Friday, November 17, 2017 by Shayla Price
5 Examples of Inspired Ecommerce Holiday CampaignsThe holiday shopping season is here! From the latest fashion apparel to the hottest tech gadgets, consumers desire the best gifts to celebrate the upcoming festivities. Now is your time to ramp up your marketing campaigns. But before you do, William Harris, content lead at Sellbrite, offers some advice: “The first step in developing any successful marketing campaign for your ecommerce store is to first think about your goals. If you don’t know why you’re launching a campaign or what you’re hoping to get from it, it’s virtually impossible to determine whether your campaign brought your business any sort of value in the end.” With a goal in mind, you can take the next step toward boosting your sales. Here are five holiday campaigns to inspire your audience.
1. Target: Gift GuidesIt’s the season of giving. For the everyday shopper, the holidays are a time to show their loved ones how much they care. Therefore, their shopping will focus on purchasing gifts that bring joy to their humble grandmothers, talkative college friends, and funny spouses. For businesses, this attitude of gratitude should present itself in your campaigns. Tuck away the marketing collateral that spotlights the buyers and bring out the websites emphasizing products for the giftee. Gift guides are an effective way to satisfy your consumers. Categorizing your products makes it easier for buyers to locate the perfect gift, while also ensuring the recipient gets an item that fits their interests. Well-known brand Target implements this strategy for its online store. With a click of a button, shoppers can locate gifts for kids and pets—and items under a specific budget. When creating gift guides, think about who will receive the product. You can offer complementary product recommendations, too. For instance, if you highlight a comfy sweater, give consumers links to your scarves, socks, and gloves. Gift guides are all about convenience for everyone involved. Release the stress from your shoppers and earn sales in the process.
2. Nordstrom: PersonalizationSay goodbye to the days of generic trinkets during the largest shopping season. With customization as a top priority, consumers crave products that will create memories for the special people in their lives. The need of personalization is an advantage for your ecommerce store. It’s your opportunity to distinguish your inventory from competitors and build brand recognition with your target audience. Personalization will vary depending on your consumer base and product offerings. You can provide buyers with the choice to add hand-picked designs to an item, or deliver the gift in a unique manner (maybe a drone!). Michelle Hoang, marketing at Beeketing, gives a suggestion: “Why not allow your shoppers to directly send the products to their loved-ones with an e-Gift card? This way you make the shopping easy for the gift senders because they won’t have to wait for the packages to arrive before they can gift them.” Nordstrom lets its shoppers include a personalized message to their gifts. For a few extra bucks, they also can get products wrapped in a box with tissue paper, a ribbon, and a gift tag. Gifts are an expression of the customers. Let them participate in building the gift through personalization options.
3. REI: Social MovementsYour customers are more than just occasional shoppers who love your products. They are people who live in a world of injustice, struggle with medical issues, and champion ideals bigger than themselves. So it makes sense for your business to join local and national movements with your audience. Work with your team to decide which issue aligns with your company’s values and fits the dialogue of your customers. And it’s not always about being right or wrong when it comes to advocating for a cause. Instead, you can strive to bring a solution to a social movement. That’s exactly what REI did. While brands rushed to compete for Black Friday sales, the outdoor gear chain closed the doors of its retail locations, headquarters, and distribution centers. With its #OptOutside campaign, the company encourages employees, along with communities, to enjoy the outdoors, rather than missing time with family on Thanksgiving to wait in line for a Black Friday doorbuster. Be mindful of how you execute this social movement strategy. It should be a sincere approach to raise awareness about a problem and to contribute your resources to help. What causes matter to your customers? It’s time for you to step up and add your brand’s voice to the conversation.
4. Lenovo: Contests & GiveawaysYou get a car! You get a car! Okay, maybe not a car. While your business may not dish out free vehicles like Oprah Winfrey, your brand can still spread the joy of surprises. Contests and giveaways during the holidays can bring some much-needed attention to your business. Develop amusing contests with relevant themes and cool prizes. This is the perfect time to display your brand personality and build trust with your consumers. Lenovo prepares its customers for a season of winning. Lucky entrants have a chance to win everything from a gaming monitor to a tablet after they fill out a simple form. While you may want to get your contest started today, it’s essential that your team craft rules for the contests and check local laws. Alexandra Sheehan, a freelance writer/editor and content specialist, says: “Before you run a contest or giveaway, remember that there are a number of legalities and guidelines to consider, and these rules depend on the type of promotion you’re running and what platform you use as a host.” Attract new customers to your ecommerce store with contests and giveaways. The influx in traffic will boost your efforts to earn more revenue for the business. Learn more about running a successful Facebook contest here.
