Category Archives: Internet Marketing

self-actualization

Taking Care of your Online Customer’s Self-Actualization Needs

Customers seeking to satisfy their self-actualization needs online do so to fulfil their total potential. Self-actualization represents the need for growth that people constantly strive for as they reach toward fulfilling their highest level needs.

Yes, if you’ve guessed that I’m talking about Maslow’s 1 hierarchy of needs, you’ve guessed correct. So, what can your online business offer to someone that already has battled through most of the layers of Maslow’s pyramid?

Let’s first have a look at how the pyramid is structured.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

self-actualization

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Looking at the pyramid, you’ll see that the need for self-actualization is right at the top. On the other hand, can the physiological needs of you customers be found at the bottom of the pyramid. Your customer’s most basic needs start at the bottom of the pyramid. As the needs are satisfied, your customer is motivated to seek the next level of need fulfillment. The need for safety and love/belonging and esteem make out the remainder of the hierarchy.

But will your customer satisfy her need for self-actualization when visiting your website? Maybe you should first recognise who the customers are that seek self-actualization needs…

Characteristics of customers seeking self-actualization (SA)

According to a study by Maslow, people who are looking to find self-actualization can be recognized as follows:

  • Realistic – SA persons have a more efficient perception of reality, they have comfortable relations with it. They are un-threatened and un-frightened by the unknown and have a superior ability to reason, to see the truth. Moreover, they are logical and efficient.
  • Acceptance – they accept themselves, others and the natural world the way they are. Furthermore do they see human nature as is, have a lack of crippling guilt or shame, and enjoy themselves without regret or apology. Also, they have no unnecessary inhibitions.
  • Spontaneity, Simplicity, Naturalness – spontaneous in their inner life, thoughts and impulses, they are unhampered by convention. Their ethics is autonomous, they are individuals, and are motivated to continual growth.
  • Problem Centring – they focus on problems outside themselves, centred on others. They have a mission in life requiring much energy, their mission is their reason for existence. And, they are serene, characterized by a lack of worry, and are devoted to duty.
  • Detachment: The Need for Privacy – SA people are alone but not lonely, unflappable, retain dignity amid confusion and personal misfortunes, objective. They are self-starters, responsible for themselves, own their behaviour.
  • Autonomy: Independent of Culture and Environment – SA’s rely on inner self for satisfaction. Stable in the face of hard knocks, they are self-contained, independent from love and respect.
  • Continued Freshness of Appreciation – they have a fresh rather than stereotyped appreciation of people and things. Appreciation of the basic good in life, moment to moment living is thrilling, transcending and spiritual. They live the present moment to the fullest.

According to Saul McLeod (Simply Psychology), Maslow estimated that only about two percent of people reaches self-actualization.

Concluding

Gratefully, it’s not everyone that seeks and reaches self-actualization. However, if self-actualization seeking people subscribe to your website, or follow your business on social networks, then you may possess a niche audience.

All that’s left is to keep their attention and monetize their loyalty.

Note

1 Maslow, A.H. 1943. A theory of human motivation, Psychological Review, 50(4):370.

Images

  1. Wikipidia.org
  2. Pixabay

Instagram Marketing – Telling Stories about Your Brand with Pictures and Videos

Instagram is the fastest growing social network site and is expected to have one billion active users this year (Mediakix, November 2017). As a result, Instagram marketing has really become “essential” when it comes creating a following for your brand.

People love Instagram. They find gratification by posting photos and videos for their friends to see and react to. Also, users consume photos and videos mostly by viewing a core page showing a “stream” of the latest photos and videos from all their friends, listed in reverse chronological order 4. They can also ‘like’ or comment on these posts.

Instagram marketing is valuable tool for retailers. This is evident because retail brands are prominent users of Instagram. They frequently use persuasion, self-efficacy, relational, emotion and symbolism strategies to get users to interact with the brand by ‘liking’ or commenting on the content 3.

The more ‘likes’ and followers a retail brand achieve on Instagram, the more will users become aware of the brand. However, in order to secure online sales, retailers should make the user’s journey from ‘awareness’ to ‘purchasing’ as smooth as possible.

About Instagram

Instagram is an online, mobile phone photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social network service (SNS) that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and then share them on other platforms 1. It also allows users to add hashtags and geotags, graphical stickers, Augmented Reality objects, as well as apply multiple graphical filters to alter photos. Instagram quickly became popular because it’s not only a handy photo-sharing app, but also a social network.

What is most powerful about Instagram is that it is geared entirely towards mobile use, allowing users a simple interface to upload photos that they have just taken or captured in the past. “It’s like Twitter with followers, only instead of real-time text updates, you provide photo updates” explained Zohra Ashpari for PC World in 2012.

Instagram user statistics (Hootsuit)

  1. Instagram has over 800 million active users.
  2. 80% of Instagram users come from outside of the U.S.
  3. Instagram is used by 38% of women in the U.S. and 26% of men.
  4. 59% of Instagrammers in the U.S. are under 30.
  5. Teenagers love Instagram.
  6. Facebook and Pinterest are Instagrammers’ other favourite networks.
  7. A lot of Instagram users have pretty deep pockets.

It took Facebook not long to purchase Instagram in 2012 for one billion US$. Maybe they did it because Instagram was potentially a threat to their other business (Facebook) 2. Furthermore, Facebook  owns the social media apps WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. The parallel that Zohra draw between the two social media apps then is happening even more today, as was pointed out in Redcode.

Kurt Wagner and Rani Molla write in Recode “The world’s most popular social apps are starting to look a little … similar. As companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap have evolved, they’ve started to borrow product ideas from each other in the hope of building an all-in-one experience.”

So if Facebook is similar to Instagram, and all the other social media apps appear similar to each other, how on earth can retailers decide what social media app to advertise their products with?

However, with more pictures and videos that are used to share stories and experience, retailers may first consider “how to market” rather than “where to market” on these social media apps.

