Refashion your newsletter and allow your brand to flourish

In abandoning generalization for personalization, the traditional newsletter is getting lost amid the hustle and bustle of email marketing automation. While sending super-relevant triggered messages is a must, newsletters should be recognized as the bread and butter of your email marketing mix, where you’re free to add some zest.

Newsletters are mutli-purpose and can be very effective; they incentivize buying, educate readers and build brand advocacy. They’re one of the few communications you can ‘send to all’. You should see your general newsletter as a blank canvass that you can style and frame, oozing your brand’s character so that it arouses curiosity among readers.

Below are 5 tips that’ll help to spice up your newsletters:

  1. Employ ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out)

It may sound obvious but if you want to drive value for those tempted to subscribe to your newsletter, it’s important that you sell it to them. Detail the types and frequency of content you’re going to be sending, as well as highlighting any unique benefits and offers, making the sign-up irresistible. What’s more, think about prominence; rather than hide the newsletter sign-up form at the bottom of your homepage (which is too often the case), place it in the website header or employ a popover.

  1. Expand your newsletter offering and give your audience choice

Diversifying your newsletters is likely to give them more appeal, too. For example, depending on your organization, you could offer a few types of newsletter focusing on various topics or categories which interest key audiences, maximizing your chance of achieving sign-ups. The New York Times doubled its subscriptions within three years to 13 million by ramping up to 50 different newsletter streams. By giving consumers choice of what to receive, you put them firmly in the driving seat which helps build engagement and brand trust.

dotmailer customer Shortlist Media delivers stellar content to its subscribers, which is shaped by their preferences, behaviors and feedback. ‘Stylist’ online magazine – an award-winning title of Shortlist Media – dynamically displays content based on the readers’ preferences in every newsletter. By selecting topics of interest – such as travel, books and fashion – subscribers remain highly engaged.

  1. Make sure your content has that ‘je ne sais quoi’

Content is currently going through a renaissance period and marketers are increasingly recognizing its value. Lackluster content will instil boredom and indifference whereas meaningful content will inspire intrigue and advocacy.

For your content to pack a punch, ensure that your message is clear, relevant and inviting. What’s more, signposting your content with dazzling images will help make your newsletter more attractive and subsequently more digestible. Lastly, pepper your content with your brand’s personality, injecting a recognizable tone of voice that’ll grab subscribers’ attention. Download our free copywriting cheatsheet for more content tips.

  1. Be playful and interactive

Interactive or kinetic design can draw readers in and keep them engaged. With inboxes becoming more and more cluttered, it’s a great way for your newsletter to stand out from the crowd. The email channel – which is traditionally very static – is transforming into a dynamic form of communication; in fact, Litmus ranked interactive emails as the #1 email trend in 2017 [1].

Consider containing your copy in an interactive burger menu or combine with imagery to incorporate a ‘flip-effect’. Cloaking your content is a nice way of simplifying the email body while inciting curiosity through impulsive all-to-actions (CTAs). Likewise, CTAs designed with a pulsing effect are eye-catching, bringing the reader’s focus back to the desired action. But remember, while it’s great to be creative, it’s also important to test your interactivity and see what works best for your readers.

  1. Keep it light and simple

Crowded inboxes can be overwhelming and subscribers will naturally cherry pick or look out for the brands they know will deliver valuable content. And just because the recipient has opened your email doesn’t mean they have lots of spare time on their hands: they’re looking for something that’s easy to take in, simple to understand and very much to the point. Without these three things, their undivided attention is lost and that’s too big a risk for marketers to take. Traditionally, newsletters were deemed as a one-size-fits-all email, but today that just doesn’t cut it.

For a well-designed newsletter that’s easy to digest, make sure that the email isn’t too long, the look and feel is fluid, and the tone of voice is sharp and on-brand. Perhaps employ a tetris-style body which splits the newsletter into sequential digestible chunks. Remember, consistency is key in terms of design, color and copy – this will enhance the newsletter’s scannability, maximizing readers’ engagement.

