS Retailers shouldn’t underestimate the operational strain that focusing on a major future project can put on current projects unless a team’s time is carefully structured. That double-digit year-over-year (YOY) growth may slow when star employees are spending 50 percent of their time prepping for the new platform.
8) IT STARTS TO GET FUN Even for intently goal-oriented people, it’s possible to get caught up in the exciting possibilities that come along with a replatforming project. When moving from a limited system to a shiny new system with massive potential, it can be easy to put too much focus on the technology versus focusing on business solutions. Replatforming opens up new possibilities for features, plugins and cool gadgets, but getting caught up in expanding the platform (before it’s even launched) can distract from achieving the core business goals. Trying to add every new idea ahead of launch is a surefire way to experience de- When moving from lays, so think in terms of phases (even if a limited system to a “phase 2” is a week after launch).
9) YOU NEED A BUS MANUAL
shiny new system with massive potential, it can be easy to put too much focus on the technology versus focusing on business solutions.
It can be a great thing to press the pedal to the floor and barrel full speed ahead in a project, but one of the biggest gotchas in replatforming is not creating a “bus manual.” Simply put, a bus manual is the document the team can refer to if the person/people who know everything about the project get hit by a bus, win the lotto or are abducted by aliens. Constructing the document during the process adds only 5-10 percent to the overall time/attention burden, but it can save hours upon hours in the end. If retailers don’t create a manual, they’ll be inventing the wheel every time they need to do something post-launch (when time will already be stretched). Likewise, a manual will pay off in security, efficiency and cost savings in the short term and for years into the future.
GOOD LUCK! Start early, plan thoroughly and work with someone who has done it before. If something is going to break, break it with months of leeway. If a system just isn’t going to work for you, find out before you build your whole project around it.
is necessary, especially for those keeping some legacy systems and connecting them with new systems.
9 Apps for Web Pros By Allison Howen, Associate Editor
There’s an app for everything, but most aren’t worth the screen space. To help busy Web professionals filter out the winners from the losers, Website Magazine has curated a list of nine apps that are worthy of regular use. Learn more about these apps below: Adobe Comp CC: iOS Adobe Comp CC enables designers to create layout concepts for mobile, Web and even print. The app supports iPad gestures, Typekit fonts and enables users to leverage assets stored in Creative Cloud Libraries. Design concepts can also be sent to Adobe InDesign CC, Adobe Illustrator CC or Adobe Photoshop CC so designers can add finishing touches to their concepts from the desktop.
Invite by Microsoft: iOS Invite makes it easier for business professionals to organize meetings when away from the office. Users simply suggest meeting times and invite attendees who then have the ability to select the best time that works for them, and can even see what options work for others.
Flare by GoDaddy: Android and iOS Flare is a community collaboration app that enables users to share business ideas and receive guidance from other entrepreneurs and industry experts. Web professionals using the app can get insights into the validity of their startup ideas and connect and build relationships with other professionals.
Primer by Google: Android and iOS Primer gives users “on-the-go” marketing tips from Google. The app features five-minute digital marketing lessons, as well as interactive activities that can help users learn often complicated concepts quickly. The Primer lessons cover advertising, content, measurement and strategy, with new lessons being added weekly.
Shopkey by Shopify: iOS Shopify merchants should definitely download the Shopkey app, which enables them to better serve their customers via SMS. The e-commerce keyboard app gives Shopify merchants access to their product catalog across all messaging and social apps, which is very beneficial since messaging apps are quickly becoming a popular customer service channel.
LinkedIn Lookup: Android and iOS Lookup is just one of the many mobile app offerings from LinkedIn (recently acquired by Microsoft). The app helps professionals find, learn about and contact their coworkers. According to the social network, just 38 percent of professionals find their companies’ intranets effective at helping them learn about their coworkers, and 58 percent say they could do their job better if they could find coworkers with specific skills.