Cadbury’s use of Instagram

Developing an Instagram marketing strategy

Instagram marketing is derived from social media marketing. Therefore social media marketing can formally be defined as “The utilization of social media technologies, channels, and software to create, communicate, deliver, and exchange offerings that have vale for an organization’s stakeholders.” 5

Alicia Johnson writing in SproutSocial.com suggests the following to create an Instagram marketing strategy:

Step 1: Determine Your Objectives

  1. What will Instagram allow you to do that other platforms don’t?
  2. Who is your target audience and which members of your audience are active on Instagram?
  3. How will Instagram integrate with the other networks in your social media strategy?

Step 2: Develop an Instagram Content Strategy

Content is the foundation of your Instagram presence. For that reason, many B2C businesses use Instagram to make their product the star of the show.

  1. Build content themes – review your objectives and determine what aspects of your brand to showcase in your Instagram content.
  2. Determine content medium and ratio – consider a balance of content types that will work best for the resources you have and the engagement you want from your audience.
  3. Set a (flexible) content calendar – to establish and maintain an active presence on Instagram, determine the frequency with which you will post.
  4. Curate user-generated content – it allows you to foster audience engagement and create an incentive for your audience to share posts.

Step 3: Establish Clear Team Guidelines: Style, Publishing and Workflow

On a visual platform, the need for a clearly defined aesthetic is key.

  1. Maintain a brand aesthetic – review the existing visual representations of your brand: your logo, website, graphics, stock photography and other collateral.
  2. Understand your brand’s composition – to create a sense of visual harmony when a user looks at your profile.

Step 4: Foster engagement and set guidelines for community management

Instagram offers huge potential for engagement.

  1. Optimize your bio and link – focus on what’s important about your brand. Your bio is also a good place to educate.
  2. Follow industry accounts and Instagram influencers – what kind of content do you want to keep a pulse on through Instagram?
  3. Use Instagram stories to test content – make this content easy to read, view and understand so users don’t skip you the next time you publish a story.

Step 5: Analyze Your Results

Tracking how well your content performs and your follower growth will allow you to adapt your Instagram marketing strategy over time. For that reason it allows you to deliver more content that your audience will respond to while helping you optimize for future campaigns.

Concluding

As digital communication technology improves, and we can communicate with speed and download quality images while moving, the visual content will become more import for retail brands. For that reason Facebook and Twitter are moving towards the business model of Instagram by incorporating more pictures and videos on the sites.

But we need to be reminded about the value of text: “Whereas a single picture may convey a thousand words, a single word may stimulate vivid images that may move consumers to attend, prefer, or buy 6.”

Notes

1 Sheldon, P. and Bryant, K. 2016. Instagram: Motives for its use and relationship to narcissism and contextual age, Computers in Human Behavior, 58:89-97.

2 Andrew Apostola and Simon Goodrich, 2013. Taking Back Retail, Transforming Traditional Retailers Into Digital Retailers, ©Portable Australia Pty Ltd.

3 Hassan, A. 2014. Do brands targeting women use instamarketing differently: a content analysis, In Marketing Management Association 2014 Annual Spring Conference Proceedings, 62-64.

4 Hu, Y., Manikonda, L. and Kambhampati, S. 2014, June. What We Instagram: A First Analysis of Instagram Photo Content and User Types, In Icwsm.

5 Tuten, T.L. and Solomon, M.R. 2014. Social Media Marketing, SAGE.

6 Wedel, M. and Pieters, R. eds. 2012. Visual marketing: From attention to action, Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Images

Pixabay.com

Flickr.com (Ell R Brown)

Are Websites Obsolete? Not so fast, some says…

Websites obsolete, really? Think about it – the 1.2 billion websites are becoming outdated and out of fashion? And who is to blame? The smart phones and mobile technology? Of course; according to Damle, Aslekar and Yadavalli, (2016) 1, people are beginning to use mobile applications (apps) more than ‘traditional’ websites.

Indeed, Connie Hwong reported that data from Verto Analytics showed that there’s a correlation between the number of distinct apps that consumers use and the total amount of time they spend using their smartphone on a daily basis. That’s no real surprise.

Pappachan, Yus, Das, Mehrotra, Finin and Joshi (2015) 2 suggested that today’s internet users have an array of choices while installing apps of any kind for entertainment, utility, or education. As a result, smart phones started to replace other devices as de facto medium for online browsing, social networking, and other activities. Even more, mobile apps are replacing traditional desktop applications and websites, said Pappachan et al (2015) 2.

So, it this the end of websites? Let’s first compare websites with apps – what are their functions and where do they fit in?

Websites versus Apps

For some, there is no question that the websites are obsolete. The transition from an internet of websites to an internet of mobile apps is no longer coming — it is here, writes John Herrman recently in The New York Times.

Dan Cristo, announced (quite dramatically) in Search Engine Watch: “I’ve been preaching the death of the web in favor of native mobile apps for a while now, but many don’t see it. They can’t imagine a day when their beloved .com will go away, disregarded as a relic of the early Internet.”

But can we do without a website? Are apps making websites obsolete?

Anderson and Rainie, (2012) 3 predicted five years ago that the experience when you visit a webpage and the experience when using an app will converge, possibly to the point where there is little practical difference. They listed points for and against apps.

Points for apps:

  • The convenience – of using apps as a gateway to getting what you want meets human needs.
  • Apps are are easier to control and turn into commodities for sale.
  • The apps approach to accessing information on the Internet is perceived as “closed,” while the traditional Web paradigm is seen as “open.”
  • Apps’ ability to meet specific needs becomes a double-edged sword; they simplify life and they create “walled gardens” and a lack of serendipity.

Point against the domination of apps:

  • The rapid global adoption of narrowly targeted software applications—increasingly popular because of their ease of use on mobile devices—is negatively impacting creativity, innovation, and individuality on the World Wide Web.

websites obsolete

So, are websites obsolete?