 

In the ever-evolving age of automation, it’s important to strike the right balance between standardization and customization. Rather than allowing your general newsletter to become redundant, reframe it as a melting pot of inspirational content that provokes, fascinates and entices the reader.

 

Check out our best practice cheatsheet on 5 ways to better your newsletter.

[1] State of Email Report 2017, Litmus

The post Refashion your newsletter and allow your brand to flourish appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 6 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Leverage your brand heritage to power post-purchase automation: how Grenson got it right

For many businesses, heritage and background are what make them a firm favorite in consumers’ hearts. Legacy builds the foundations for brand identity, personality and trust; these qualities are fundamental for retailers in a crowded market. Today, brands need to resonate emotionally with their customers to remain competitive, meaning heritage is a powerful advantage.

For traditional offline retailers such as Grenson, the surge in ecommerce has brought with it a need to establish an online presence that marries perfectly to the in-store customer experience; personalized and relevant communication is key. This is particularly important for brands who are keen to strike the right balance between broadening their email reach and upholding their brand values.

Email marketing automation is the go-to tactic to achieve 1:1 communication between brands and customers, however retailers still aren’t embracing it en masse. According to this year’s Hitting the Mark benchmark report, around 60% of retailers are missing out on the lucrative revenue opportunities that are the bread and butter of email marketing automation.

It’s easy to see why heritage retailers may shy away from increased email frequency, however email marketing shouldn’t be categorised into an aggressive sales tactic. One brand that realized this and has used automation to enhance its customer experience is Grenson.

Grenson’s story

Grenson prides itself in the quality of its shoemaking through astute attention to detail; since 1866 the brand has respected best-of-breed techniques and processes which have ultimately earnt the brand its heritage status. Grenson’s reputation as a champion shoemaker is the overriding message that needs to be relayed through every online channel, with email marketing at the forefront. Therefore, rather than undermine the value of the brand through a sales-heavy tactic, Grenson’s email marketing strategy focuses 100% on brand quality, craftsmanship and customer care.

The road towards customer-first post-purchase automation

Grenson’s objective was to adopt email marketing automation without compromising its well-respected heritage status; this encouraged a conversation with the dotmailer team to talk through the options available to complement its communication strategy.

Having traditionally focused on newsletters, Grenson recognized the benefits of sending triggered messaging off the back of customer behaviors (i.e. an online purchase). According to Epsilon*, the standard ‘batch and blast mentality doesn’t help with relevance’, as it damages long-term engagement and runs the risk of churn. eMarketer* argues that data-driven automation is increasingly being adopted by brands as a consequence.

The RFM model (recency, frequency, monetary) is widely embraced by ecommerce retailers. This segmentation method allows brands to pool customers together based on their purchase behavior and spend, providing the perfect conditions for highly targeted email automation. What’s more, segmenting on this basis helps maximize the relevancy of the message which incentivizes the engagement of recipients. Examples include: ‘thank you for your purchase’, or ‘you’re an all-star customer!’.

In adopting the RFM methodology, it’s important to have the right technology set-up. Grenson takes advantage of the dotmailer and Magento integration; with the syncing of order data, the team can easily segment customers based on recent purchases (excluding in-progress orders and cancellations), and subsequently target the right people with a timely and relevant post-purchase email. With Grenson’s email and ecommerce platform talking to each other, the foundations were in place for its ecommerce team to explore email automation in depth.

Collaborative implementation

Collaborative implementation was the best option for Grenson to kickstart its automation journey. The team initially scoped the project with their dotmailer Account Manager and Digital Program Manager (DPM), during which the data framework, program structure, and campaign body were outlined. Upon completion of the scope the automation was built during a collaborative, face-to-face session, and then quality-tested and activated by dotmailer.

The value of the collaborative session for Grenson was twofold: being trained on how to build an automation program (i.e. understand the logic to build more in the future), and the deliverable of a tried-and-tested automation program, built by experts.