5. Old Navy: Email MarketingAs your team gears up for the holiday rush, don’t forget about your existing customers. They still hold value for your brand and possibly will drive more sales than new customers. Email marketing is one of the best channels to nurture your loyal fans during the holidays. Your goal is to send specific messages to different customer segments. Let’s say your ecommerce store sells a variety of shoes. To cater to multiple audiences, you may send basketball shoe recommendations to your athletic consumers and offer limited-edition shoes to your sneakerheads. Email also works well for delivering time-sensitive coupons. In the example below, Old Navy tells its customers about a 40% promotion. (And the email fits mobile devices!) Spice up your holiday email marketing with user-generated content, from photos to testimonials. You want to remind customers of the blissful feeling they get when shopping with your brand. It gives them another reason to visit your website sooner than later. Communication never grows old as a marketing strategy. Take advantage of email to retain your most faithful customers.
Inspire Your AudienceDon’t let your business miss out on holiday revenue. This season, do something different and revamp your marketing campaigns. Try gift guides to direct consumers to specific products that match their needs. Use personalization to turn an ordinary gift into a memorable moment. And it never hurts to host a fun-filled giveaway to pique consumers’ interest. Ignite your audience’s holiday spirit to increase end-of-year sales.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by Shayla Price
Stop Bounce Back Emails With These 5 TipsBusiness managers often discuss email list management once it’s too late. It’s easy for teams to get so bogged down with nurturing their customers that they forget to monitor the overall health of their lists. So, they keep sending emails and only focus on their sales. However, bounce rates are another important metric for managers. It represents whether your emails actually get delivered to your subscribers. High bounce rates mean you’re failing to reach your intended audience. But no worries. You can take deliberate actions to fix this problem. Check out these five strategies to reduce your email bounce rates.
1. Avoid Purchasing EmailsIn business, it’s tempting to take the easy route. We see a new tool that promises to deliver 100x results in two days, and our initial reaction is to try it. It’s only later that we learn about the negative effects. This principle holds true for email marketing. There’s a lot of vendors guaranteeing email addresses of qualified leads. Don’t trust them. You’ll soon realize that you bought incomplete and out-of-date information. You’ll be addressing someone in your email as Sam, only to realize the person’s real name is Mary. You ruin the potential customer relationship from the start. Plus, most purchased emails won’t even make it to the subscriber’s inbox. You’ll lose lots of money for buying a fake list of leads. Have you ever thought of purchasing an email list? While experts issue clear warnings to stay away, some businesses continue to try their luck. Below is a job posting on Upwork from a company seeking to buy an email list for a specific industry. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Consider the CAN-SPAM laws you might be violating. Your business is too valuable for a list of fake email subscribers.
2. Set Up an Opt-in FormIf you shouldn't purchase a list, what is your alternative option? Here’s where the hard work begins for your team. You have to roll up your sleeves and start engaging with your audience. To gain people’s trust, you must be open to giving away something of value. This strategy involves responding to fans on Facebook, answering questions on live chat, and creating interesting content that offers useful information. It’s all about developing a genuine customer relationship. After you establish that connection, you want to take the next step and ask customers for their email addresses. Asking for permission is ideal, as “77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email.” Capture people’s email addresses by adding an opt-in form to your website. There are several types of opt-in forms, including overlays, widget bars, and scroll mats. Professional blogger Mary Fernandez offers this recommendation: “With a lightbox popup, the rest of the screen becomes darker and the user’s eye automatically goes to read your message and view the email sign-up form. This makes it perfectly clear what the user should do next.” With an opt-in form, you earn more qualified leads because subscribers willingly entered their contact details. For your business, this means a well-deserved drop in your bounce rates.
3. Get Your Own DomainProfessionalism matters in business. Your customers will judge every move you make. That’s why you want to build a good brand perception early. In email marketing, the sender of the message determines whether someone will open and read your email. If the recipient doesn’t recognize the “From” name, your email will remain unopened. To increase your chances, you want to use a combination of your name or an employee’s name and the brand. For example, it’s likely a subscriber will open your email if it says: Tim from HostGator. There’s another big issue hindering subscribers from seeing your emails. And that’s your “From” email address. It’s vital that you avoid using free webmail accounts, like Gmail and Yahoo. Most email service providers don’t give you the option. Email servers deem these free accounts as more suspicious, and email platforms prefer to maintain credible services. So, what’s the solution? Buy a custom domain. It pushes your business toward professionalism, and you get to dodge those high bounce rates. Give your email recipients peace of mind that they’re receiving the right message from the right business. Still looking for the best domain name? Get one right now with HostGator.