Before you get rid of your websites and fall heads over heels for apps, read the 5 reasons Evan Rose (Business2Community) suggests keeping your websites:

  1. There is no SEO for mobile apps. For the moment, there is no way of getting more search results for your business through the mobile app. SEO is still restricted to websites when it comes to on-page keyword strategies.
  2. You cannot incorporate too many features in an app. Imagine every type of content included in your website squeezed into a mobile app. It would be a huge app which would take up a lot of storage space and it would be difficult to use.
  3. You still rely on website landing pages. Coming back to those people who are still browsing social media from their computers (there are a lot of them, and for certain niches they are the typical potential customers), your social media campaigns, ads and offers would not be effective if you send people to a mobile app instead of a web landing page.
  4. Web pages are better for blogging. Although they are very busy, people still enjoy reading a good article or blog post, even if it is longer. It is quite annoying to do that in an app, with endless scrolling on the screen.
  5. Maintaining and updating websites is less expensive. If you focus all your marketing, promotion, presentation and blogging efforts in a mobile app, you will have to apply frequent updates. This is not only annoying for the users, but it is also costly for your organization.

Concluding

I suppose the website will never become obsolete. However, it may become a niche application.  It won’t be long before we can do everything with apps that we can do now with websites. More intriguing may be an application, on a different platform, that will make apps obsolete…

Notes

1 Damle, M., Aslekar, A. and Yadavalli, V.S. 2016. Comparative Study of Online Shopping Experience With Specific Reference to Mobile Apps Based Shopping, International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 7(4):1238-1246.

2 Pappachan, P., Yus, R., Das, P.K., Mehrotra, S., Finin, T. and Joshi, A. 2015. Building a Mobile Applications Knowledge Base for the Linked Data Cloud, In MoDeST@ ISWC, 14-25.

3 Anderson, J.Q. and Rainie, L. 2012. The Web Is Dead? No. Experts expect apps and the Web to converge in the cloud; but many worry that simplicity for users will come at a price, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Video:

Images

  1. Pexels.com
  2. StaticFlickr.com

Read also: The Big Challenge: How to Increase your Website Traffic

Content Marketing – Stories that Add Value to Your Target Audience

Content marketing is the only marketing left. Teaching your customers and giving your customers the resources to believe you are new marketing, said Seth Godin, renowned marketing author. Seth was right in 1999, and he is still spot on.

The internet provides numerous opportunities for retailers to share information about their brand and products. And this is what customers want. According to the Content Marketing Institute 1, 70% of people would rather learn about a company via an article than an ad.

In fact, “Nine out of ten organizations are now marketing with content – that is, going beyond the traditional sales pitches and instead enhancing brands by publishing (or passing along) relevant information, ideas, and entertainment that customers will value” confirmed Alexander Jutkowitz 2 back in 2014.

What is Content?

Before discussing the “content marketing’ construct, we must first understand what ‘content’ is. Content is everything that a web user reads, hears or experience when he/she visits and interacts with a digital communication.

Dr Dave Chaffey 3 refers to content as the combination of static content forming web pages, but also dynamic rich-media content which encourages interaction such as videos, podcasts, user-generated content and interactive product selectors. But what is the best content for retailers to use?

James Yankey identified the following as best content for retailers to use:

  • Reviews – customer reviews ensure that shoppers feel confident in their purchases. It also let retailers know where they can improve or respond to negativity.
  • Personalized recommendations – knowing your shoppers’ purchase history and what they’re currently in the market for is the best way to offer personalized recommendations.
  • How-to articles and videos – retailers can capture more traffic by providing in-depth how-to’s on their website to help customers get the most out of a new purchase.
  • User generated content – is the fastest growing content type. It helps you create emotional connections with your shoppers and shows that you value your customers’ experience with your products.
  • In-store remarketing – Display ads: similar to ads used by digital marketers, however they’re designed for customers who have browsed in-store rather than browsed online. Email campaigns: to remind shoppers of the products they saw and loved during and instore visit.
  • Loyalty offers – loyalty programs are the second most prominent driver of repeat business (AccessDevelopment.com). Things like offering 10% off a next purchase or creating a loyalty points system helps to establish loyal customers.

All content needs to be marketed…

Content Marketing

What is content marketing? The concept of content marketing can be defined as a marketing approach, which aims to find products produced according to customers’ needs and create customer satisfaction and fulfilment in this way 4.  Conveniently, we live and work  in the digital age…

Digital media allow retailers to target prospects with a defined need. With content marketing, which is proactive and self-selecting, little advertising is wasted 3. Jayson DeMers, contributing in Forbes mentioned three key advantages of content marketing:

Key advantages of content marketing:

  1. Customer relationships. Retailers have the opportunity to build and solidify a customer relationship. The customers, on the other hand, experience a sense of empowerment when digesting the content of retailers. They feel the retailer knows what they want and speaks directly to them. In return, retailers gain satisfied, loyal customers with higher retention rates.
  2. Cost efficiency. It is far less costly to communicate with your customers via content marketing. Creating a valuable blog post might only take a few hours of your time, and it will continue to create value for your brand indefinitely. A paid ad campaign, on the other hand, can be expensive, and its long-term value is comparatively fleeting.
  3. Long-term returns. Content marketing has a higher potential for long-term returns as well. Because paid ads disappear the moment you stop paying for them, there’s a finite and linear value to your investment. Content, on the other hand, offers compounding returns over time.

However, for retailers to enjoy the benefits of content marketing, they should do it the right way.

How to make content marketing work

Important for retailers is that the content they and their users create is managed properly. Therefore a strategic approach is needed…

When you develop a content strategy, there are some key things to consider according to Justin McGill:

  • Who you’re creating it for
  • The problem it’s going to solve for that audience
  • How it will be unique
  • The formats you’ll focus on
  • The channels where it will be published
  • How you will schedule and manage creation and publication

Ok, you’ve tried your best, but are getting nowhere with content marketing. What on earth could be the problem?