Throughout the project, the Account Manager and DPM provided strategic advice to the Grenson team on how to get the post-purchase approach just right. To avoid giving the impression of upselling, the method had to be soft, product-focused and with the spotlight on brand legacy.

Ashley Hubbard, eCommerce Manager at Grenson:

The automation workshop with dotmailer was a great process … it enabled us to talk to the team about our brand and customer experience desires. The team made sure that they knew our goals and key metrics on this task. At the end of our session, we had a clear plan for implementation.

The results

Sending a ‘thank you’ email after an online purchase is best practice and should emulate the customer service that is experienced in store. Customers also expect this to be the norm, and unsurprisingly are highly likely to engage with post-purchase emails. For instance, Grenson enjoyed an average open rate of 70% from this email program.

Grenson’s ‘thank you’ email

Within the campaign body itself, the customer is invited to learn more about how to look after their new shoes. This brings the focus back to the product itself, rather than pushing for another sale. This customer-care approach drives brand value and loyalty, both important objectives for Grenson.

Being able to build on informative brand stories rather than direct sales messages from an early stage in the customer relationship has been fantastic.

The email’s call-to-action draws the customer to a dotmailer survey to provide feedback on the shopping experience; the results have been great so far, with the response-to-click rate totalling 60%. This is an important aspect of the post-purchase journey for Grenson, as it provides valuable insight into customer satisfaction which can be used to further optimize the UX and service offering.

What’s next?

The focus for Grenson moving forward is to drive more personalized communications, with the aim of bringing the offline experience online. Data enrichment will play a key part in its email marketing strategy.

Having already implemented a welcome program, Grenson has incorporated a preference center to collect subscribers’ shoe sizes. Moving forward the team plans to use this data to segment and target customers – for example, a relevant and well-timed ‘your shoe size is now in stock!’ email can boost conversions significantly.

For more automation inspiration, visit our Customer Success portal or speak to your dotmailer Account Manager.

 

*Email Marketing Benchmarks 2016: Relevancy, Frequency, Deliverability and Mobility. Jillian Ryan, eMarketer | September 6, 2016. Contributors: Lauren Fisher, Corey McNair.

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Reblogged 7 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Consumers are no longer brand loyal – and they’re even gaming the system to lock in lower prices

With the emergence of online shopping came the rise of choice. As those internet-savvy shoppers realized that they were no longer tied to one or two retailers for a specific product, they began to search and compare.

And now, it seems the best of us are willing to do extensive research to find the best deal online: 80% of UK consumers and 73% of US consumers said they won’t rest until the price is right. Retailers therefore need to be conscious of competitor pricing while also delivering on customer experience if they want to remain favorable in the market.

Cunning tactics to outsmart the abandoned cart

‘Shopping around’ has not only become a mainstream activity, but consumers are becoming wise to the tricks that can bag them the best deals from online brands.

An interesting trend that emerged from the survey was consumers from both regions will abandon shopping carts in the hope that brands will deliver a last-ditch discount to close the sale (15% US; 13% UK). What’s more, around a fifth (19% US; 17% UK) abandon their carts on different websites to compare deals.

Cart recovery programs are a proven way to pull back reluctant customers and in our 2017 Hitting the Mark report, we were surprised that 60% of retailers didn’t have these emails in place. However, marketers should be wary of leveraging discounts in abandoned cart emails, especially if they’re including them in every campaign; doing so will train people to abandon their carts each and every time.

One way to overcome this dilemma is to look deeper into who your target customers are – for example, you might want to encourage new prospective customers to make their first purchase and in this instance, a discount-led cart recovery email might be appropriate and fruitful.

Consumers love email for offers – but how can marketers make them love email for email?

A common tactic adopted by companies is to offer a discount in exchange for a website visitors’ email address. And it’s certainly working, with 39% of UK consumers and 41% of US consumers saying they’ll happily part with their email address to get money off or discount codes.