4. Clean Your Email ListAround April of every year, people start removing their winter clothes from their closets to make room for the new season. Some folks even donate items and do an extra scrub of their homes. People refer to this annual routine as Spring cleaning. Your business should do something similar. On a yearly or quarterly basis, your team should clean your email list. Cleaning your list is the process of purging invalid email addresses and dormant subscribers and addressing any spam complaints. You want your list populated with only the most responsive subscribers. A quality list ensures you send messages to people who want to receive them. But don’t press delete just yet. Pamela Vaughan, a principal marketing manager at HubSpot, suggests you give subscribers one last chance to show their interest: “Before you remove subscribers, try a re-engagement campaign to regain their interest. You might offer a special incentive to recapture their attention. If that doesn’t work, simply ask them if they wish to remain on your list and include an easy way for them to opt out.” It’s also recommended that you validate your email addresses. With Quick Email Verification, you can check your bounce rates before your next email campaign. You don’t have to wait until Spring to clean your list. Take action right now to get your email marketing in tip-top shape.
5. Manage Your Account ReputationCompany reputation holds significance in every industry. A tainted brand image means less customers and less partners willing to do business with you. For that reason, you’ll see major businesses go to great lengths to protect their brands. While email account reputation isn’t a highly publicized crisis, it still can affect your relationships with customers and your email service provider. In this case, a poor reputation impacts your email deliverability. With a decrease in delivered messages, you can’t earn more sales from your products or advertisers. Your bottom line will take a nosedive and sponsors will seek ads with your competitors. The experts at AddThis agree: “Sending emails to nonexistent addresses or to spam folders dings your IP reputation. It’s a vicious cycle: a lower reputation results in lowered deliverability, and even fewer emails actually reaching your customers.” It’s also key to practice ethical marketing habits. If customers unsubscribe from your mailing list, honor their wishes. And stay away from spammy phrases, like “no strings attached,” “satisfaction guaranteed,” and “no purchase necessary.”
Improve Your Email MarketingThere’s more to email than writing copy and adding cool designs to your messages. It’s also important to refine your email deliverability. If no one is getting your emails, you’re not nurturing any leads. Experiment with different strategies, like opt-in forms and list cleaning, to ensure your emails get received. Check your email bounce rates. It’ll improve your overall email marketing strategy.
Marketing Automation: Get More Out of Your EffortsMarketers give automation a bad reputation. As you look through your Facebook posts, you’ll notice dozens of articles about how automation doesn’t work or how it’s not helpful. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Marketing combined with automation offers an opportunity for you to connect directly with your audience in a more efficient manner. Not only can your business save time with routine tasks, but your team can also gather new insights about your customers. So, don’t subtract marketing automation from your strategy. There’s a chance to nurture your audience and increase your revenue. Here are 5 refreshing ways to optimize your business processes.
1. Share Relevant Social Media PostsResearch shows that 97% of online adults have visited or used a social network within the last month. If your business is aiming to earn new leads, social media is your destination. However, most companies fail to maximize the potential of their social media presence. You’ve probably scrolled down your favorite brand’s Twitter timeline and noticed all the tweets referencing their products. When brands focus solely on themselves, customers get annoyed. They don’t like that icky feeling of being sold something 24/7. Instead, companies must gear their social media efforts toward educating and entertaining their audiences. You can share unique experiences from customers, post a vintage employee photo for #ThrowBackThursday, or even share funny GIFs during the holiday season. Social media is all about giving your brand a vibrant personality that customers can relate to. Once you build that trust, your audience will feel more comfortable purchasing from you. You’re thinking: that’s going to take several hours. Not exactly. With social media management tools like Buffer, you can now automate your posts days in advance. You’ll reach your audience at the right times and drive more engagement. Explore how you can share more relevant posts, and don’t forget to automate your social media tasks.
2. Track Visitor BehaviorDo you follow your website visitors? Are you monitoring how they interact with content on your pages? If not, there's a possibility your team is missing an opportunity to really learn about your consumers. Some businesses find it creepy to watch their customers, and it makes their teams feel like a bunch of stalkers. If you feel that way, perhaps you’re taking the wrong approach. Tracking visitor behavior helps you understand the customer. When you know more, you can create better online experiences. “By analyzing where your visitors come from and what content leads them to your site, you can better track your content ROI, learn more about how effective your efforts are, and create more of what your visitors find most valuable,” states Ashley Kimler, a communications specialist at Heroic Search Tulsa. For example, if you set up Google Analytics on your site, you can observe which channels lead visitors to your products. You can learn how much time each visitor spends viewing a specific page. Your team also can track specific interactions on your website, such as video downloads. More importantly, you gain all this data automatically. Monitoring your visitors helps you serve your customers. When you focus on that goal, you eliminate the doubts of whether to track your visitors or not.
