#thedotties: 3 questions we’ve always wanted to ask our Head of Events

Our annual marketing automation awards is here! With the dotties 2018 now open for entries, we wanted to find out what makes the event a highlight in the industry’s calendar. Who better to ask than the brains behind both the dotmailer Summit and the dotties, our Head of Events and all-round phenomenal woman, Amie Lane. Here’s what she had to say.

1.    What inspired you to start the dotties?

I thought it would be a great chance for us to celebrate our clients and partners and all the amazing work they are creating. It’s a perfect opportunity to showcase our successful clients and help our other clients who need some inspiration into what they could do to better their business – so basically a win win for everyone. Its also a fun night where we can all meet our clients face to face and enjoy an evening full of entertainment and a whole lot of dancing.

2.    The event is back again at the iconic Troxy this year. It’s an impressive space – what makes it perfect for the dotties?

The Troxy is great because it’s so versatile. We can really make it our own and stamp the dotmailer personality on the whole venue, so everyone who walks in there feels connected. The history of the venue is super-interesting too. It started out as one of the first luxury cinemas (back when people used to get dressed up to go to the cinema because it was such a treat!); it was then bought by the Royal Opera House who used it for rehearsals – the acoustics are pretty powerful. In the 80s it was a bingo hall before finally being bought by a couple for their wedding – who still own it and have turned it into an events venue for a whole range of events, TV shows and gigs.

3.    What’s the best thing about the night for you?

Seeing everyone – clients, partners and my colleagues – having a great time, enjoying the food and fizz, laughing with each other and dancing the night away. The dotties is not something to be missed, and it’s free for entrants. So, what are you waiting for?

If you’re a dotmailer customer, you can enter now here!

Find out what the dotties is all about

The post #thedotties: 3 questions we’ve always wanted to ask our Head of Events appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 3 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

It all starts with the next generation

How many times have you been to Pride? I’d say, countless.

Among people that have been doing it since before I was born, the ones I owe so much to, the regulars and the ones that allowed themselves to be there for the first time.

Pride is a day of gratitude, emotions and of course celebration. And yes, people celebrate in different ways. Some like to dance in extravagant outfits on top of moving buses, others (like me) just like to march quietly holding a meaningful sign or t-shirt.

Pride is what you make of it.

My pride celebrates diversity, the right to be and the progress made by our community.

What really moved me this year was seeing few of you bring your children to the parade. It’s to those people I particularly want to say: thank you!

What a great thing to do, take a stand for diversity and inspire the next generation, setting the example. That’s such an astonishing and selfless act which I found simply heart-warming. To show your children that we can walk side by side with those from different paths and to normalise and encourage the right to stand up for equality; it passes on a great lesson.

One day they might have friends, relatives, children come into their lives that may need them to be open-minded. I hope this experience will help them to embrace diversity, be open to feel and be whoever they are without any fear or shame.

I’ve going to leave you with the magic worlds of Hannah Gadsby from her wonderful show ‘Nanette’ currently on Netflix UK.

[…] I believe we could paint a better world if we learned how to see it from all perspectives, as many perspectives as we possibly could.

Because diversity is strength.

Difference is a teacher.

Fear difference, you learn nothing. […]

 

Fancy being a part of our proud and empowered team? Check out our current career opportunities.

The post It all starts with the next generation appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 3 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

The Local SEO’s Guide to the Buy Local Phenomenon: A Competitive Advantage for Clients

Posted by MiriamEllis

Photo credit: Michelle Shirley

What if a single conversation with one of your small local business clients could spark activity that would lead to an increase in their YOY sales of more than 7%, as opposed to only 4% if you don’t have the conversation? What if this chat could triple the amount of spending that stays in their town, reduce pollution in their community, improve their neighbors’ health, and strengthen democracy?

What if the brass ring of content dev, link opportunities, consumer sentiment and realtime local inventory is just waiting for you to grab it, on a ride we just haven’t taken yet, in a setting we’re just not talking about?

Let’s travel a different road today, one that parallels our industry’s typical conversation about citations, reviews, markup, and Google My Business. As a 15-year sailor on the Local SEO ship, I love all this stuff, but, like you, I’m experiencing a merging of online goals with offline realities, a heightened awareness of how in-store is where local business successes are born and bred, before they become mirrored on the web.

At Moz, our SaaS tools serve businesses of every kind: Digital, bricks-and-mortar, SABs, enterprises, mid-market agencies, big brands, and bootstrappers. But today, I’m going to go as small and as local as possible, speaking directly to independently-owned local businesses and their marketers about the buy local/shop local/go local movement and what I’ve learned about its potential to deliver meaningful and far-reaching successes. Frankly, I think you’ll be as amazed as I’ve been.

At the very least, I hope reading this article will inspire you to have a conversation with your local business clients about what this growing phenomenon could do for them and for their communities. Successful clients, after all, are the very best kind to have.

What is the Buy Local movement all about?

What’s the big idea?

You’re familiar with the concept of there being power in numbers. A single independent business lacks the resources and clout to determine the local decisions and policies that affect it. Should Walmart or Target be invited to set up shop in town? Should the crumbling building on Main St. be renovated or demolished? Which safety and cultural services should be supported with funding? The family running the small grocery store has little say, but if they join together with the folks running the bakery, the community credit union, the animal shelter, and the bookstore … then they begin to have a stronger voice.

Who does this?

Buy Local programs formalize the process of independently-owned businesses joining together to educate their communities about the considerable benefits to nearly everyone of living in a thriving local economy. These efforts can be initiated by merchants, Chambers of Commerce, grassroots citizen groups, or others. They can be assisted and supported by non-profit organizations like the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR).

What are the goals?

Through signage, educational events, media promotions, and other forms of marketing, most Buy Local campaigns share some or all of these goals:

  • Increase local wealth that recirculates within the community
  • Preserve local character
  • Build community
  • Create good jobs
  • Have a say in policy-making
  • Decrease environmental impacts
  • Support entrepreneurship
  • Improve diversity/variety
  • Compete with big businesses

Do Buy Local campaigns actually work?

Yes – research indicates that, if managed correctly, these programs yield a variety of benefits to both merchants and residents. Consider these findings:

1) Healthy YOY sales advantages

ILSR conducted a national survey of independent businesses to gauge YOY sales patterns. 2016 respondents reported a good increase in sales across the board, but with a significant difference which AMIBA sums up:

“Businesses in communities with a sustained grassroots “buy independent/buy local” campaign reported a strong 7.4% sales increase, nearly doubling the 4.2% gain for those in areas without such an alliance.”