The area that many brands fail in is thinking beyond the first purchase and how to use email to turn one-time buyers into regular loyal customers. The key way to do this is by engaging contacts with interesting and relevant content and offers. In this free guide, we offer up tips on how to introduce a content-led approach to email marketing so brand messaging isn’t solely focused on discounting. The other way to minimize the ‘one-night stand’ of the ecommerce world is by introducing a smart loyalty program that offers points for more than just purchases; check out our partner LoyaltyLion.

It appears that US retailers are better at delivering the right content at the right times to the right people, with just over a third of US consumers (35%) saying they rarely receive emails relevant to their situation, compared to more than half in the UK (52%).

Are UK consumers more impatient than Americans?

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, these popular shopping days have become global phenomena. But it seems US consumers are more likely to hold off from purchasing until dedicated sales days compared to UK shoppers (US 40%; UK 30%).

Are UK consumers impatient and impulsive when it comes to purchasing the products they want, or do they feel as though the offers are simply not worth waiting for? The former is confirmed in research conducted in July by YouGov for Fetch, revealing that UK consumers admit to being more impatient today than they were five years ago. 42% of people blamed technology for their impetuosity, which makes sense when you consider how smartphones have bred an on-demand, ‘what-you-want-when-you-want-it’ society.

Regardless of the quality of deals offered on Black Friday, there’s certainly a difference in the way US consumers shop compared to the guys in the UK.

To be successful in the world of ecommerce, marketers need to take a holistic approach and think about the entire customer journey. It’s easy to plug holes as and when problems occur, but the true solution is to understand how to capitalize on the customer lifecycle.

The online shopping research was conducted in June 2017 by YouGov on behalf of dotmailer and its communications agency, M&C Saatchi. The total sample comprises 2,061 UK respondents and 1,145 US respondents.

The post Consumers are no longer brand loyal – and they’re even gaming the system to lock in lower prices appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 10 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

How to find your brand voice

 Hey bae! Ever received an email that sounded totally ‘sus’ from a company you thought was ‘fam?’

Seriously. We’ve all seen them. Those emails that suddenly change their tone overnight to try and capitalise on a trend – the luxury brand using emoticons in its subject lines or the corporate brand jumping on the slang bandwagon.

How did that make you feel? Did it come across as disingenuous? Did it make you think less of the company sending the email?

When your business communicates with its customers, you need to use language that not only conveys your brand’s personality, but that also connects with those customers and makes them feel that as a brand, you share values and understand their needs. The words you use need to back up the story you are selling about your brand and the tone of those words has to appeal to your target audience.

For example, if you are a recruitment business, should you really use text speak to address job candidates in your email campaigns? If you sell fast fashion, you certainly wouldn’t want your email campaigns to come across as stiff and corporate. Your customers simply wouldn’t believe that the communication in either of these instances was genuine.

When brands fail to communicate with customers in an authentic way, they run the risk of alienating their target market. In a recent survey we conducted, 64% of respondents said that they either dislike or hate brands using slang terms like ‘bae’, ‘babes’ and ‘totes’ mainly because they believe that the brands using them are trying too hard to sound like their customers while actually coming across as though these communications are ‘written by a 37-year-old white man’.

Just because your customers speak in a certain way, it does not mean your brand voice should imitate them; instead you need to determine what tone of voice you should use in order to get them to trust you and then use this voice consistently across all communications channels.

How do you create a brand voice?

Your brand voice should be informed both by who you are, and what message you want to convey, and by your audience and what they need from you. Start by answering four simple questions:

  • who are your current audience?
  • Who are your desired audience?
  • what do they need you to be in order to trust you?
  • what do they need you to be in order to notice you in a crowded marketplace?

Once you understand who you’re trying to reach and what they expect, you need to think about who you are as a business and what personality and message you want to convey through your tone and choice of words.

Write down the personality traits you want to convey. For example, are you friendly and professional? Upbeat, youthful and laid-back? Authoritative and straight-talking but approachable?