3. Capture Interested BuyersBrick-and-mortar businesses are notorious for luring shoppers into their stores with catchy sales signs and window displays. And once a customer enters their doors, they grab the person’s interest with a friendly sales clerk and limited-time promotions. As an online retailer, you can replicate this strategy for your business. All you need is a landing page, a content asset, and a pop-up box. Landing pages work as a tool to earn your visitor’s attention. You’re not selling them on your product just yet. Rather, you want to encourage them to give you their email address in exchange for a content asset. The asset can be a five-part email course or a coupon for a future purchase. “The content on the landing page primes the reader for what your asset will give them. It should provide a quick, digestible summary of what they’ll learn if they download it. This is the ‘exchange’ point in the process, where they decide if your asset is worth their time and their contact information,” writes Ben Silverman, marketing writer at Brafton. But how will you collect their contact information? Will someone need to be online operating the site? Of course not. You’ll add a pop-up box onto your website. So when someone clicks a specific link or button to sign up for your content asset, they will have the option to fill out a form. Below is a pop-up box from ThriveThemes. You can capture interested buyers any time. That’s the advantage of marketing automation.
4. Identify Qualified LeadsYou are thrilled when new prospects come through the pipeline. It’s a sign your marketing strategy is working. Yet, most business strategies stop here. They have interested buyers and immediately start selling products to them. That’s not quite how you want to do it. Instead, you need to create a system that moves consumers down your sales funnel. You want to turn prospects into qualified leads. Work with your team to define activities that signal when consumers are ready to buy your product. These actions may include opening three promotional emails, visiting your product page five times within a week, or contacting a customer support member. “Marketing automation provides a framework for your potential customers’ progress as they traverse the buyer’s journey, and makes it easy for marketers to manage leads. You define characteristics, such as a title or industry, and behaviors, such as attending a webinar, that indicate when a prospect will likely become a buyer,” says Chris Hardeman, vice president of sales at Act-On Software. If you had to manually qualify leads, this labor-intensive task would take forever. Marketing automation platforms, like Pardot and ActiveCampaign, offer lead scoring that track customer engagement over time. You have the power to improve team productivity and increase sales. So, start figuring out how to qualify your leads today.
5. Send Targeted Email CampaignsCommunication is important when it comes to online marketing. It matters how and when you send messages to your audience. In the past, businesses dominated the communication with their customers. Companies made unilateral decisions about what they would say. With advances in technology, the brand-customer relationship favors the buyer. Customers control when and where they want to receive sales messages. As a result, businesses deliver multiple emails to their customers every day—all vying for their attention. To separate yourself from the pack, it’s imperative that you send targeted email campaigns. These personalized messages fit each customer’s shopping behaviors and specific product interests. Customized emails ensure that buyers read your content and pay attention to your services. Plus, your subscribers get the sense that your business understands their needs. Email marketing software makes it easy to deliver personalized automated messages to your list. For instance, with Constant Contact, your team can send automated birthday emails to each subscriber. You want customers to listen to you. To do so, send targeted email campaigns to strengthen the consumer relationship.
It’s Time to AutomateAutomation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all your marketing challenges. However, it is useful for streamlining your business workflows. From social media to email campaigns, marketing automation facilitates the customer journey. You can attract, nurture, and convert leads without the unnecessary hassle. Give automation another chance. It’s worth the investment.
How To Get Started With Marketing AutomationLearning a new business process takes time and money. You have to train team members and select software that fits your budget. Right now, many companies are evaluating their options when it comes to marketing automation. The primary question being asked: Is it worth the investment? Colin Bentley, group product manager at Intercom, offers his opinion. “The key benefit of marketing automation is its ability to provide a personal experience that directly relates to the action each person takes. Good marketing automation creates a connected set of personalized and relevant messages that enrich the customer journey and help them discover and use your products.” If you’re struggling to make a decision, no worries. Here are five things you should do before investing in marketing automation.
1. Assess How You Identify Qualified LeadsEvery consumer that walks into your store or visits your website isn’t going to fit your ideal customer type. And that’s okay. You don’t want to be all things to everybody. However, it is your responsibility to filter through potential leads and determine who can benefit from your products and services. For example, a high-end shoe enthusiast won’t find your comfortable, low-priced sneakers appealing but a cash-strapped father might. Qualifying leads requires examining your customers’ demographic profiles and behaviors. Specific actions can indicate a consumer is ready to move to the next step in the sales funnel. We call this process lead scoring. Below is a chart from Wishpond listing a few possible actions that hold significance in identifying leads. Marketing automation makes lead scoring easier for your team. Instead of tallying your consumers’ actions with pencil and paper, there’s software that can automatically do these tasks for you. It’ll record what actions occur and notify your team when prospects become leads. eMarketeer reports that “companies that nurture prospects with the help of marketing automation, see a 451% increase in qualified leads.” If you’re still guessing whether a visitor is a lead or not, marketing automation is a natural next step for your business.