2) Keeping spending local

The analysts at Civic Economics conducted surveys of 10 cities to gauge the local financial impacts of independents vs. chain retailers, yielding a series of graphics like this one:

While statistics vary from community to community, the overall pattern is one of significantly greater local recirculation of wealth in the independent vs. chain environment. These patterns can be put to good use by Buy Local campaigns with the goal of increasing community-sustaining wealth.

3) Keeping communities employed and safe

Few communities can safely afford the loss of jobs and tax revenue documented in a second Civic Economics study which details the impacts of Americans’ Amazon habit, state by state and across the nation:

While the recent supreme court ruling allowing states to tax e-commerce models could improve some of these dire numbers, towns and cities with Buy Local alliances can speak plainly: Lack of tax revenue that leads to lack of funding for emergency services like fire departments is simply unsafe and unsustainable. A study done a few years back found that ⅔ of volunteer firefighters in the US report that their departments are underfunded with 86% of these heroic workers having to dip into their own pockets to buy supplies to keep their stations going. As I jot these statistics down, there is a runaway 10,000 acre wildfire burning a couple of hours north of me…

Meanwhile, Inc.com is pointing out,

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the end of the Great Recession, small businesses have created 62 percent of all net new private-sector jobs. Among those jobs, 66 percent were created by existing businesses, while 34 percent were generated through new establishments (adjusted for establishment closings and job losses)”.

When communities have Go Local-style business alliances, they are capitalizing on the ability to create jobs, increase sales, and build up tax revenue that could make a serious difference not just to local unemployment rates, but to local safety.

4) Shaping policy

In terms of empowering communities to shape policy, there are many anecdotes to choose from, but one of the most celebrated surrounds a landmark study conducted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance which documented community impacts of spending at the local book and music stores vs. a proposed Borders. Their findings were compelling enough to convince the city not to give a $2.1 million subsidy to the now-defunct corporation.

5) Improving the local environment

A single statistic here is incredibly eye opening. According to the US Department of Transportation, shopping-related driving per household more than tripled between 1969-2009.

All you have to do is picture to yourself the centralized location of mainstreet businesses vs. big boxes on the outskirts of town to imagine how city planning has contributed to this stunning rise in time spent on the road. When residents can walk or bike to make daily purchases, the positive environmental impacts are obvious.

6) Improving residents’ health and well-being

A recent Cigna survey of 20,000 Americans found that nearly half of them always or sometimes feel lonely, lacking in significant face-to-face interactions with others. Why does this matter? Because the American Psychological Association finds that you have a 50% less chance of dying prematurely if you have quality social interactions.

There’s a reason author Jan Karon’s “Mitford” series about life in a small town in North Carolina has been a string of NY Times Best Sellers; readers and reviewers continuously state that they yearn to live someplace like this fictitious community with the slogan “Mitford takes care of its own”. In the novels, the lives of residents, independent merchants, and “outsiders” interweave, in good times and bad, creating a support network many Americans envy.

This societal setup must be a winner, as well as a bestseller, because the Cambridge Journal of Regions published a paper in which they propose that the concentration of small businesses in a given community can be equated with levels of public health.

Beyond the theory that eating fresh and local is good for you, it turns out that knowing your farmer, your banker, your grocer could help you live longer.

7) Realizing big-picture goals

Speaking of memorable stories, this video from ILSR does a good job of detailing one view of the ultimate impacts independent business alliances can have on shaping community futures:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=150&=&v=kDw4dZLSDXg

I interviewed author and AMIBA co-founder, Jeff Milchen, about the good things that can happen when independents join hands. He summed it up,

“The results really speak for themselves when you look at what the impact of public education for local alliances has been in terms of shifting culture. It’s a great investment for independent businesses to partner with other independents, to do things they can’t do individually. Forming these partnerships can help them compete with the online giants.”

Getting going with a Go Local campaign, the right way

If sharing some of the above with clients has made them receptive to further exploration of what involvement in an independent business alliance might do for them, here are the next steps to take:

  1. First, find out if a Go Local/Shop Local/Buy Local/Stay Local campaign already exists in the business’ community. If so, the client can join up.
  2. If not, contact AMIBA. The good folks there will know if other local business owners in the client’s community have already expressed interest in creating an alliance. They can help connect the interested parties up.
  3. I highly, highly recommend reading through Amiba’s nice, free primer covering just about everything you need to know about Go Local campaigns.
  4. Encourage the client to publicize their intent to create an alliance if none exists in their community. Do an op ed in the local print news, put it on social media sites, talk to neighbors. This can prompt outreach from potential allies in the effort.
  5. A given group can determine to go it alone, but it may be better to rely on the past experience of others who have already created successful campaigns. AMIBA offers a variety of paid community training modules, including expert speakers, workshops, and on-site consultations. Each community can write in to request a quote for a training plan that will work best for them. The organization also offers a wealth of free educational materials on their website.
  6. According to AMIBA’s Jeff Milchen, a typical Buy Local campaign takes about 3-4 months to get going.

It’s important to know that Go Local campaigns can fail, due to poor execution. Here is a roundup of practices all alliances should focus on to avoid the most common pitfalls:

  1. Codify the definition of a “local” business as being independently-owned-and-run, or else big chain inclusion will anger some members and cause them to leave.
  2. Emphasize all forms of local patronage; campaigns that stick too closely to words like “buy” or “shop” overlook the small banks, service area businesses, and other models that are an integral part of the independent local economy.
  3. Ensure diversity in leadership; an alliance that fails to reflect the resources of age, race, gender/identity, political views, economics and other factors may wind up perishing from narrow viewpoints. On a related note, AMIBA has been particularly active in advocating for business communities to rid themselves of bigotry. Strong communities welcome everyone.
  4. Do the math of what success looks like; education is a major contributing factor to forging a strong alliance, based on projected numbers of what campaigns can yield in concrete benefits for both merchants and residents.
  5. Differentiate inventory and offerings so that independently-owned businesses offer something of added value which patrons can’t easily replicate online; this could be specialty local products, face-to-face time with expert staff, or other benefits.
  6. Take the high road in inspiring the community to increase local spending; campaigns should not rely on vilifying big and online businesses or asking for patronage out of pity. In other words, guilt-tripping locals because they do some of their shopping at Walmart or Amazon isn’t a good strategy. Even a 10% shift towards local spending can have positive impacts for a community!
  7. Clearly assess community resources; not every town, city, or district hosts the necessary mix of independent businesses to create a strong campaign. For example, approximately 2.2% of the US population live in “food deserts”, many miles from a grocery store. These areas may lack other local businesses, as well, and their communities may need to create grassroots campaigns surrounding neighborhood gardens, mobile markets, private investors and other creative solutions.