You should also write down the traits you do not want to convey. So you might be friendly and professional, but never corporate or prone to jargon. Or, you could be authoritative, straight-talking and approachable, but never flippant or comical.

Once you’ve decided on your style, you need to give examples of how the brand voice should sound – as well as some examples of what not to do.

Finally, you need to explain your reasoning. Tell your team exactly how the brand voice you want them to use relates to your overall brand, along with what you’re trying to achieve and why you think it will connect with your audience. This way everybody who is expected to communicate using your brand voice understands exactly how they are meant to speak.

To help you with this process, we’ve created a handy template for you to fill in.

Getting it right for email

Having a strong brand voice is particularly important in your email campaigns because if you can gain the trust of your existing customers you can turn them into advocates. In order to do this, however, they need to develop a personal connection to your brand, which they won’t do if they don’t trust the communication they receive.

Your email communications can establish a long-term relationship and make people feel like they’re having a two-way conversation, especially when you personalise that communication using automation. But if you get the brand voice wrong, they’ll disengage entirely and you will lose them as customers.

Defining your brand voice may sound like a daunting task, but if you understand your brand story and you know your customers then you should be able to develop a meaningful way of communicating with them.

 

The post How to find your brand voice appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 11 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury applies a flawless approach to driving offline customers online

The global financial crash had a somewhat significant effect on the fate of these iconic and beloved brands but, in truth, the deep-rooted problem was that they’d simply failed to keep up with evolving consumer habits.

Around a decade on and it’s safe to say the high street isn’t dead. The demise of old-fashioned retailers has not only forced existing brands to reimagine the way they operate, but it’s paved the way for artisanal start-ups to bring something fresh to the arena.

Today, consumers are empowered with a multitude of ways to connect and shop with a brand. Companies with physical stores have realized that offline and online can work in harmony and are reaping the rewards of omnichannel retail. They’re developing marketing and sales strategies that are bridging the gap and offering customers a truly seamless experience; ‘click and collect’ services are a prime example of this.

Of course, there are many other ways in which omnichannel is revolutionizing the retail industry. Just check out this article that I published last year on Fred Perry’s mission to achieve a single customer view.

In this blog post I have the pleasure of announcing another omnichannel success story, again with email right at the heart. We know there are various ways to use online interactions across the customer journey to drive foot traffic to bricks-and-mortar stores – such as store locators – but Charlotte Tilbury has bucked the trend by doing the opposite: driving offline customers online.

To tease Charlotte Tilbury’s recent store opening in London’s Westfield White City, the brand showcased a quiz in the shop hoarding that passers-by could engage with. At the end of the quiz, each person was given a chosen ‘look’ – one of the brand’s 10 personas. Charlotte Tilbury’s team then offered customers the opportunity to have the details of their chosen look emailed to them.

This is one of the emails sent to people who’d engaged with the brand during its new store opening in London

Each of the 10 ‘looks’ has a dedicated web page, featuring everything from a customized music playlist to personalized beauty tips. The brand has peppered each guide with useful ‘how-to’ videos to complement corresponding beauty products, along with Pinterest buttons so users can ‘pin the look’ to their boards.

We loved this smart multi-faceted marketing approach. Not only is Charlotte Tilbury growing its database with engaged contacts, it’s collecting valuable insights on each customer so it can provide the in-store experience online and drive engagement across its social networks.

Nice work Team Charlotte Tilbury! You can find out more about the brand’s looks here.

The post Beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury applies a flawless approach to driving offline customers online appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Humanise your email marketing content and bring customers closer to your brand

Content is one of the most important aspects of an email’s infrastructure. It’s the personality of the email that either grasps the recipient or puts them off. A subscriber’s impression of content can sometimes be instantaneous, so it’s essential to get it spot on from the start.

In The Future of email marketing – 2017 edition, there were a few thought-provoking points on content that really made me reflect on the importance of copy in an email. The below point stood out for me the most:

Email will (and should) have a more conversational voice and tone.