2. Study Your Current Nurturing ProcessGone are the days where a consumer learns about your brand, sees your merchandise, and buys your product immediately. Competition is fierce in the marketplace today, and with choice comes consumers’ hesitations to purchase things quickly. When a consumer comes across your product, they start investigating. They ask their friends about your brand and even visit multiple review sites to get other people’s opinions. The time it takes to make a purchasing decision has extended. For your business, this means creating a nurturing process to keep buyers interested while they do a little research. Lead nurturing is a major part of the sales cycle. You’re educating and engaging consumers to persuade them to purchase. Nurturing activities may include making courtesy calls, sending promotional emails, or suggesting a blog content to read. The entire process is tedious and involves several courses of action. How you nurture a teen buyer would be different from how you would nurture a middle-aged consumer. Then, you must factor in the individual’s interests and buying motivations. With marketing automation, you can create the system and then run the lead nurturing process on autopilot (with some supervision). For instance, you can automatically send consumers an email with a coupon after they abandon a shopping cart. No more reminding yourself to follow up; let the software do the heavy lifting.
3. Track Marketing ActivitiesYour team is working on a big project to increase customer retention. It’s a brand-new initiative with no set procedure. So, everyone is basically creating steps from scratch. As retention ticks upward, the team declares the project a victory. So your boss wants to replicate the success. But there’s one major problem. No one on the team tracked the marketing activities. You don’t even know how much time it took to achieve results. While it may seem obvious to record marketing activities, this mistake is common in many businesses. Tivi Jones, a contributor for The Arizona Republic, offers her insight on the topic: “Keeping track of your marketing projects regularly enables you to not only monitor your activities, but also your results. Based on your current marketing goals and objectives, set up marketing projects or campaigns in order to group activities and results into chunks you can manage and analyze for return on investment.” Don’t know which marketing strategy led to results? Marketing automation may be your solution. The right tool can track what marketing activities you did and when you implemented them. For instance, if you run an A/B test in January and forget which strategy won, you can retrieve the results in May when you revisit the problem.
4. Gauge Your Personalization StrategiesAs more businesses open their doors, the market becomes more crowded. Consumers get bombarded with messages from their local gyms, doctors, and chain retailers. Everyone is vying for the buyer’s attention. Breaking out of the mold may seem difficult. Because, quite frankly, it is challenging to showcase your brand and product when 20 other competitors exist. But the battle isn’t impossible. Stop thinking about how you can be different. Instead, communicate differently to your target audience. Personalization combined with marketing automation opens doors to nurturing your consumers based on their desires. Nearly two-thirds of email marketers worldwide use email automation, according to a GetResponse survey. However, only 25.4% of email marketers are personalizing with dynamic content. Marketing automation offers a unique opportunity to integrate specific customer data into your email campaigns, sales collateral, and site messaging. By eliminating the boilerplate text, you show customers that you really understand their needs.
5. Understand How You Collect DataData is a hot topic for businesses. Experts advise teams to collect every single piece of data to understand their customers. So, that’s what most companies do. They gather data from a recent campaign, pull information from an old database, and import contacts from an external source. Before you know it, teams have accumulated data from 20 to 30 different places. Then, after it’s collected, the data sits idle on a supervisor’s desktop, waiting to be accidentally deleted. This isn’t a sound strategy. Marketing automation can help your team centralize all your data. That way, you’re getting accurate information to make better judgment calls. If you need to look up a new customer, the data is at your fingertips, rather than a filing cabinet. “We track every single acquisition channel through which our users register. This includes blog posts, press, organic search, paid ads, partnerships, etc. We do weekly meetings to review the data. It shows which channels convert the highest, generate the most loyal users and more,” says Danny Boice, founder of Speek. You don’t want your data scattered around like toys in a child’s playpen. If it takes you days to find your data, it might be time to invest in marketing automation.
Get Ready to AutomateIntroducing marketing automation into your business is a big decision. You want to be well-informed before you take the leap. Evaluate how you identify qualified leads in your pipeline. Track your marketing tasks during campaigns. And of course, assess how you currently gather data. Get informed. Then, invest in marketing automation.