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock: Android and iOS Getting a good night’s sleep is important for any business professional, and the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock can help users do just that. The app tracks a user’s sleep patterns and wakes them up in their lightest sleep phase. What’s more, the premium version of the app offers online backup of sleep data, long term trend comparison, sleep notes and more.
Adobe Spark Post: iOS Create social content while on the move with the Adobe Spark Posts app. The app enables users to turn photos and text into attractive graphics that can then be shared on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Plus, the app offers professionally designed templates, themes and hand-picked fonts.
Send by Microsoft: Android and iOS Take the length and conventionalism out of emails by leveraging the Send app to streamline communications. With Send, Office 365 users can quickly send text-message like emails to their co-workers, with no subject line or formal email composition required.
There’s an app for that… Looking for more apps to download? Head over to ApplicationMagazine.com for reviews on some of the mobile world’s top apps.
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| email@example.com A U GU ST 2016
3 Steps to Turn
SELFIES INTO SALES By Susan Agudo, Nicho
Selfies – photographs that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone and uploaded to social media – have been described as a “social phenomenon.” People love selfies and others hate them, but regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall under, it’s undeniable that selfies and other user-generated content (UGC) are powerful assets that can be leveraged across a brand’s marketing efforts to convert customers. Turning selfies into sales, which may seem like an overwhelming undertaking to some, can actually be broken down into three manageable steps: adapting to selfie social phenomenon, utilizing unique, branded hashtags to foster community and incorporating selfies and other UGC into existing marketing efforts. Here are three actionable steps modern marketers can take to up their UGC game:
1) ACCEPT AND EMBRACE SELFIES This may sound like it’s stating the obvious, but accepting selfies’ place in today’s society and embracing the potential they have to elevate marketing efforts is fundamental. 36
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But selfies are just a fad, right? Brands are often reluctant to incorporate selfies and other UGC into their marketing efforts because they don’t see the value or simply due to fear of the unknown. Once brands start to incorporate selfies and UGC, however, they will very quickly be able to see the value. According to a study conducted by Georgia Institute of Technology, selfies and photos with people’s faces drive almost 40 percent more engagement. It’s clear that selfies aren’t going anywhere: technology, accessibility to smartphones and the widespread use of various social media platforms have ensured this. Why should I care about using selfies? Today’s always-connected shoppers consume media on a whole new level and it has changed how they expect to engage with brands. As a result, brands have been forced to evolve in how they interact with their customers. Selfies and UGC have given customers an insatiable thirst for authentic content, but they still don’t want to be sold to; rather, they seek experiences. Ever notice that there seems to be a collective grumbling across the World Wide Web whenever a platform makes an announcement about incorporating advertising into users’ social feeds? The biggest complaint is often that ads will “ruin the experience.” There is much to be said about the fact that many have become so desensitized to
ads that our minds automatically block them out or we scroll past them without a second thought, leaving them to be, more often than not, an ineffective nuisance. Not convinced yet? With an overwhelming majority of people trusting UGC over traditional advertising, creating authentic experiences is no longer a luxury or novelty reserved for brands with big budgets, but a necessity for all brands in order to remain relevant. The customer journey is no longer about methodically moving them through the funnel, but about creating seamless brand experiences from online to real life, and cultivating community.
2) PROMOTE A UNIQUE, BRANDED HASHTAG TO FOSTER COMMUNITY AND TURN FANS INTO CHAMPIONS FOR YOUR BRAND Social media humanizes brands and allows them to communicate with customers like never before. Many brands have already invested time and resources to create content for their social channels, but can expand reach and engagement much further by promoting unique, branded hashtags. Why use a branded hashtag? Do a quick Google search for #beyhive or #belieber and see what you find. The music industry in particular is prevalent in creating communities so engaged and tightknit that names have been created specifically for artists’ fan bases, such as Beyoncé’s “Bey Hive” and Justin Bieber’s “Beliebers.” For more traditional business endeavors, a branded hashtag will allow customers to join the conversation and conversely, lets brands discover what customers are saying about them. Giving people a central place (the branded hashtag) to share a common interest (the brand) cultivates community and strengthens brand loyalty. Show the love. Customers are a brand’s biggest fans and it’s common to see people proudly post selfies displaying products and declaring love for their favorites. Brands that show appreciation or give recognition to those championing them gives fans a feeling of elevated status and validation. Showing appreciation or recognition to fans can manifest
itself like commenting on a fan’s post or re-posting a fan picture. Simple gestures such as these go a long way to strengthen brand loyalty and increase the chances that a fan will shout out the brand again across their own personal networks.
