It may seem a long way away, but if you run an ecommerce business then you should already be planning your marketing campaigns for a really successful Christmas season.
Planning for Christmas has the advantage of a defined end date — you should know the last date you can take orders and still get them delivered. So that’s the first thing you need to work out — when is your last order date for Christmas?
Once you’ve got your end date, you can start planning in the relevant promotions and create a plan.
The strongest marketing plans are those that are built on strong stories. Stories are the subjects and themes that hold together a set of activities over a number of weeks and across your marketing channels.
What should your stories for Christmas be? And just saying “Christmas” for three months is copping out. Here’s some ideas get you started:
None of those is particularly creative, but building on your brand and events around Christmas can give you some great stories. From 1st October to Christmas Day you should aim to have four to six different stories.
Once you’ve got your stories, pencil them into your calendar. Next, start filling in the big marketing activities. The big ones are those that get seen by lots of people; your emails, what’s on the homepage, social media competitions, blogs, videos and other content.
While you’re working out the content of these emails and blogs, you’ll probably find you want to jig around some of the stories because you’ve got more ideas under some than others — that’s fine, that’s why we’re planning all this now, so you have time to make those changes.
The next part is to fill in the mini-marketing activity, those areas that don’t require a whole blog post or a whole email to be created but which are no less essential to a successful season. These include: remarketing, pay per click advertising and social media posts. You need to note when key changes need to be made, such as when ad text needs to be rewritten and the important things you should be tweeting about.
If you get your Christmas marketing plan together now, it’s going to make your season both more successful and easier to manage. But, don’t forget a good marketing plan is flexible — so monitor the results and if you need to change it, change it.
Chloe Thomas is an eCommerce expert and the author of eCommerce Masterplan.
The big hot topic in ecommerce at the moment is personalisation. Through intelligent integration of Facebook Login, online retailers can access data on likes, interests, friends, even photos — a much greater wealth of more truly personal information.
In order to make the most of this information, follow these five tips so that you can provide a tailored experience to your customers:
The world’s biggest social network is essentially offering retailers access to the largest bank of personal data ever created. So, as online retailers are looking to create personalised ecommerce experiences, it would seem to be a given to take advantage of this opportunity.
Many online retailers implement Login with Facebook for account creation, but not account linking. Quickening the new user sign-up process is one benefit of Login with Facebook, but it is really only scratching the surface in terms of making the most of the benefits. Make sure to take advantage of Facebook Login for account linking.
Put the Login with Facebook option front and centre so your customers can’t miss it. Highlight the benefits for the customer of signing in with Facebook too. Rather than the long forms users are often expected to complete during registration, with a couple of clicks and a redirection to Facebook permissions, the registration process can be made dramatically less complicated. However, gaining your customers’ trust is important when requesting access to personal information they share on Facebook.
What do you need to know about your customers to help you deliver a truly personal experiences? Access to a user’s friends list and other information on their public profile will certainly be useful, but think what can be achieved using data on their Facebook Likes and Interests. Ensure you have a clear strategy from the start, as you cannot send permissions to a user through Facebook twice.
You have the data, so use it. If you are a music retailer, recommend a new artist’s release to customers who like that artist, or similar artists, on Facebook. If you stock tents or rucksacks, promote the product on your home page to users whose interests include hiking. Show your customers what their friends have bought, reviewed or liked to turn their online shopping experience into a truly personal one.
Providing a tailored experience to your customers will allow you to build relationships, loyalty, conversions and ultimately, revenue. With personalisation shaping the future of ecommerce, make sure you are not missing out on this valuable opportunity.
Declan Kennedy is chief executive at Betapond.
Have you ever heard the phrase the “busy fool”? For many business owners, this is their reality. They work all hours of the day servicing their one-to-one clients, often into the evenings. Time off is few and far between.
Those whose only revenue comes from selling their one-to-one time will always be limited by how much they can physically and mentally deliver in a day, week or month. They will never be able to break through that ceiling, unless they can charge significantly more for their time.
For me, the move to online coaching literally transformed my business overnight as one of my first product promotions resulted in $24,000 of sales, the majority of which were a passive revenue stream for me.
I am not alone in my experiences either. There are many people out there making impressive revenues by selling their services online. The great thing about it is that it applies to any type of coaching or training, not just the traditional personal or professional development coaching.
I know a personal fitness instructor who made thousands from selling an online fitness bootcamp, containing content she had created years before, but had never found a way to use properly. What I love about that particular story is that she created additional revenue from what she already had in place and it was a totally new market that opened up for her — clients that were not on her doorstep.
If you are wondering if this will work for you, I would encourage you to ask yourself one simple question. Are you limiting yourself by not thinking outside of the box and exploring new routes to market and new customer bases? Are there ways of attracting new business that you haven’t even thought of yet and if you did, what impact could they make?
It does take some thought to work out how to package up what you do into products your clients actually want to buy, but once you’ve made that first online sale, you can do it over and over again.
I still love my one-to-one coaching — it brings me great fulfilment and helps to keep me challenged to develop my skills and experience, but having more than one route to market and multiple revenue streams means I get to live life the way I want to and that is absolutely priceless.
Nicola Bird is the creator of JigsawBox, an online coaching tool for coaches, trainers and consultants.