In sum, success significantly depends on having clear definitions, clear goals, diverse participants and a proud identity as independents, devoid of shaming tactics.

Circling back to the Web — our native heath!

So, let’s say that your incoming client is now participating in a Buy Local program. Awesome! Now, where do we go from here?

In speaking with Jeff Milchen, I asked what he has seen in terms of digital marketing being used to promote the businesses involved in Buy Local campaigns. He said that, while some alliances have workshops, it’s a work in progress and something he hopes to see grow in the future.

As a Local SEO, that future is now for you and your fortunate clients. Here are some ways I see this working out beautifully:

Basic data distribution and consistency

Small local businesses can sometimes be unaware of inconsistent or absent local business listings, because the owners are just so busy. The quickest way I know to demo this scenario is to plug the company name and zip into the free Moz Check Listing tool to show them how they’re doing on the majors. Correct data errors and fill in the blanks, either manually, or, using affordable software like Moz Local. You’ll also want to be sure the client has a presence on any geo or industry-specific directories and platforms. It’s something your agency can really help with!

A hyperlocalized content powerhouse

Build proud content around the company’s involvement in the Buy Local program.

  • Write about all of the economic, environmental, and societal benefits residents can support by patronizing the business.
  • Motivated independents take time to know their customers. There are stories in this. Write about the customers and their needs. I’ve even seen independent restaurants naming menu items after beloved patrons. Get personal. Build community.
  • Don’t forget that even small towns can be powerful points of interest for tourists. Create a warm welcome for travelers, and for new neighbors, too!

Link building opportunities of a lifetime

Local business alliances form strong B2B bonds.

  • Find relationships with related businesses that can sprout links. For example, the caterer knows the wedding cake baker, who knows the professional seamstress, who knows the minister, who knows the DJ, who knows the florist.
  • Dive deep into opportunities for sponsoring local organizations, teams and events, hosting and participating in workshops and conferences, offering scholarships and special deals.
  • Make fast friends with local media. Be newsworthy.

A wellspring of sentiment

Independents form strong business-to-community bonds.

  • When a business really knows its customers, asking for online reviews is so much easier. In some communities, it may be necessary to teach customers how to leave reviews, but once you get a strategy going for this, the rest is gravy.
  • It’s also a natural fit for asking for written and video testimonials to be published on the company website.
  • Don’t forget the power of Word of Mouth Marketing, while you’re at it. Loyal patrons are an incredible asset.
  • The one drawback could be if your business model is one of a sensitive nature. Tight-knit communities can be ones in which residents may be more desirous of protecting their privacy.

Digitize inventory easily

30% of consumers say they’d buy from a local store instead of online if they knew the store was nearby (Google). Over half of consumers prefer to shop in-store to interact with products (Local Search Association). Over 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over the competition (Bright Local).

It all adds up to the need for highly-authentic independently-owned businesses to have an online presence that signals to Internet users that they stock desired products. For many small, local brands, going full e-commerce on their website is simply too big of an implementation and management task. It’s a problem that’s dogged this particular business sector for years. And it’s why I got excited when the folks at AMIBA told me to check out Pointy.

Pointy offers a physical device that small business owners can attach to their barcode scanner to have their products ported to a Pointy-controlled webpage. But, that’s not all. Pointy integrates with the “See What’s In Store” inventory function of Google My Business Knowledge Panels. Check out Talbot’s Toyland in San Mateo, CA for a live example.

Pointy is a startup, but one that is exciting enough to have received angel investing from the founder of WordPress and the co-founder of Google Maps. Looks like a real winner to me, and it could provide a genuine answer for brick-and-mortar independents who have found their sales staggering in the wake of Amazon and other big digital brands.

Local SEOs have an important part to play

Satisfaction in work is a thing to be cherished. If the independent business movement speaks to you, bringing your local search marketing skills to these alliances and small brands could make more of your work days really good days.

The scenario could be an especially good fit for agencies that have specialized in city or state marketing. For example, one of our Moz Community members confines his projects to South Carolina. Imagine him taking it on the road a bit, hosting and attending workshops for towns across the state that are ready to revitalize main street. An energetic client roster could certainly result if someone like him could show local banks, grocery stores, retail shops and restaurants how to use the power of the local web!

Reading America

Our industry is living and working in complex times.

The bad news is, a current Bush-Biden poll finds that 8/10 US residents are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about the state of democracy in our nation.

The not-so-bad news is that citizen ingenuity for discovering solutions and opportunities is still going strong. We need only look as far as the runaway success of the TV show “Fixer Upper”, which drew 5.21 million viewers in its fourth season as the second-largest telecast of Q2 of that year. The show surrounded the revitalization of dilapidated homes and businesses in and around Waco, Texas, and has turned the entire town into a major tourist destination, pulling in millions of annual visitors and landing book deals, a magazine, and the Magnolia Home furnishing line for its entrepreneurial hosts.

While not every town can (or would want to) experience what is being called the “Magnolia effect”, channels like HGTV and the DIY network are heavily capitalizing on the rebirth of American communities, and private citizens are taking matters into their own hands.

There’s the family who moved from Washington D.C. to Water Valley, Mississippi, bought part of the decaying main street and began to refurbish it. I found the video story of this completely riveting, and look at the Yelp reviews of the amazing grocery store and lunch counter these folks are operating now. The market carries local products, including hoop cheese and milk from the first dairy anyone had opened in 50 years in the state.

There are the half-dozen millennials who are helping turn New Providence, Iowa into a place young families can live and work again. There’s Corning, NY, Greensburg, KS, Colorado Springs, CO, and so many more places where people are eagerly looking to strengthen community sufficiency and sustainability.

Some marketing firms are visionary forerunners in this phenomenon, like Deluxe, which has sponsored the Small Business Revolution show, doing mainstreet makeovers that are bringing towns back to life. There could be a place out there somewhere on the map of the country, just waiting for your agency to fill it.

The best news is that change is possible. A recent study in Science magazine states that the tipping point for a minority group to change a majority viewpoint is 25% of the population. This is welcome news at a time when 80% of citizens are feeling doubtful about the state of our democracy. There are 28 million small businesses in the United States – an astonishing potential educational force – if communities can be taught what a vote with their dollar can do in terms of giving them a voice. As Jeff Milchen told me:

One of the most inspiring things is when we see local organizations helping residents to be more engaged in the future of their community. Most communities feel somewhat powerless. When you see towns realize they have the ability to shift public policy to support their own community, that’s empowering.”

Sometimes, the extremes of our industry can make our society and our democracy hard to read. On the one hand, the largest brands developing AI, checkout-less shopping, driverless cars, same-day delivery via robotics, and the gig economy win applause at conferences.