3) ELEVATE MARKETING EFFORTS WITH USER-GENERATED CONTENT Who better to create content for your target market than your target market? Eighty-four percent of millennials say that UGC influence what they buy according to Bazaarvoice. Think of UGC as a recommendation from a trusted friend – when deciding on which brand to buy, or what restaurant to eat at, people more often than not call on friends’ experiences and rely on testimonials of real people. In fact, 59 percent of people consult UGC before even making a purchase (crowdtap, 2015). How or where would I use selfies in my marketing? By incorporating selfies and other UGC into brand marketing efforts, content that potential customers look for to justify their purchase is already right in front of them. Nothing is more compelling than to showcase your fans’ own images of them using your product, on your website – and even more so when directly linking fan images to product pages or positioning the fan content right by the product’s “Buy” button. In fact, people spend six percent more when UGC is on a brand’s website according to Pixlee. These images truly bring brands to life by providing a narrative – told by real life people talking authentically about your brand.
DON’T FORGET TO ASK Using selfies and other UGC doesn’t have to stop at a brand’s website. It’s becoming increasingly common to request rights to UGC so that those assets can be used in ad campaigns, emails or in-store displays. Brands have seen that ads that feature UGC have outperformed ads without it by an average of 25 percent according to AdAge. There are many resources and social media aggregation tools available for brands that make incorporating user content on brand websites and, just as important, requesting rights for UGC easier than ever. Susan Agudo is the accounts and planning supervisor at Nicho, a visual marketing platform that brings branded and user-generated content into one place.
Meet the Newest Social Media Darling Live video has taken social networks by storm. See which networks are supporting the format better than others at wsm.co/livein16.
ADVERTISING 1. ELIMINATING POTENTIAL FOR ERROR
Header Bidding Levels the Playing Field for Online Publishers By Darline Jean, PulsePoint
Ask many of today’s digital publishers what their biggest challenges are and you’ll likely hear a common refrain: growing their audience while producing high-quality editorial content in a very competitive environment.
Header bidding allows them to get the highest possible CPM for the most in-demand audiences.
While the editorial side is focusing on creating content to engage and grow their user base, heads of sales are tasked with increasing display ad revenues by an aggressive percent, and they’re wondering how they’re going to hit that goal in today’s marketplace. As brands continue to allocate a chunk of their ad buying programmatically, both through real-time bidding (RTB) and guaranteed deals, it is becoming increasingly important for publishers to balance a mixture of directsold and programmatic premium inventory, ensuring maximum fill and high cost per thousands (CPMs). For publishers to improve their inventory performance – and help advertisers achieve the best performance through programmatic – they need a level playing field. Fortunately, programmatic has evolved to the point where publishers finally have a choice with header bidding, a technique that helps publishers hit those lofty revenue goals in three key ways. .com
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The waterfall (where direct ad buys come before programmatic buys) was the earliest and still remains the most common programmatic implementation method used, even though waterfalling has shown that publishers don’t always get the highest amount offered for impressions. Furthermore, discrepancies are commonplace and dedicated teams are required to manage complicated ad trafficking processes. And despite the fact that the waterfall was designed to help the publisher access more sources of revenue, the demand-side platforms (DSPs) actually hold much of the power. By its nature, the waterfall simply can never offer the best programmatic performance. Header bidding reduces these complexities, so discrepancies are minimized.