There are three types of marketing that, if you get them right, are really going to fast-track your business success in 2013.
Content marketing, social media sharing, and remarketing are three areas that can increase your sales and where you can still be the first in your marketplace to get it right. That will give you great power over your competition.
Great content marketing is going to sit at the centre of successful sustainable marketing activity in 2013. That’s because, without great content, you’re not going to get good traffic from the search engines, and there’s little for customers to discuss about you on social media (which also affects your search traffic). Plus, good content builds customers’ warmth towards you — it defines your brand and keeps them coming back again and again.
What is content?
It might be a blog, it might be a video, or pictures of your latest photo-shoot, or even an infographic. Essentially content is anything people can consume online — written, visual, or audio.
If you really want to take it to top-of-the-class content — get your customers to create it for you! Ask them to write blog posts for you, review your products, or post videos of them using them.
Creating content isn’t easy, but this next tip for 2013 is.
Social media sharing buttons. These are the little buttons you find on a blog or product page that invite the visitor to share the page on Twitter or Facebook. Once you’ve added them to your page templates, that’s it, the job is done.
So why should you add them? Well, if you want to win in the search engine rankings war in 2013 you need people talking about your site and your products on social media. That means you need to make it easy for them to do so. Visitors are more likely to talk about you and your products online if there’s a button on that product page telling them to.
Capture more customers
Both the above tips are about driving more traffic to your website, the third top marketing tactic for 2013 is all about improving your conversion rate. Remarketing enables you to show ads to people who’ve already visited your website — reminding them to come back and buy from you.
You simply need to add a piece of code to all the pages of your website, and then create the targeting rules and the ads. To do all this you can use Google Adwords, and you pay for the advertising on a cost per click basis.
A few things to be careful of — with your targeting make sure you exclude those people who did buy, limit how long after their last visit they’ll see your ads, and set a maximum number of times they see your ad each day.
And finally, a little bonus tip — test out selling your products on Amazon and eBay. That’s where many consumers are spending their online shopping time — so if you’re not there, you’re probably missing out!
Chloe Thomas is an eCommerce expert and the author of eCommerce Masterplan.
One of my all time favourite films of the last ten years is the futuristic action movie Minority Report. I remember watching in fascination as our hero John Anderton passed through a shopping centre of the future. The whole sequence was brilliant. Billboards and advertising changed as people walked past, tannoy systems in shops welcomed you back and asked how your last purchase was working out. It was both a scary and tantalising view of the future.
Minority Report was released in 2002 and only eight years later Augmented Reality (AR), the blending of the real and virtual world, has exploded into popular culture. Some of the highlights include iPhone apps that use the camera to overlay directions to your nearest Starbucks, and interactive kiosks demonstrating yet to be manufactured products at trade shows. For business in general, and retail in particular, it seems that the opportunities are endless.
I have a t-shirt at home with a slogan "RL has rubbish FPS". Translating, this means that real life isn't as good as virtual. Sadly my t-shirt is right, the real world is still light years away from the possibilities of Minority Report. Where are the interactive billboards? Where is the personalised voice?
However, with smart phone adoption going stratospheric, developers are finding new ways to supplement real life. For retail, my current favourite augmented app is Google Goggles. Goggles allows you to take a picture of a product, logo or landmark and look it up on the web.
Surfing the web via real life items is a revolutionary concept. Not only will this allow you to look up online pricing while arguing with the sales person in your local garage, but it also means that you can discover more about the sculpture and its creator while on a museum trip, just by taking a photo.
The ecommerce world is getting in on the act too. Several major online clothing companies are rolling out the "Magic Mirror" feature. It allows you to try clothes on via your webcam from the comfort of your own home. This Christmas Hugo Boss also trialled an impressive online and offline marketing campaign based around a game of blackjack, using both the real tangible items and virtual pixelated content. And we’re just at the start of the possibilities.
Why don't you see for yourself and give one of the following augmented experiences a go:
I am not yet expecting my embarrassing shopping habits to be blurted out over a loud speaker as I walk into Tesco. But some aspects of the future have definitely arrived already. Brace yourself for the ride, it’s going to be exciting.
Companies are generally very good at collecting customer data. They have processes and systems in place to record every touch point a customer has with them. Whether it be in-store, online, through an email or direct mail campaign or via telesales and telemarketing, behaviour is tracked from various sources and saved into various systems.
However, all too often this data is not integrated, it is stored in different locations or departments (web databases/offline databases/telesales databases etc) and is never consolidated into one central location. As a result companies fail to create an individual customer view and ultimately miss seeing the value of their data.
This is because segmented customer data can’t be analysed for trends or buying habits and opportunities to cross sell or up sell are missed. Most importantly, you cannot build a relationship with your customer without knowing everything about them.
By using an intelligent data management solution that will automatically pull customer data from your various sources into one central database, you can start to build an individual view of each customer, learn everything about them and begin to build valuable, meaningful relationships.
When you can see, on one simple interface who your customer is, their browsing and buying history, what messages they respond to, how they respond, at what time, what they like and don’t like you can communicate with them in a relevant and targeted way, learn about them and understand how they interact with you. By doing this you begin to add real value to your data.
The next step needs to be taken in data capture and individual customer views need to be created to ensure trends and behaviours aren’t missed or ignored and businesses can begin to learn about every aspect of their customer.