On the other hand, the public is increasingly hearing the stories of employees at these same companies who are protesting Microsoft developing face recognition for ICE, Google’s development of AI drone footage analysis for the Pentagon, working conditions at Amazon warehouses that allegedly preclude bathroom breaks and have put people in the hospital, and the various outcomes of the “Walmart Effect”.

The Buy Local movement is poised in time at this interesting moment, in which our democracy gets to choose. Gigs or unions? Know your robot or know your farmer? Convenience or compassion? Is it either/or? Can it be both?

Both big and small brands have a major role to play in answering these timely questions and shaping the ethics of our economy. Big brands, after all, have tremendous resources for raising the bar for ethical business practices. Your agency likely wants to serve both types of clients, but it’s all to the good if all business sectors remember that the real choosers are the “consumers”, the everyday folks voting with their dollars.

I know that it can be hard to find good news sometimes. But I’m hoping what you’ve read today gifts you with a feeling of optimism that you can take to the office, take to your independently-owned local business clients, and maybe even help take to their communities. Spark a conversation today and you may stumble upon a meaningful competitive advantage for your agency and its most local customers.

Every year, local SEOs are delving deeper and deeper into the offline realities of the brands they serve, large and small. We’re learning so much, together. It’s sometimes a heartbreaker, but always an honor, being part of this local journey.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

6 ways to target ecommerce customers with SMS and email

SMS marketing provides brands with the opportunity to craft an immediate personal relationship with customers, but many are yet to incorporate the channel. With consumers running the game when it comes to tech adoption, those that act fast will stake a claim in the mobile inbox – leaving others at the back of the queue.

Today’s empowered consumer challenges us to provide exceptional brand experiences. Each interaction needs to be packed with all the contextual relevancy and personalization we now receive in our digital lives. Moreover, consumers are fully aware that they leave data breadcrumbs everywhere they go. And they expect them to be used to make their experience better.

To keep up with on-the-go consumers, marketers (firstly) need to utilize powerful technology and leverage the right data. Secondly, they need to compose brilliant, meaningful messages that compel customers to act fast. Adding complementary channels to support your email marketing efforts means you can reach the right customer through their most relevant channel. At dotmailer, we think this omnichannel expansion starts with SMS.

Multiracial hipster friends couple having fun with smartphone in subway train – Urban relationship concept with young people watching mobile phone in city underground area – Bright desaturated filter

There’s no better way to reach every customer than by bringing together the two giants in communication: SMS and email marketing automation. More than 5 billion people will own a mobile by 2019. Plus, eMarketer expects total US retail mcommerce sales will grow a further 32.7% in 2018. And with email boasting a healthy £38 return for every £1 spent, the numbers paint a healthy picture for investment. Both mediums provide much more bang for their buck compared to, say, paid media, giving you back valuable resources to spend as you see fit.

Combining these two push channels nurtures that all-important 360° customer view. Plus, you can add relevance and granularity to your strategy when you tailor your engagements to the individual. Choosing a tech provider with SMS baked in means you can add the channel to your strategy with ease – and scale quickly.

We’ve put together 6 prime use-cases for the SMS/email partnership, along with some ideas for your multi-channel campaigns:

1. Shipping/updates

Using automation to deliver a dual-channel transactional strategy is the best way to keep customers up-to-date with their purchases and deliver exceptional customer service. If you’re using an ESP like dotmailer, you can trigger SMS messages – like dispatch alerts – using the SMS service. Automate your key transactional communications through your email provider to keep all your analytics in one place.

2. Customer feedback surveys

If you’re looking for a quick way to gauge the experience your customer has received, a quick SMS survey could be just the ticket. Get feedback on your transactional emails by asking customers to reply with a number between one and ten. Quick, easy and informative!

3. Reminders and alerts

Slotting SMS extensions into your automation programs enables you to deliver emails and SMS at appropriate points along an individual customer’s journey – but at mass scale. Appointment reminders and expiry prompts are just two examples of SMS notifications that you can automate.

4. Personalized offers/marketing campaigns

In a recent survey conducted by Narvar, US online shoppers from every age group from 12-65 admitted to preferring to receive text messages over push notifications from retailers regarding their orders. The story runs parallel in the UK, with 67% of  internet users aged 18-34 stating they like receiving relevant brand offers and promotions via SMS.

Offer-led messages are more likely to strike the right chord with customers if they’re carefully considered and well-timed. Consider this use case: An existing customer browses and ‘favorites’ a sale item on your website; she leaves the website without buying, so your automation program triggers an ‘abandoned browse’ email to the customer to remind her of product she’s flagged – you could also include the date that your sale ends. If the customer doesn’t return after a chosen period, delivering an SMS to reminder her that her favorite item will soon be full price might just do the trick. You could even offer the customer an exclusive SMS discount to bring them over the line.

5. New product updates

Got a new mobile app or an upgrade to your service? These brand landmarks are worth telling your customers about and an SMS could be the ideal way to spread the good news. If you’re communicating your new app, including a CTA link to a download page helps the recipient instantly get the goods.

6. Loyalty

VIP customers deserve VIP treatment. They already feel affinity for your brand and, in some cases, may be true advocates who are sharing the positive experiences with their peers.

Loyalty reward emails containing time-sensitive content are often best backed up with SMS reminders. Updates about new points earned or those that are due to expire are a good way to show that you know and respect your customer; Think too about optimizing the conversion period for valuable customers with SMS alerts about exclusive sales access.

dotmailer SMS

SMS is an effective marketing tool that enables you to cut through the noise when other channels can’t. 54% of US retailers plan to expand their unified commerce (omnichannel initiatives) over the next 18 months, the top answer for those surveyed. It’s never been more important to get ahead of the competition.

dotmailer’s integrated global SMS service works in 156 countries, helping you amplify your automation strategy with timely and contextually relevant communication. Check it out for yourself!

Want to see what you can do with SMS? Take a quick demo.

 

The post 6 ways to target ecommerce customers with SMS and email appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Boost your ecommerce success with dynamic pricing

The goal of every single ecommerce retailer is to find a solid way that leads them to improve their business. Personalized and segmented emails, delivering a great user experience and customer support, publishing good performing ads… The list goes on. All of these efforts have a great impact on the success of an online business. But in this article, we would like to tap into a mysterious area – having an effective pricing strategy through dynamic pricing to boost ecommerce success.

While dynamic pricing is not a completely new approach, ecommerce retailers have been using it more of late. Most of them were randomly optimizing their prices and changing them manually based on internal decisions. However, because of the increase in online price competition, and thanks to greater market intelligence and sophisticated dynamic pricing software, ecommerce retailers have realized the importance and the impact of dynamic pricing on their businesses.