Aweber quoted Maya Angelou, the famed American poet: “people don’t always remember what you say … but they always remember how you made them feel”. We should apply this to an email marketing context: what a brand says can be compelling, but how it’s said leaves the lasting impression (and that’s what really matters).

Brands need to be plain-speaking, casual and not take themselves too seriously. Branding needs to be baked into every sentence. Writing content that oozes personality will help customers relate more to your business, and even feel a part of it. This is an essential goal of email marketing; to keep the core (business) and the periphery (customers) as entwined as possible. Because really, what would a business be without its customers?

According to Aweber, voice and tone are two separate objectives of content; the former is the “mission”, i.e. the message of the email; the latter is the delivery of said mission. This tends to be descriptive and should – in terms of best practice – be conveyed in an emotive way. The key is to humanise the message and make it specifically relatable to a human being’s sub-conscious. Do not view them as subscribers or even customers.

What does this look like in practice?

A great example is Naked Wines’ emails. According to Kunle Campbell, “they [Naked Wines] … relentlessly infuse dynamism into their business” and “their copywriting … is crisply written, with an easily identifiable tone of voice to go along with it”.

It’s worth noting that any business can do this. An email from a financial corporation might find it harder to send a relatable and emotional message than say, a charity or a pet shop. However, as long as you ask yourself the following questions –

  • What does the email mean?
  • What do we want the individual to feel?
  • What do we want the subscriber to do?

– you’ll be on track. Be creative and think outside the box.

 

 

Sources:

https://blog.aweber.com/email-marketing/how-to-develop-tone-of-voice-to-connect-with-your-email-audience.htm

http://www.emailmonday.com/email-marketing-future

https://2xecommerce.com/nakedwines-marketing/ (Kunle Campbell)

The post Humanise your email marketing content and bring customers closer to your brand appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

How Your Brand Can Create an Enviable Customer Experience for Mobile Web Searchers

Posted by ronell-smith

Not very edible corned beef hash

Here I am, seated in a Manhattan, New York restaurant, staring at corned beef hash that looks and tastes like what I imagine dog food to look and taste like.

I’m pissed for two reasons:

  • It cost nearly $25 and was entirely inedible
  • I should have known better given the visuals depicted after doing a Google image search to find the dish, which was offered at a nearby restaurant

In retrospect, I should have checked A and B on my phone before ordering the $25 plate of Alpo. And though I didn’t do that, other would-be customers will, which means the business owner or SEO had better follow the steps below if they wish to stay in business.

The bad news is I no longer relish the thought of eating at high-end NY restaurants; the good news is this experience totally reshaped the way I view mobile, opening my eyes to simple but very effective tactics businesses of all types can immediately put to use for their brands.

My mobile education

We’ve all heard how mobile is transforming the web experience, reshaping the landscape for marketers, brands and consumers.

57ad39752f7dd4.15352822.jpg

As marketers, we now have to account for how our content will be accessed and consumed on mobile devices, whether that’s a phone, tablet or phablet. As brands, we realize our efforts will be judged not only on how well or high we show up in the SERPs, but also on much we can delight the on-the-go prospect who needs information that’s (a) fast, (b) accurate and (c) available from any device.

As prospects and consumers, we’ve come to know and value customer experience in large part because brands that use mobile to deliver what we need when we need it and in a way that’s easily consumed, have earned our attention — and maybe even our dollars.

But that’s where the similarities seemingly end. Marketers and brands seem to get so wrapped up in the technology (responsive design, anyone?) they forget that, at the end of the day, prospects want what they want right now — in the easiest-to-access way possible.

I’ve come to believe that, while marketers appreciate the overall value of mobile, they have yet to realize how, for customers, it’s all about what it allows them to accomplish.

At the customer/end-user level it’s not about mobile-friendly or responsive design; it’s about creating an enviable customer experience, one web searchers will reward you for with traffic, brand mentions and conversions.