Neil Patel, a lifelong evangelist of Kissmetrics proposed the following 10 reasons way your content marketing effort may have failed:

  1. You haven’t refined your strategy. Like any other form of marketing, you need a strategy if you expect to be successful.
  2. You don’t spend much on content marketing. Retailers who spend a lot on marketing are able to grow their markets faster than companies who don’t spend as much.
  3. You aren’t promoting your content. The quickest way to kill your content marketing is to do nothing after you create your content.
  4. Your content sucks. Sometimes, the content just plain sucks.
  5. You’re in a tough niche. The content marketers who are struggling the most are those that are in really hard industries.
  6. You’re up against a goliath of a competitor. There are times when you’re simply facing a dominating competitive landscape.
  7. You haven’t waited long enough. Content marketing takes time. Don’t expect results in a matter of a few weeks or even a few months.
  8. You have horrible SEO. If you’re doing content marketing, but have poor SEO, you might as well not even be creating content. No one is going to find it.
  9. Your expectations are too high. Take a step back and get realistic about content marketing. You might not double your traffic or triple your revenue.
  10. You’re not having any fun with it. Have some fun with content marketing. It’s not supposed to be a painful, awful and dark journey through despondency.

If you’re still battling with content marketing in spite of trying everything, best is to consult a digital marketing expert. Now let’s conclude…

Concluding

Everyone has a story to tell, so they say. Your story, however, may be a good one – a story that your customers value and enjoy. With billions of stories on the web you should take care that it’s your story that is read, hear or seen. Hence the necessity of content marketing.

Read also: Content Marketing Tips for Retailers

Notes

1 Walters, T. and Rose, R. 2015. Is native advertising the new black? Content Marketing Institute, Northeast Ohio Media Group.

2 Jutkowitz, A. 2014. The Content Marketing Revolution, Harvard Business Review.

3 Chaffey, D. 2015. Digital business and E-commerce management, Pearson Education Limited.

4 Köse, U. and Sert, S. 2016. Intelligent Content Marketing with Artificial Intelligence, In International Conference of Scientific Cooperation for Future.

Image:

Photo Credit: <a href=https://howtostartablogonline.net/>via Richard Goodwin</a>
Video

Website Analytics Helps You to See How Your Online Business is Performing

Website Analytics is there for retailers to use. You’ve just decided to start an online retail business. Why not? It’s relatively easy and cheap to do. You can start a Drop Shipping business, or join Shopify or trade your own goods online with a Woocommerce site. According to Quora, there are between 12 and 24 million ecommerce websites on the net. However, only about 650,000 ecommerce websites generate annual sales of more than $1,000. That’s a miserable 2.7% generating very modest turnovers.

Is your online business not performing as planned? Are your paid search adverting and social media marketing campaigns not resulting in sales? Then you’re probably targeting the wrong customers at the wrong place with the wrong products. So how will you know that you’re doing things wrong? You can do the right thing by using a Website Analytics tool such as Google Analytics.

What is Website Analytics?

Web analytics is the process of analyzing the behavior of visitors to a Web site. Indeed, the use of Web analytics is said to enable a business to attract more visitors, retain or attract new customers for goods or services, or to increase the dollar volume each customer spends, says Margaret Rouse in Techtarget.com.

Web Analytics is not just a process for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website, according to Salini, Malavolta and Rossi (2016).

Salini et al (2016) mentioned that the four essential stages of Website Analytics are:

  1. Collection of data,
  2. Processing data into information,
  3. Developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and
  4. Formulating an online strategy.

Each of these stages impacts or can impact the stage preceding or following it; in other words they are sequentially connected and not isolated from each other.

  1. Collecting data for Web Analytics

The simplest, cheapest and most used Web Analytics tool is Google Analytics (GA). Indeed, Google analytics offers a free service to its users. But before you can use GA, you need to create a new account. GA will create a tracking code that you can copy into the memory of your website. Your website should now be connected with Google Analytics.

However, your site needs traffic in order for GA to do its algorithms and results. Therefore you need to write a post or promote products to start attracting visitors.

  1. Processing data into information

Google Analytics can track a visitor’s location, device, landing page, and behavior while he or she is using your website. In addition, you can see where the visitor came from (Google, Bing, Yelp, etc.). This can help you to spend those pay-per-click marketing dollars wisely.

Kristi Hines suggests in his blog Kissmetrics.com that Google Analytics help you as follows:

  • Find out which online campaigns bring the most traffic and conversions.
  • Determine where your best visitors are located.
  • Learn what people are searching for on your site.
  • Visualize what people click on the most.
  • Uncover your top content.
  • Identify your worst performing pages.
  • Determine where people abandon the shopping cart.
  • Discover if you need a mobile site.

Before you start perusing the pie charts, line graphs, and spreadsheets available in the user interface of Google Analytics, it’s important to figure out what to monitor.

  1. Developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Since you’ve identified what works and what does not work with your website, you need to develop KPIs. A KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, is a metric used to measure performance. Drew Strojny of The Theme Foundry advised that SMEs and bloggers using WordPress to keep the following ideas in mind when identifying website-related KPIs:

  • KPIs should align with business goals. The KPIs related to your website should align with a specific action you want website visitors to take. In many cases, this will be a revenue-impacting action, like contacting you for a quote if you’re a service provider.
  • KPIs should correspond to trackable metrics in Google Analytics. Therefore, when you know what your KPIs are, you should connect each one to a specific tool or tool in Google Analytics.

The top 8 metrics and KPIs that online retailers should take into account with website analytics are according to Natalie Pavlovskaya writing in InstantShift:

  1. Average Order Value (AOV). AOV is considered a key metric by many online retailers, because the higher you can encourage AOV to be, the more income your store will get. The basic calculation is: (Sum of Revenue Generated)/(# of Orders) = Average Order Value
  2. Conversion Rate. The conversion rate tells how effective your store is at closing deals. The basic calculation is: (Number of Sales) / (Number of Visits) = Conversion Rate.
  3. Bounce Rate. Bounce Rate is a percentage of visitors who leave your site immediately, probably because they didn’t find what they were looking or the website was too complicated or annoying to use. The basic calculation is: (Number of visitors who leave immediately) / (Total number of visitors) = Bounce Rate.
  4. Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate. According to the Baymard Institute, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69% (2017). The basic calculation is: (#of people who don’t complete checkout) / (# of people who start checkout) = Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate.
  5. Cost per Acquisition. Cost per Acquisition is a critical marketing metric. It can tell you which campaigns can drive your sales and which will become a costly pile. The basic calculation is: (Total Cost of Marketing Activities) / (# of Conversions) = Cost per Acquisition.
  6. Traffic. Where does your audience come from? Which channels produce the most customers? What social networks, keywords work best for your business?
  7. Net Profit. Net Profit is the actual amount of profit a business generates after all expenses. It tells you the profitability of your ecommerce business after taking all costs into account. The basic calculation is: (Total Revenue) – (Total Expenses) = Net Profit.
  8. Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). Customer Lifetime Value measures the total amount of money a customer spends in a store during his relationship with it. The basic LTV equation: (Average Order Value) x (# of Repeat Sales) x (Average Retention Time).