What is dynamic pricing?

In basic terms, dynamic pricing is a pricing approach that enables you to set flexible prices by taking into account your costs, desired profit margins, the demand of the market and your competitors’ prices. In other words, you’ll be able to set the optimal price at the right time in response to real-time demand and competition status, while taking into account your business goals.

Why is dynamic pricing important?

The most apparent case is retail giant Amazon, who changes and updates its prices every 10 minutes and increased its revenues by 27.2%. Another big player, Walmart, adopted dynamic pricing and changed its prices 50,000 times a month. Using this pricing model, its sales jumped by 30% in 2013.

Dynamic pricing also lets retailers have additional and valuable insights on industry trends. Ecommerce retailers can apply different price limits and analyze price elasticities before deciding the optimal product price. A great way of testing and optimizing your prices is through paid ads. For example, Google Shopping provides instant data on how online shoppers are responding to your new price. You can analyze conversion rates, impressions, CTRs and margins after changing prices. By making continuous tests, you can find the optimal price.

The benefits of using a dynamic pricing strategy are abundant: improved margins and revenues; better conversion; control on the market; personalized prices based on season, demand and demographic; and presence in price comparison engines. As such, your prices always stay competitive and optimized in the ecommerce market.

Dynamic pricing use-case scenarios

If you are managing an ecommerce store, you should seriously consider adopting a dynamic pricing model with the right technology, since it has a significant impact on business success.

Here are some proven dynamic pricing use-cases that you can face in your industry:

  • Demand-based pricing

If the general or seasonal demand for your product is at low level, then you have to eliminate the excess stock in order to get rid of the extra costs. The most common practice is to drop prices as low as possible to increase sales.

On the other hand, if demand is high in the market (it can be a seasonal effect or instant hypes), it would be great to increase your prices for the purpose of boosting profits.

So in a nutshell, demand-based pricing lets you benefit from demand fluctuations in the market like increasing prices when demand is high or when your competitors’ products are out of stock.

Identifying your competitors’ out-of-stock products – through a competitor price monitoring tool, Amazon Bestseller, or tracking Google Trends – would give you great insight in understanding market demand and the most popular products over a certain time period.

Moreover, ecommerce retailers can apply a dynamic pricing strategy for some seasonal opportunities that occur during the holidays or shopping frenzies.

  • Time-based pricing

Time-based pricing is a dynamic pricing approach which enables ecommerce retailers to optimize their prices based on certain times of a day, month, year or the lifespan of a product in the market.

Different to demand-based pricing, as time is the core element rather than instant hypes in demand, the time-based pricing model is more predictable.

Let’s go through some real examples. The most popular industry using the time-based pricing approach is airline ticket providers. You should definitely notice that airline ticket prices are much higher in holiday seasons when compared with a regular season in the year.

Time-based pricing also works well if a product is outdated. Electronics brands use this strategy to increase the demand for an old version of a product. Whenever Apple releases a new version of a product, the price of an old version is marked down for the purpose of attracting more customers.

Through time-based pricing, you’ll always be aware of market trends as well as what your rivals are offering. With that intelligence you can always know where and when to decrease or increase your prices.

  • Competitive pricing

There are hundreds of competitors in the market and they adjust their prices continuously. That’s why you should also monitor them and take actions based on the pricing competition in the market.

If you deny your competitors then you won’t know if you’re priced too high or too low among them. That lack of information causes you to detach from the market.

In that scenario, you’ll face low conversion rates or slim margins which harm your sales and business growth. This is because your competitors are acting competitively and are more aware of market trends.

Do you know why?

The statistics show that majority of online shoppers compare prices before finalizing their purchase by visiting at least 3 online stores. Moreover, most of them name price as the very first criteria for their purchasing decision.

In a nutshell, because of price competition in the ecommerce space, online pricing becomes one of the key elements that influences the purchasing decision. So, retailers should be very attentive with their management and optimization.

Think about a scenario in which one of your competitors applies discounts and undercuts your pricing. With dynamic pricing, you can automatically react to its discounting strategy and regain your competitive status again.

Your prices may be too competitive when compared to your closest rival. So, even an increase of 10% or 20% won’t harm your competitiveness in the market. To grab at this opportunity, you need fresh competitor intelligence and dynamic pricing. By investing in both, you will be able to retain your competitiveness and increase your profit margin.

How to ‘really’ apply dynamic pricing to your strategy?

As mentioned above, Amazon is a huge fan of repricing!

Now let’s see how to apply this smart strategy!

Having tons of data is great. But, the crucial thing is to convert data into actionable insights. Fortunately, there are dynamic pricing and repricing software in the market that help you to generate recommendations from the data that you’ve collected from competitors. Then, the technology lets you calculate optimal prices through repricing rules that you’ve set based on your competitors’ prices, market demand and costs.

Once the optimal price rules are set, then you can enjoy the rest! The repricing engine works all day and your prices will be changed according to the fluctuations in the market and, of course, based on the rules that you’ve set. With the mix of competitive intelligence and repricing ability, your business can gain a seamless competitive advantage in the market. As you’re able to react to every single move in the market, your prices will always stay competitive or optimized.

Let’s give an actual example:

There are two different retailers competing in the same category:

  • The first retailer named ‘Great E-Commerce Retailer’ is selling all types of products from almost every category (electronics, home & kitchen appliances, fashion products, sports products,… the list goes on…)
  • The second retailer named ‘Super Sport Retailer’ specializes in the sports category.

Then, imagine that these retailers are competing harshly over price in the ‘football shoes vertical’. To take advantage of repricing technology and find the most optimal price, the below rule for Super Sport Retailer can be set;

My prices for every product under ‘football shoes category’ should be 10% lower

+

than ‘Great E-Commerce Retailer’

+

but they should be at least 15% higher than my costs

After setting this rule and assigning it in the repricing engine, ‘Super Sport Retailer’ will always have competitive prices in the football shoe category that won’t veer lower than its costs.

Repricing in ecommerce is key to remain competitive and grow your business online.

So, what are your thoughts on dynamic pricing and repricing? Have you ever tried it on your ecommerce store? If yes, what are your experiences? Please don’t hesitate to share all of them with us at Prisync.

The post Boost your ecommerce success with dynamic pricing appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

#thedotties is here: ENTER NOW!

dotmailer is back with the marketing awards ceremony of the year: the dotties. Join us for an evening of marketing excellence on November 1st 2018 at the iconic London venue, Troxy!

As always, expect an incredible celebrity host, a sparkling reception, heaps of entertainment and an unrivalled dance party. It’s not just marketing automation we boss!