2. PROMOTING COMPETITION
Header bidding allows publishers to offer an ad impression to all of their demand partners at the same time before the server makes an ad call. This eliminates the waterfall, thereby generating greater competition among demand partners, which results in higher CPMs and fewer unsold impressions for publishers who are attracting desirable audiences.
3. MAXIMIZING IMPRESSION VALUE
In addition to creating engaging content and driving a user base, the important thing to a publisher is getting the greatest value for their impressions. The biggest benefit of header bidding is that it gives the publisher the opportunity to derive maximum revenue for each ad impression. A core value behind programmatic is that the end-user who sees the ad carries as much value as the site displaying the ad itself. When these users arrive at a publisher’s site, the publisher should profit. Header bidding allows them to get the highest possible CPM for the most in-demand audiences. Because some campaigns are only running on some DSPs/monetization platforms, without connecting to all of these sources, publishers are simply missing out. Programmatic should be used as a strategic approach to monetization, and can supplement a direct sales team or be the sole monetization strategy, depending on the size and uniqueness of content. For those who are aiming to receive higher yield, it’s time to build a strategic monetization approach that includes programmatic. Header bidding levels the playing field so that publishers are able to finally experience the benefits that programmatic technology had previously only been able to promise. Darline Jean is the chief operating officer for PulsePoint where she is responsible for shaping product strategy focused on enhancing the company’s premium programmatic and content marketing solutions.
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COMMENTARY Startup Success:
How to Choose a Business Partner By Corey Bray, CEO and Founder of LegalNature.com
Almost one in three small businesses fail within their critical first two years and more than 50 percent will fail within the first five years according to Gallup.
plements and adds to your skill set, then they will need to invest time. Your partner should have a specific role and they should be willing to fulfill that role.
The main reason for such high failure rates is lack of experience. As an entrepreneur, the best way for you to combat your lack of experience is by choosing the right business partner. A business partner will be the most important relationship that your “work life” will ever have and should be someone that will offset your qualities and bring different strengths to the table. Most highgrowth companies start with two or more people pooling their resources to achieve common goals. And that’s difficult. It is hard to find someone that is the perfect balance of traits, experience and values to yours, but asking these four questions can help.
Business partners may bring with them valuable contacts that can lead to sales. For instance, if you have just come up with a new and innovative business solution, your new partner may bring contacts to company heads who will jump at the idea. Your new partner can use their previous relationships with these company leaders to secure new business contracts for your company.
Do they have a complementary skill set? The old adage “look within yourself first” applies here. Your first step in finding someone with a complementary skill set is to figure out what your skill set is. You can only do that by being honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Often, people will pick partners who are clones of themselves. Other times, they pick people who are so different from themselves that they are in constant conflict. Find someone who complements your skills, not contrasts with them.
Are they able to invest time and money? Not every potential partner will have the personal resources to invest as much into the company as you have, but they should be willing to invest as much as they can afford. When lenders and venture capitalists see that your partner is substantially invested in your company, it makes them more willing to invest their money. On the flip side, a partner should also be willing to invest time into the business. If you have followed my first tip and found someone that com40
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Are they able to bring new business or leads?
Do your goals and vision align? How do you want your company to look down the road? Make sure that the person whom you are considering as a business partner has business goals that are aligned with yours. In other words, you should both want to create the same thing. Remember, it is better to find out upfront that you don’t have the same business goals than when you have signed an agreement and have all of your equity on the line. Furthermore, you may want the same thing, but have different ideas about how to get it. If the person values fast profits over quality while you value quality and customer service over profits, you may eventually have a tug-of-war over which route to take to achieve your shared business goals. In many ways, having a business partner is a marriage of sorts. You will be spending a lot of time with this person, so you need many of the same things that you would need in a good marriage. You need to dig very deep to know who this person really is before you decide to enter into a relationship with them. Sometimes, this means asking some very difficult questions. If you ask the important questions before you enter into business with this person though, you can prevent a lot of the headaches that can plague your partnership and jeopardize the future of your business later.
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