Once you’ve got the overall picture of your online store’s performance, you’ll need to formulate or change your online business strategy.

  1. Formulating an online strategy

Formulating an actionable online strategy for your business may be your biggest challenge. Sarah Williams Founder & CEO of 816 New York proposed the following steps to develop a Google Analytics Measurement Plan:

  • Step 1. Document your business’s objectives. Ask yourself as a company: Why do we exist? What is the Core Purpose and Vision of the brand itself?
  • Step 2: Identify strategies and tactics. One Strategy you would adopt is to sell products. The tactics that support that strategy, then, might be to sell online through the website, sell items in stores, or sell via a mobile shopping app.
  • Step 3: Choose KPIs. For an e-commerce site, the KPIs (measurements of strategies and tactics) might include monitoring how much revenue has been generated, and the average order value from online and mobile app sales.
  • Step 4: Choose segments. It’s important to segment your data to drill down to its essence. Not all customers are the same, and it’s often helpful to segment your reporting to identify distinct market segments.
  • Step 5: Choose targets. You must define the targets for each KPI. What indicates success? Where can you do better? Isn’t that what you want to find out, after all?
  • Step 6: Implement and control. Monitor the data regularly to adjust your tactics with the trends.

A Google Analytics result page

Concluding

Lastly, one of the greatest advantages having an ecommerce website is that you can measure the activity and the behaviour of users. However, there is no advantage if you don’t measure the performance of your website and marketing strategies. Therefore, make sure that you target the right customers with the right products at the right places, and, o yes – the right prices. For that reason mastering website analytics tools such as Google Analytics may bring you close to achieve all your KPI goals. Good luck with your website analytics!

A last word from Albert Einstein “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Read also:

  1. Predictive Analytics helps Retailers to make sense of Big Data
  2. Marketing Automation is enabled by Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Chatbots

Note

Salini, A., Malavolta, I. and Rossi, F. 2016. Leveraging web analytics for automatically generating mobile navigation models, In Mobile Services (MS), 2016 IEEE International Conference, 103-110.

Images

Pixabay.com

Flickr.com

 

Implementing Social Customer Relationship Management in Retail

One of the most important goals for retailers is to maintain long-term and profitable relationships with their customers. The construct Customer Relationship Management (CRM) started when retailers moved the orientation of their business from their companies to their customers. However, the advent of the internet, Web 2.0, and online social networks have disrupted the traditional way that retailers communicated with their customers.  Hence, Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM) came to the fore because of the emergence of a “social customer”.

Social customers comprise the 2.8 billion* active social media users (Dr Dave Chaffey *, Smart Insights, 27 Apr, 2017). With these billions of social media users, retailers are no longer in control of customer relationships. Instead, customers and their highly influential virtual networks are now driving the conversation, which can trump a retailer’s marketing, sales and service efforts with their unprecedented immediacy and reach 1. However, social media needn’t to be a threat for retailers. Indeed, retailers that learn how to use social media technology to their advantage can gain valuable insights about the demographics and buying behaviour of their customers.

The use of technology for successful Social Customer Relationship Management

Social networks offer retailers practicing Social Customer Relationship Management masses of customers who group themselves around a brand 2. It is here, in these networks, that retailers can study the community’s behavior toward a brand or firm beyond purchase. The data originate from motivational drivers such as word-of-mouth activity, recommendations, customer-to-customer interactions, blogging, and the writing of reviews 3.

But retailers haven’t yet realized the opportunities of using their own data resources for Social Customer Relationship Management. Sandra Gittlen, mentioned  the following recently in CIO: “In an age where most companies have a social media presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram, it’s somewhat surprising that many still haven’t figured out how to turn the data gathered from company-owned properties and broader social media listening tools into automated and actionable intelligence”.

Trainor, Andzulis, Rapp and Agnihotri, (2014) 4 identified four functional blocks enabled by social media technology that are particularly relevant in a CRM context:

  1. Sharing – refers to technologies that support how users exchange, distribute, and receive digital content (e.g., coupons, texts, videos, images, “pins” on Pinterest, etc.). This is similar to the concept of information reciprocity – the activities and processes that encourage customers to interact and share information – which has been shown to positively influence a firm’s ability to manage relationships.
  2. Conversations – represents technologies that facilitate a firm’s interactive dialog with and between customers (e.g., blogs, status updates on Facebook and Twitter, discussion forums, etc.) and capture the information from these dialog.
  3. Relationships – represents the set of technologies that enables customers (and businesses) to build networks of associations with other users (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, Yammer, etc.) and allows organizations to utilize this network information.
  4. Groups – represents the set of technologies that support the development of online user communities centered on specific topics, brands, or products. Examples include SalesForce.com’s Ideaforce and Igloo’s Customer Community application software.

Integrating your Social Customer Relationship Management program with your marketing automation

SCRM deals with the strategies, processes and technologies that retailers can use to link the social web with their CRM strategy. According to Reinhold and Alt, (2012) 5, SCRM poses a challenge for large firms with numerous employees, market offerings and offices. Consequently, they need to discover the relevant conversation threads, synchronize information flows, initiate the appropriate actions and communicate at an individual level within millions of social web conversations.

However integrating SCRM with marketing automation is not impossible – you only need to start right. Malinda Wilkinson (DestinationCRM.com) advises that it’s important that your technology should always follow your process, not precede it. “Without this integration, it is difficult to create a consistent experience for your prospects and customers. And on top of that, too much time and too many resources will be drained trying to coordinate activities to ensure leads don’t fall through the cracks”, concludes Malinda.