We’ve put together this handy blog of everything you need to know to win a dotties award this year:

1.    WTF is the dotties?

The dotties is a marketing automation awards ceremony – we like to think of it as THE marketing awards ceremony – that commends the movers and shakers shaping the industry today. The dotties winners represent those people, brands, agencies and partners behind the most powerful campaigns created in the dotmailer platform.

2.    What makes a dotties winner?

Good question! Powerful projects, successful strategies and compelling campaign creatives. Check out our list of categories for this year – we guarantee there’s one with your name slapped all over it.

3.    When can I enter?

RIGHT NOW 🙂

Entries are now open, we’re poised and ready to receive your submissions like a crouching tiger with a hidden dragon inside.

4.    What’s new this year?

This year we’ve made it even easier for you to enter the awards. Now you can save, edit and submit your entries on our dotties platform. Plus, you can collaborate on your entry with multiple members of your team. Take your time, make it perfect and win big!

5.    What’s the competition looking like?

We’re hoping that the dotties 2018 will have more entries than ever before. This year, we’ve worked with brands on stunning creatives and compelling strategies – so we want the judges to see what our customers are made of. If you’re interested in seeing who picked up awards last year, check out our dotties 2017 winners blog.

6.    When is it again?

1st November 2018. Find out more about entering.

 

The post #thedotties is here: ENTER NOW! appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

4 tips to perfectly target your customers

AI is a buzzword in marketing right now. For marketers like you, battling these everyday challenges, it acts as a shining light at the end of the tunnel. With any luck, when it comes, AI will be the end of all your marketing woes, helping you deliver content to the right person at the right time. But, before these dreams become the reality, don’t miss a trick and let today’s potential customers pass you by; make sure you’re targeting customers with smart, data-driven automation tactics.

We’ve put together a cheatsheet outlining four top tips to help you reach the next stage of your marketing journey. Have a sneak peek here:

1)   Get to know your customers

Customers’ expectations of brands are changing. They don’t want to waste their time looking at content that isn’t relevant to them. Get to know them as quickly as possible by building a preference center – the email equivalent of a handshake. By getting prospects and customers to tell you about themselves, they’re giving you a treasure trove of data to help keep your communications super-relevant.

77% of consumers expect brands to use the data in their profiles to personalize their marketing emails. In fact, they prefer it, so make the most of it!

2)   Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation

Segmentation is the key to getting the right message to the right person. While it’s not a new practice, there are still many brands out there that are only employing basic segmentation tactics. With dotmailer your segmentation knows no limits. You have access to a vast number customer of insights, including behavioral web and order-based data.

When thinking about segmentation consider things like page views or order histories to create rich, sophisticated behavior-driven groups. dotmailer’s drag-and-drop segment builder makes targeting your customers easier than ever before.

Remember: Campaigns that use segmentation typically have a 50% higher click rate. There’s really no reason not to do it.

3)   Extend your reach

Sadly, not every one of your subscribers will be responsive to your email marketing. But these contacts aren’t lost to you. It’s time to start exploring other channels.

90% of text messages are read within three minutes. With this extremely high level of engagement, it’s important not to overload contacts with useless content that pushes them further away from you. Enticing them with a unique discount code or free delivery is a great use of this channel to encourage conversion.

SMS is not only a channel for unresponsive customers though. Transactional communications are a perfect way to remind customers that you’re thinking about how to make things simpler for them, such as letting them know when to expect a delivery.  When you’re being helpful your customers are going to have a much better experience.

4)   Bring them back into the fold

Re-targeting is an essential tactic in today’s digital age. These customers have already expressed an interest in your brand. Half the battle is over. Websites alone have an average conversion rate of 2%, re-targeting gives brands a second chance to convert the remaining 98%. By keeping an eye on abandoned carts and abandoned browses, you can target customers with super-relevant content and making them 70% more likely to convert.

Through dotmailer, contacts can be auto-added to Google AdWords and Facebook Audience campaigns.

 

 

To find out more about bringing all these tips together into perfectly automated campaigns download the cheatsheet now.

Want to know more? Register today for our next #dotlive

Join us on Wednesday 11 July and learn how perfecting your marketing automation tactics can bring you closer to incorporating AI into your marketing strategy.

As well as learning about planning for the future, we have plenty of free breakfast treats for you and a chance to win dotmailer goodies on the day. After all, who said learning can’t be fun?

The post 4 tips to perfectly target your customers appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

How to Optimize Car Dealership Websites

Posted by sherrybonelli

Getting any local business to rank high on Google is becoming more and more difficult, but one of the most competitive — and complex — industries for local SEO are car dealerships. Today’s car shoppers do much of their research online before they even step into a dealership showroom. (And many people don’t even know what type of car they even want when they begin their search.)

According to Google, the average car shopper only visits two dealerships when they’re searching for a new vehicle. That means it’s even more important than ever for car dealerships to show up high in local search results.

However, car dealerships are more complex than the average local business — which means their digital marketing strategies are more complex, as well. First, dealers often sell new vehicles from several different manufacturers with a variety of makes and models. Next, because so many people trade in their old cars when they purchase new cars, car dealers also sell a variety of used vehicles from even more manufacturers. Additionally, car dealerships also have a service department that offers car maintenance and repairs — like manufacturer warranty work, oil changes, tire rotations, recall repairs, and more. (The search feature on a car dealer’s website alone is a complex system!)

Essentially, a car dealer is like three businesses in one: they sell new cars, used cars, AND do vehicle repairs. This means your optimization strategy must also be multi-faceted, too.

Also, if you look at the car dealerships in your city, you will probably find at least one dealership with multiple locations. These multi-location family of dealerships may be in the same city or in surrounding cities.

Additionally, depending on that family of dealerships, they may have one website or they might have different websites for each location. (Many auto manufacturers require dealers to have separate websites if they sell certain competitors’ vehicles.)

So if you’re helping car dealers with SEO, you must be thinking about the various manufacturers, the types of vehicles being sold (new and used), the repair services being offered, the number of websites and locations you’ll be managing, manufacturer requirements — among other things.

So what are some of the search optimization strategies you should use when working with a car dealership? Here are some SEO recommendations.

Google My Business

Google My Business has been shown to have a direct correlation to local SEO — especially when it comes to showing up in the Google Local 3-Pack.

One important factor with Google My Business is making sure that the dealership’s information is correct and contains valuable information that searchers will find helpful. This is important for competitive markets — especially when only a handful of sites show up on the first page of Google search results. Here are some key Google My Business features to take advantage of:

Name, address, and phone number

Ensure that the dealership’s name, address and phone number is correct. (If you have a toll-free number, make sure that your LOCAL area code phone number is the one listed on your Google My Business listing.) It’s important that this information is the same on all local online directories that the dealership is listed on.