I was alerted to the prominence of mobile phone use by noticing how many people sit staring at their phones while out at dinner, even as family members and friends are seated all around them. “How rude,” I thought. Then I realized it wasn’t only the people at restaurants; it’s people everywhere: walking down the street, driving (sadly and dangerously), sitting in movie theaters, at work, even texting while they talk on the phone.

One of my favorite comments with regard to mobile’s dominance comes with the Wizard of Moz himself, when he shared this tweet and accompanying image last year:

But my “aha!” moment happened last year, in Manhattan, during the corned beef hash episode.

After working until brunch, I…

  1. Opened iPhone to Google
  2. Typed “Best corned beef hash near me”
  3. Scanned list of restaurant by distance and reviews
  4. Selected the closest restaurant having > 4-star review ratings
  5. Ended up disappointed

That’s when it hit me that I’d made errors of omission at every step, in large part by leaving one very important element out of the process, but also by not thinking like a smart web user.

Normally my process is as follows, when I wish to enjoy a specific meal while traveling:

  1. Open iPhone to Google Search box
  2. Type “Best _________ near me”
  3. Scan list of restaurants by distance and reviews
  4. Select restaurant having > 4-star review rating but has excellent reviews (> 4.5) of the dish I want and has great images of the dish online
  5. Delight ensues

That’s when three things occurred to me like a brickbat to the noggin’:

  • This is a process I use quite often and is one that has proved quite foolproof
  • It’s undoubtedly a process many other would-be customer are using to identify desirable products and services
  • Marketers can reverse-engineer the process to bring the customers they’re hoping for to their doors or websites.

(Eds. note: This post was created with small business owners (single or multiple location), or those doing Local SEO for SMBs, in mind, as I hope to inform them of how many individuals think about and use mobile, and how the marketers can get in front of them with relevant content. Also, I’d like to thank Cindy Krum of Mobile Moxie for encouraging me to write this post, and Local SEO savant Phil Rozek of Local Visibility System for making sure I colored within the lines.)

Five ways to create an enviable customer experience on mobile

#1 — Optimize your images

Image optimization is the quintessential low-hanging fruit of online marketing: easy to accomplish but typically overlooked.

For our purposes, we aren’t so much making them “mobile-friendly” as we are making them search-friendly, increasing the likelihood that Google’s crawlers can better decipher what they contain and deliver them for the optimal search query.

First and foremost, do not use a stock image if your goal is for searchers to find, read and enjoy your content. Just don’t. Also, given how much of a factor website speed is, minify your images to ensure they don’t hamper page speed load times.

But the three main areas I want us to focus on are file name, alt text and title text, and captions. My standard for each is summed up very well in a blog post from Ian Lurie, who proposes an ingenious idea:

The Blank Sheet of Paper Test: If you wrote this text on a piece of paper and showed it to a stranger, would they understand the meaning? Is this text fully descriptive?

With this thinking in mind, image optimization becomes far simpler:

  • File name: We’re all adults here — don’t be thickheaded and choose something like “DSC9671 . png” when “cornedbeefhash . jpg” clearly works better.
  • Alt text and title text: Given that, in Google’s eyes, these two are the priorities, you must make certain they’re as descriptive as possible. Clearly list what the image is and/or contains without weighing it down with unneeded text. Using the corned beef hash from above as a example, “corned beef hash with minced meat” would be great, but “corned beef hash with minced meat and diced potatoes” would work better, alerting me that the dish isn’t what I’m looking for. (I prefer shredded beef and shredded potatoes.)
  • Caption: Yes, I know these aren’t necessary for every post, but why leave your visitors hanging, especially if an optimal customer experience is the goal? Were I to caption the corned beef, it’d be something along the lines of “Corned beef hash with minced meat and diced potatoes is one of the most popular dishes at XX.” It says just enough without trying to say everything, which is the goal, says Lurie.

“’Fully descriptive’ means ‘describes the thing to which it’s attached,’ not ‘describe the entire universe,'” he adds.

Also, invite customers to take and share pictures online (e.g., websites, Instagram, Yelp, Google) and include as much rich detail as possible.