Fitting your Social Customer Relationship Management program with your business philosophy

The success of an effective CRM system depends on the background marketing methods and business philosophy 2 of retailers. Therefore customer centricity should become the new strategic goal, where retailers build their brand and image together with their customers.

Linda Shea in AdAge.com proposes the following to become and remain a customer centric company:

  • Executives need direct interaction with customers. The key to executive buy-in, commitment and active support is first-hand knowledge and understanding of what is delivered to the customer, relative to their needs and desires.
  • All employees need to embody the intended customer experience. A narrative must be cascaded down to every single individual in the organization. Your employees must clearly understand their role in delivering the promise the narrative makes to the end customer.
  • Just say “no” to off-strategy ideas. Excitement abounds in most organizations with ideas and fresh thinking that may lead to new revenue streams. However, it is imperative to recognize that customer-centricity is not a destination but rather a multi-faceted, multi-year journey that will require laser-sharp focus, commitment and investment.

Concluding

Retailers that are not with their customers on the social networks will soon run out of customers. The Social Customer Relationship Management construct is customer centric by definition, giving retailers the opportunity, with the aid of marketing automation, to be part of the social media cloud.

Further reading:

  1. Finding Customers in the Vastness of the Internet
  2. Predictive Analytics helps Retailers to make sense of Big Data
  3. Demise of Loyal Retail Customers in the Digital Age

Notes:

1 Heller Baird, C. and Parasnis, G. 2011. From social media to social customer relationship management, Strategy & Leadership, 39(5):30-37.

2 Bagó, P. and Voros, P. 2011. Social customer relationship management, Global Journal of Enterprise Information System, 3(3):35-46.

3 Yoon, K. and Sims, J.D. 2014. Integrating Social Media and Traditional CRM: Toward a Conceptual Framework for Social CRM Practices, Harnessing the Power of Social Media and Web Analytics, IGI Global, Chapter 5:103-131.

4 Trainor, K.J., Andzulis, J.M., Rapp, A. and Agnihotri, R. 2014. Social media technology usage and customer relationship performance: A capabilities-based examination of social CRM, Journal of Business Research, 67(6):1201-1208.

5 Reinhold, O. and Alt, R. 2012. Social Customer Relationship Management: State of the Art and Learnings from Current Projects. In Bled eConference, 155-169.

Image:

Flickr.com

 

Augmented Reality in Retail – a Useful Customer Experience

Not so long from now. There is an eerie quietness in the retail store.  Almost all the customers are wearing identical glasses and head sets, slowly walking through the aisles like humanoid robots. No, it’s not a new episode of Star Trek in the making – this is Augmented Reality (AR) in action.   Retailers are now experimenting with AR to get customers back in the stores.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is the practice of augmenting a real-time direct or indirect view of the physical world with virtual information 1. Scholz and Smith (2016) describe the practice of AR as: “Marketers layering digital information (e.g., text, pictures, and videos) over objects and spaces in the physical world (e.g., product packaging, advertisements, or street scenes). And consumers experiencing these hybridized realities via digital screens (e.g., smart phones or video installations) or projections (e.g., holograms)”.

AR can also be explained as the co-existence of virtual and real in the same space, as well as the interactive alignment and mutual registration of computer generated sources with physical reality 2.

Scholz and Smith (2016) have identified the five ingredients of AR:

  1. AR content – is virtual information that is often perceived by consumers through digital devices (e.g., smart phones, large-screen AR installations);
  2. Users – are the people who directly experience an AR layer. Users can share the same physical space. For example, if a screen displays an augmented view of the street behind a bus stop (e.g., bogus window paradigm). Or they may view the same AR layer while dispersed across different locations – for example, when readers of a magazine access the AR content of an active print;
  3. Bystanders – are people who do not experience an augmentation themselves but instead observe a user’s actions either directly – by sharing the same physical space – or indirectly – by viewing content (e.g., images) that a user has generated during his or her augmented experience. Bystanders can affect users’ willingness to engage in AR experiences because they form the social context of the experience;
  4. Targets – are entities in the physical world that are augmented with digital information. In many cases, targets are objects; for example, a marketer might digitally overlay a brand narrative or ingredient information on product packing. Targets may also be people – for example magic mirrors in fitting rooms that superimpose digital images of their merchandise over live images of customers;
  5. Background – those objects and ambient conditions that share the same physical space as the target, but that are not augmented in this particular AR layer.

AR has the potential to be a life-changing technology application. In a recent interview by Bloomberg, CEO Tim Cook of Apple said: “We’ll all have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.” What is the value of AR for the retailer?

Augmented Reality in retail

AR can help Bricks and Mortar retailers to let their customers enjoy their shopping experience and come back for more. Shauna Heller writing in Media Leaders propose that retailers offer headsets for people to wear while in their stores, to guide people through the store with pop-up characters, animations, or even a virtual assistant right through the visor popping up as people walk around. According to Augment.com, AR helps in the following ways to stop buyer uncertainty:

  • Proximity, presence, and interaction – a customer who is shopping for home furnishings can launch models of a bed or lamp to see how the item would actually look and fit (to scale), rather than playing a guessing game. AR advocates for purchases with more certainty and satisfaction.
  • Modify or customize selections – Augmented Reality makes it easy for consumers to explore their options and make personalized modifications.
  • Visualize or understand products and features – a customer must be able to understand and visualize how a product works and functions. AR augment sophisticated demonstrations that make it easier for customers to visualize and understand the intricate features of a product before they purchase.

AR marketing campaigns open new possibilities for brands to engage and interact with consumers, especially those from social media generations. Yaoyuneyong 3, et al found that AR is “immersive, persuasive and powerful” and the two benefits of AR marketing that they’d identified are:

  1. Enhancing communication by engaging and increasing consumers’ level of immersion and
  2. Improving sales strategy and sales processes.

Also, augmented reality can make a difference to the shopping experience for both online and offline retail customers.

Concluding

After all, it took a game like Pokémon GO and millions of people with smartphones a couple of years ago to bring Augmented Reality under the spotlight. However, the real value of AR is not just for the entertainment of its users, but also as a dynamic marketing tool for retailers.