Categories

Google My Business allows you to select categories (a primary category and additional categories) to describe what your dealership offers. Even though the categories you select affect local rankings, keep in mind that the categories are just one of many factors that determine how you rank in search results.

  • These categories help connect you with potential customers that are searching for what your car dealership sells. You can select a primary category and additional categories – but don’t go overboard by selecting too many categories. Be specific. Choose as few categories as possible to describe the core part of your dealership’s business.
  • If the category you want to use isn’t available, choose a general category that’s still accurate. You can’t create your own categories. Here are some example categories you could use:
    • Car Dealer
    • Used Car Dealer
    • BMW dealer
  • Keep in mind that if you’re not ranking as high as you want to rank, changing your categories may improve your rankings. You might need to tweak your categories until you get it right. If you add or edit one of your categories, you might be asked by Google to verify your business again. (This just helps Google confirm that your business information is accurate.)

Photos

Google uses photo engagement on Google My Business to help rank businesses in local search. Show photos of the new and used cars you have on your dealership’s lot — and be sure to update them frequently. After you make a sale, make sure you get a photo consent form signed and ask if you can take a picture of your happy customers with their new car to upload to Google My Business (and your other social media platforms.)

If you’re a digital marketing agency or a sales manager at a dealership, getting your salespeople to upload photos to Google My Business can be challenging. Steady Demand’s LocalPics tool makes it easy for salespeople to send pictures of happy customers in their new cars by automatically sending text message reminders. You simply set the frequency of these reminders. The LocalPics tool automatically sends text messages to the sales reps reminding them to submit their photos:

All the sales reps have to do is save their customers’ photos to their phone. You set up text message reminders to each sales rep and when they get the text message reminder, the sales team simply has to go into their smartphone’s pictures and upload their images through the text message, and the photos are automatically posted to the dealership’s Google My Business listing! (They can also text photos to their Google My Business anytime they want as well — they don’t have to wait for the reminder text messages.)

Videos

Google recently began allowing businesses to upload 30-second videos to their Google My Business listing. Videos are a great way to show off the uniqueness of your dealership. These videos auto-play on mobile devices — which is where many people do their car searching on — so you should include several videos to showcase the cars and what’s going on at your dealership.

Reviews

Online reviews are crucial for when people search for the right type of car AND the dealership they should purchase that car from. Make sure you ask happy customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing and ensure that you keep up by responding to all reviews left on your Google My Business listing.

Questions & Answers

The Google My Business Q&A feature has been around for several months, yet many businesses still don’t know about it — or pay attention to it. It’s important that you are constantly looking at questions that are being asked of your dealership and that you promptly answer those questions with the correct answer.

Just like most things on Google My Business, anyone can answer questions that are asked — and that means that it’s easy for misinformation to get out about your dealership and the cars on your lot. Make sure you have a person dedicated on your team to watch the Q&As being asked on your listing.

Also, be sure to frequently check your GMB dashboard. Remember, virtually anyone can make changes to your Google My Business listing. You want to check to make sure nobody has changed your information without you knowing.

Online directories (especially car directories)

If you’re looking for ways to improve your dealership’s rankings and backlink profile, online automotive directories are a great place to start. Submitting your dealership’s site to an online automotive directory or to an online directory that has an automotive category can help build your backlink profile. Additionally, many of these online directories show up on the first page of Google search results, so if your dealership isn’t listed on them, you’re missing out.

There are quite a few paid-for and free automotive online directories. Yelp, YellowPages, Bing, etc. are some of the larger general online directories that have dedicated automotive categories you can get listed on for free. Make sure your dealership’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent with the information that you have listed on Google My Business.

Online reviews

Online reviews are important. If your dealership has bad reviews, people are less likely to trust you. There are dedicated review sites for vehicle reviews and car dealership reviews. Sites like Kelley Blue Book, DealerRater, Cars.com, and Edmunds are just a few sites that make it easy for consumers to check out dealership reviews. DealerRater even allows consumers to list — and review — the employees they worked with at a particular dealership:

If they have a negative experience with your dealership — or one of your employees — you can bet that unhappy customer will leave a review. (And remember that reviews are not only left about your new and used car sales — they are also left about your repair shop as well!)

There are software platforms you can install on your dealership’s site that make it easier for customers to leave reviews for your dealership. These tools also make it simple to monitor and deflect negative reviews to certain review websites. (It’s important to note that Google recently changed their policies and no longer support “review gating” — software that doesn’t allow a negative review to be posted on Google My Business.)

NOTE: Many automotive manufacturers offer dealerships coop dollars that can be used for advertising and promotions; however, sometimes they make it easier for the dealers to get that money if they use specific turnkey programs from manufacturer-approved vendors. As an example, if you offer a reputation marketing software tool that can help the dealership get online reviews, the dealership may be incentivized to use DealerRater instead because they’ve been “approved” by the manufacturer. (And this goes for other marketing and advertising as well — not just reputation marketing.)

Select long-tail keywords

Selecting the right keywords has always been a part of SEO. You want to select the keywords that have a high search frequency, mid-to-low competitiveness, ones that have direct relevance to your website’s content — and are keyword phrases that your potential car buyers are actually using to search for the cars and services your dealership offers.

When it comes to selecting keywords for your site’s pages, writing for long-tailed keywords (e.g. “2018 Ford Mustang GT features”) have a better chance of ranking highly in Google search results than a short-tailed and generic keyword phrase like “Ford cars.”

Other car-related search keywords — like “MSRP” and “list prices” — are keywords you should add to your arsenal.

Optimize images

According to Google, searches for “pictures of [automotive brand]” is up 37% year-over-year. This means when you’re uploading various pictures of the cars for sale on your car lot, be sure to include the words “pictures of” and the brand name, make, and model where appropriate.

For instance, if you’re showing the interior of the 2018 Dodge Challenger, you may want to name the actual picture image file “picture-of-dodge-challenger-2018-awd-front-seat-interior.png” and use the alt tag “Pictures of Dodge Challenger 2018 AWD Front Seat Interior for Sale in Cedar Rapids.”

As with everything SEO-related, use discretion with the “pictures of” strategy. Don’t overdo it, but it should be a part of your image optimization strategy to a certain extent on specific car overview pages.

Optimize for local connections

One thing many car dealerships fail to realize is how important it is to make local connections — not only for local SEO purposes but also for community trust and support as well. You should make a connection on at least one of the pages on your site that relates to what’s going on in your local community/city.