Remember Pokémon GO?

Further reading

  1. How successful are Retailers in the Omnichannel?
  2. Bricks and Clicks Retail – Shopping Experience makes the Difference

Notes

1 Scholz, J. and Smith, A.N. 2016. Augmented reality: Designing immersive experiences that maximize consumer engagement, Business Horizons, 59(2):149-161.

2 Javornik, A. 2016. Augmented reality: Research agenda for studying the impact of its media characteristics on consumer behaviour, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 30:252-261.

3 Yaoyuneyong, G., Foster, J., Johnson, E. and Johnson, D. 2016. Augmented Reality Marketing: Consumer Preferences and Attitudes Toward Hypermedia Print Ads, Journal of Interactive Advertising, 16(1):16-30.

Image and video

  1. shortfilmwindow.com
  2. Pokémon GO

Personalization of Marketing Communication – not just for your Customer’s sake

Personalization of marketing communication is not just a good practice for retailers, but also a way to help their businesses survive. The advent of the internet has rendered retailers the opportunity to offer their customers products specifically customized for them. This is in direct contrast with mass marketing where the objective is to broadcast product offerings to reach the largest number of people possible.

Personalization of marketing communications is to treat each person as a unique individual with distinctive needs and to provide them with customized solutions 1. To be able to personalize marketing communications, retailers need to learn about the customer’s individual needs and preferences in terms of the types of content that the customer is willing to receive and other person-specific characteristics.

The strategic use of data collected during the online buying process and social media sites may be a good starting point for retailers to know their customers better.

Data – the foundation for the personalization of marketing communication

The digitalization of the entire advertising industry is generating ever increasing amounts of data that must be collected, analysed and interpreted 2.  Lying hidden in all this data is information, potentially useful information that is rarely made explicit or taken advantage of. We must just find the data.

The data we need is right before our eyes. Says Woopra: “Social media interactions, email marketing, landing pages, surveys, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and re-targeted ads are all customer touch points that can tell you about your customer’s needs and interests”.

Once the data are sorted and tabled, retailers can segment and target their customers and also position their products accordingly. However, here the process is done for each customer specifically according the individual’s unique needs, desires and behaviors (customization). So, once customization has been achieved, it makes personalization of marketing communication possible.

Personalized marketing communications used by online retailers

Online shopping has become an important channel for retailers. Unfortunately, it does not afford facile development of an interpersonal relationship or facilitate easy interactions between buyers and sellers 3.  Even worse, many retailers use the online channel to send generic marketing messages via email or text, to the annoyance of their customers. This, however, is not personalized marketing communication.

Retailers need to collect and analyse data about the buying behaviour of individual customers. The profile of the customer will provide guidelines for the retailer how to personalize his/her marketing communication message. Daniel Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group suggests the following ways brands can use data to build personalized marketing tactics:

  • Capture complete data – are you collecting every piece of data that you possibly can? Brands today have more consumer information at their fingertips than ever before, and they can use that data to get to know their customers in depth.
  • Social data – social cues and signals are excellent ways to figure out more about customers than traditional sources like email, demographics, or purchase records.
  • Segmentation – you need to segment your audience into smaller groups for more accurate targeting.

What does a personalized marketing message looks like?

You’ve done all the hard work by sourcing and sorting your customer data. Now it is time to create a personalized marketing message for your customer. Below is an image from GIGYA, a customer identity management agency. The ad shows beauty products that are specifically recommended for a customer with a unique skin type and facial features.

Note that the narrative is in the second person – thus the ad is addressing the individual personally.

The advantages of personalized marketing communications

Retailers that personalize their marketing communication may enjoy the following advantages says Infor Marketing Management:

  1. Improved Return on Investment (ROI) – one study found that personalized website experiences resulted in an average 19% increase in sales. For email, personalization is even more powerful, generating transaction rates and revenue six times higher per email than non-personalized emails.
  2. Outflanking the competition – with personalization, retailers can increase the impact of each interaction to get consumers’ attention and time online – at the cost of the competitors.
  3. Customers expect it – most consumers said it’s important to receive relevant offers when shopping online. And, almost a third wants more personalization during their online shopping experiences, reports Infor Marketing Management.

Concluding

“Personalization is retail’s future; especially as more advanced technologies allow marketers to handle personalization more effectively”, suggests Infor Marketing Management. However, retailers have to invest in the right technology, including marketing automation, CRM, social media management and data analytics tools, as well as more advanced e-commerce platforms.

Bringing the person back into the marketing message may help soften the total onslaught of marketing atomization by means of the internet of things, big data and bots.

Have a peek at this short video from Evergage re personalized marketing communication.

Notes

1 Järvinen, J. and Karjaluoto, H. 2015. The use of Web analytics for digital marketing performance measurement, Industrial Marketing Management, 50:117-127.

2 Grether, M. 2016. Using Big Data for Online Advertising Without Wastage: Wishful Dream, Nightmare or Reality? GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 8(2):38-43.

3 Lee, Y.J., and Dubinsky, A.J. 2017. Consumers’ desire to interact with a salesperson during e-shopping: development of a scale, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 45(1):20-39.

Read also:

  1.  Chatbots in Retailing – a Fact or a Fad?
  2.  Retail and the Internet of Things

Images and video

  1. Pixabay
  2. GIGYA,
  3. Evergage

Word of Mouth Marketing for Better or for Worse

Word of mouth (WOM) is one of the most important communication channels that customers use to discuss retail shops and brands. WOM is informal, frequent and important and the outcomes can be beneficial or disastrous for a brand or a retailer.

Word of mouth has a huge impact on consumer behaviour. Social talk generates over 3.3 billion brand impressions each day and shapes everything from the movies consumers watch to the websites they visit 1. A study by Bughin, Doogan, and Vetvik (2010) 2 suggest that “word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions and generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising”.

However, negative WOM can quickly cause havoc with a brand or a retail shop. The advent of the internet, together with social media platforms has changed how peers communicate their experience with brands and shops.  A single bad experience shared by a customer on a social media website, may hurt your brand or business badly.