For instance, on your About Us page, you may want to include a link to a city-specific page that talks about what’s going on in your city. Is there a July 4th parade? And if so, are you having a float or donating a convertible for the town’s mayor to ride in? If you sponsor a local charity or belong to the Chamber of Commerce, it’d be great to mention it on one of these localized pages (mentioning your city’s name, of course) and talk about what your dealership’s role is and what you do. Is there an upcoming charity walk or do you donate to your local animal shelter? Share pictures (and be sure to use alt tags) and write about what you’re doing to help.

All of this information not only helps beef up your local SEO because you’re using the city’s name you’re trying to rank for, but it also creates good will for future customers. Additionally, you can create links to these various charities and organizations and ask that they, in turn, create a link to your site. Local backlinking at its best!

Schema

If you want to increase the chances of Google — and the other search engines — understanding what your site’s pages are about, using schema markup will give you a leg-up over your competition. (And chances are your car dealership competitors aren’t yet using schema markup.)

You’ll want to start by using the Vehicle “Type” schema and then markup each particular car using the Auto schema markup JSON-LD code. You can find the Schema.org guidelines for using Schema Markup for Cars on Schema.org. Below is an example of what JSON-LD schema markup looks like for a 2009 Volkswagen Golf:

Listen to the SEO for Car Dealerships podcast episode to learn EVEN MORE!

If you want to learn even more information about the complexities of car dealerships and search optimization strategies, be sure to listen to my interview on MozPod’s SEO for Car Dealerships.

In this podcast we’ll cover even more topics like:

  • What NOT to include in your page’s title tag
  • How to determine if you really own your dealership’s website or not
  • How to handle it if your dealership moves locations
  • Why using the manufacturer-provided car description information verbatim is a bad idea
  • Does “family owned” really matter?
  • How to handle car dealers with multiple locations
  • How to get creative with your Car Service pages by showing off your employees
  • Why blogging is a must-do SEO strategy and some topic ideas to get you started
  • Ways to get local backlinks
  • Tips for getting online reviews
  • What other digital marketing strategies you should try and why
  • And more

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 1 month ago from tracking.feedpress.it

Omnichannel: 5 elements that encapsulate the experience of simultaneous engagement

Omnichannel experience is one of the big buzzwords in the business world for good reason. Offering an omnichannel experience to customers goes above and beyond a multichannel experience. The two are very similar, but there are some key differences.

Instead of simply offering customers multiple channels to make their experience more personalized, businesses are bringing these multiple channels together to work simultaneously. Here, we’re going to break down why this practice is important for your business and what elements encapsulate the omnichannel experience.

What is omnichannel?

The omnichannel experience brings multiple channels together for customers to use simultaneously. While it is mostly a marketing tool, it can easily and effectively trickle down to other aspects of business, especially customer experience. The simplest example of this might occur when a customer walks into a retail store looking for an item. They want to be in and out quickly, and there are no employees around. Instead of walking around the store looking for an employee to direct them to the item they need, they pull out their phone and go to the website to see a) if the item is at the store; b) if the item is in stock; c) how much the item costs; and d) what aisle the item is located in.

Rather than having to choose between ordering an item online or going to the store to buy the item yourself, you can do both simultaneously for a better experience. This could also apply to the experience of customer service. In an ideal omnichannel world, a shopper can speak to someone behind the desk while pulling up the item on their phone if, for example, there’s a price discrepancy at that particular location, or if the customer has a question about the return policy.

Omnichannel experiences help improve many aspects of customer experience. Sales, marketing, and customer service teams can all take advantage of what omnichannel brings to the table to drive ROI and increase brand loyalty.  

Elements of the omnichannel experience

Now that we’ve defined an omnichannel experience, we can talk about what actually goes into it, and why it differs from a multichannel experience.

Multiple channels

Offering an omnichannel experience requires multiple channels for customers to use. These channels are simply different ways for people to interact with your business. They could come in the form of a website, a brick-and-mortar store, an app, or a phone service. There are other ways businesses and customers can interact with each other, but the key to separating a multichannel experience from an omnichannel experience is that customers can use multiple channels simultaneously.

Channels Are used and updated regularly

One major problem with multichannel experiences is that, although they offer customers different ways of interacting with businesses, what often happens is that one channel isn’t as strong as the other and gets ignored. This can affect the efficiency of your ROI. If we go back to our original example of a person walking into a store and relying on the app to improve the experience, but the app doesn’t work, then the omnichannel experience becomes pointless and can even have detrimental effects.

Scalability

It’s not enough to update and use certain channels regularly. If you’re offering an app that lets users go back and forth between their computer, phone, and even a tablet, the website and app have to work together seamlessly — meaning there’s no loss of information, the channel easy to navigate, and buttons and menus actually work. Multichannel solutions are often not fit for purpose because some channels are better than others. Omnichannel solutions look to take the best from each channel to provide an all-round positive experience.

Combining online and offline channels

This is especially important for retail stores and e-commerce websites who either spend all day face-to-face with customers or never see who they actually are. Let’s say you’re looking for an item and can’t find it on the shelves. You look to the app and see that they have it in stock. You go find an employee to ask if they have any more of the items in the back, and they immediately tell you no because they checked before. Instead of leaving the store defeated, you can show them the app and correct their mistake. Disney provides a prime example of this with its omnichannel guest experience.

If you’re an ecommerce business, and customers have a problem with their order, it’s important to offer omnichannel customer support so they can reach you via email, phone, via a form on your website – or even on social channels like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. If a customer has a negative experience and they have no one to engage with to rectify their issue, they’re going to think your only concern is taking their money. This kind of experience can drastically hamper your brand’s reputation – and ultimately your bottom line.

What about social media?

Social media plays an important role in the omnichannel experiencesbecause social media itself is an omnichannel experience. Let me explain. If you’re marketing on social media, that usually includes incorporating more than one platform. Think of platforms as channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. If your business uses Instagram primarily, change the settings so posts also go live on Facebook and Twitter. That way, you’re more likely to reach customers earlier. Plus, you’ll expand your reach to audiences that only use one platform over the other. When social media is one of the channels you use in your omnichannel experience, you achieve omnichannel inception. Who doesn’t want that?

Final thoughts

Omnichannel experiences are an absolute essential for businesses. In fact, 73 percent of consumers are already using more than one channel for shopping. The key is to bring these channels together into one 360 degree marketing strategy. The best part about the omnichannel experience is that it’s adaptable to multiple departments; customer support, sales, and marketing can all take advantage of the channels they’re already offering customers. Sophisticated, personalized customer experiences are the new standard going forward; if you haven’t taken advantage of this yet, it’s time you start.

Check out our resources page for free cheatsheets on your marketing challenges

 

The post Omnichannel: 5 elements that encapsulate the experience of simultaneous engagement appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com