For retailers to use WOM strategically as a marketing tool, they must first understand why customers discuss your business. Why do they praise or criticize your brand?

Customer conversations aka ‘word of mouth’

Customers love to talk about their shopping experiences because they need to share and receive information, have social interactions, or express emotions 3.

Lu-Shien, living in San Francisco, USA had this to say on the Yelp review site about a new restaurant in their neighborhood: “The vibe, the serving ware, the food. All of it is presented in a modern fresh bistro style. A simple menu with a few headliner items – just the way I like it.” Maybe Lu-Shien has said enough to fill the restaurant to capacity because WOM is perceived by consumers as more credible than, and free from the bias of, firm-to –consumer communications 4.

Sometimes, however, customer reviews aren’t that positive. Said Ali D, from New Orleans, USA also on Yelp about a clothing store “You know, I’ve bought and sold here a few times over the course of a few years, but today’s experience means I will not be going back. I had questions but could not – really – get the attention of the sales girls, because they were having the ultimate bitchy conversation at full volume in front of several customers.”

Nevertheless, according to Ken Davenport writing in The Producers Perspective, only 8% of brand-related word of mouth conversations are “mostly negative”. Hence, the average online review is 4.3 stars out of 5. But what about the customers saying nothing online, and just walk away from your business? Ken suggests that 9 in 10 word of mouth conversations about brands are offline.

Therefore, there is no respite for retailers keeping their customers happy.

Word of mouth marketing – the retailer’s response

Retailers need to take word of mouth marketing seriously, especially now that is taking place in the cyber space. Silverman (2010) 5 identified the following properties that make word of mouth a powerful marketing tool:

  • Credibility – its independence makes it the most powerful, influential, and persuasive force in the marketplace;
  • It is an experience-delivery mechanism;
  • It becomes part of the product itself;
  • WOM is custom-tailored, more relevant, and complete;
  • It is self-generating, self-breeding, and grows exponentially, sometimes explosively;
  • Because it is virtually unlimited, word of mouth happens fast and big;
  • WOM can originate from a single source, or a relatively small number of sources;
  • It is extremely dependent on the nature of the source;
  • Word of mouth can be very inexpensive to stimulate, amplify, and sustain.

If word of mouth has such a big influence on image and profits, then surely retailers should make it part of the marketing strategy.

Silverman suggests taking advantage of these properties, retailers should look at:

  • What is the content of the word of mouth?
  • Who is originating the word of mouth (its sources)?
  • Who is receiving it?
  • What are the channels through which it travels?

“When we understand the answers to these questions, we’ll be ready to look at how to trigger a chain reaction leading to an explosion: how to get it started, how to amplify it, how to channel it, and how to cause it to go in our direction”, proposes Silverman.

Have a look at this video from The Word of Mouth Marketing Association:

Concluding

Getting people to talk about your brand and shop is the way to go. The most important rule of WOM marketing is to “be interesting” and that “nobody talks about boring companies, boring products, or boring ads.” 6 But, word of mouth also has a sharp end. So, retailers need to make WOM work, like a marriage, ‘for better or for worse’ (preferably for better).

Notes:

1 Berger, J. 2014. Word of mouth and interpersonal communication: A review and directions for future research. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(4):586-607.

2 Bughin, J., Doogan, J. and Vetvik, O.J. 2010. A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing. McKinsey Quarterly, 2:113-116.

3 Lovett, Mitchell J., Renana Peres, and Linli Xu. 2016. There’s No Free Lunch Conversation: The Effect of Brand Advertising on Word of Mouth. Marketing Science Institute.

4 Thomas, V.L. and Saenger, C.  2017. Promoting or protecting my brand: The identity-expression and fear-of-imitation conflict, Journal of Consumer Marketing, 34(1).

5 Silverman, G. 2011. Secrets of word-of-mouth marketing: how to trigger exponential sales through runaway word of mouth, AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.

6 Berger, J. and Schwartz, E.M. 2011. What drives immediate and ongoing word of mouth? Journal of Marketing Research, 48(5):869-880.

Image and video:

  1. Pixabay.com
  2. WOMMA

Pay-Per-Click Advertising – The Landing Page

The landing page is the place where a customer ends up when clicking on a retailer’s pay-per-click ad. It is here where the customer will decide to engage further or to leave the site.

The landing page is so important that Google’s AdWords ranks each advertisers’ landing page. The ranking affects your Ad Rank and therefore your cost-per-click and position in the ad auction.

Starting your landing page

Your customers should have a great experience when arriving at you landing page. Google advise the following:

  1. Offer relevant, useful and original content.
    1. Make sure your landing-page is directly relevant to your ad text and keyword.
    2. Provide useful information on your landing page about whatever you’re advertising.
    3. Try to offer useful features or content that are unique to your site.
  2. Promote transparency and foster trustworthiness on your site.
    1. Openly share information about your business and clearly state what your business does.
    2. Explain your products or services before asking visitors to fill out forms.
    3. Make it easy for visitors to find your contact information.
    4. If you request personal information from customers, make it clear why you’re asking for it and what you’ll do with it.
    5. Distinguish sponsored links, like ads, from the rest of your website’s content.
  3. Make mobile and computer navigation easy
    1. Organize and design your page well, so people don’t have to hunt around for information.
    2. Make it quick and easy for people to order the product mentioned in your ad.
    3. Don’t annoy customers with pop-ups or other features that interfere with their navigation of your site.
    4. Help customers quickly find what they’re looking for by prioritizing the content that’s visible above-the-fold.
  4. Be fast—decrease your landing page loading time
    1. Make sure your landing-page loads quickly once someone clicks on your ad, whether on a computer or mobile device.
    2. Learn how you or your webmaster can use PageSpeed Insights to measure the performance of your landing page.
  5. Make your site (even more) mobile-friendly
    1. See how your site scores on mobile-friendliness and speed, and find out how to improve it.

Getting your landing page wrong can cost you lots of money. Visit eBizplan for help with your digital marketing strategy.

Picture: videezy.com