What’s more, it might behoove you to have a Google Business View photo shoot, says Rozek. “Those show up most prominently (in the Knowledge Panel) for brand-name mobile searches in Google.”

#2 — Make reviews a priority

Many prospects and customers use reviews as a make-or-break tactic when making purchases. Brands, realizing this, have taken note, making it their charge to get positive reviews.

But not all reviews are created equal.

Instead of making certain your brand gets positive reviews on the entirety of its products and services, redouble your efforts at getting positive reviews on your bread-and-butter services.

In many instances, what people have to say about your individual services and/or products matters more than your brand’s overall review ratings.

I learned this from talking to several uber-picky foodie friends who shared that the main thing they look for is a brand having an overall rating (e.g., on Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, Amazon, etc.) higher than 3.5, but who have customer comments glorifying the specific product they’re hoping to enjoy.

“These days, everyone is gaming the system, doing what they can to get their customers to leave favorable reviews,” said one friend, who lives in Dallas. “But discerning [prospects] are only looking at the overall rating as a beginning point. From there, they’re digging into the comments, looking to see what people have to say about the very specific thing they want. [Smart brands] would focus more on getting people to leave comments about the particular service they used, how happy they work with the result and how it compares to other [such services they’ve used]. We may be on our phones, but we’re still willing to dig into those comments.”

To take advantage of this behavior,

  • In addition to asking for a favorable review, ask customers to comment on the specific services they used, providing as much detail as possible
  • Redouble your efforts at over-delivering on quality service when it comes to your core offerings
  • Ask a few of your regulars, who have left comments on review sites, what they think meets the minimum expectation for provoking folks to leave a review (e.g., optimizing for the desired behavior)
  • Encourage reviewers to upload photos with their reviews (or even just photos, if they don’t want to review you). They’re great “local content,” they’re useful as social-proof elements, and your customers may take better pictures than you do, in which case you can showcase them on your site.

Relevant content:

#3 — Shorten your content

I serve as a horrible spokesperson for content brevity, but it matters a great deal to mobile searchers. What works fine on desktop is a clutter-fest on mobile, even for sites using responsive design.

As a general rule, simplicity wins.

For example, Whataburger’s mobile experience is uncluttered, appealing to the eye and makes it clear what they want me to do: learn about their specials or make a purchase:

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On the other hand, McDonald’s isn’t so sure what I’m looking for, apparently:

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Are they trying to sell me potatoes, convince me of how committed they are to freshness or looking to learn as much as they can about me? Or all of the above?

Web searchers have specific needs and are typically short on time and patience, so you have to get in front of them with the right message to have a chance.

When it comes to the content you deliver, think tight (shorter), punchy (attention-grabbing) and valuable (on- message for the query).

# 4 — Optimize for local content

Like all of you, I’ve been using “near me” searches for years, especially when I travel. But over the last year, these searches have gotten more thorough and more accurate, in large part as a result of Google’s Mobile Update and because the search giant is making customer intent a priority.

In 2015, Google reported that “near me” searches increased by 34-fold since 2011.

And though most of these “near me” searches are for durable goods/appliances and their associated retailers, services, including “surgeons near me,” “plumbers near me,” “jobs near me,” etc., and other things that are typically in a high consideration set are growing considerably, according to Google via its website, thinkwithgoogle.com.

A recent case study of 82 websites (41, control group; 41, test group) shows just how dramatic the impact of optimizing a site for local intent can be. By tweaking the hours and directions page titles, descriptions and H1s to utilize the phrases “franchise dealer near me” and “nearest franchise dealer” the brand saw mobile impressions for “near me” more than double to 8,833 impressions and 46 clicks. (The control group’s “near me” impression share only rose 11%.)

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Image courtesy of CDK Global

Additional steps for optimizing your site for “near me” searches

  • Prominently display your business name, address and phone number (aka, NAP) on your site
  • Use schema markup in your NAP
  • In addition to proper setup and optimization of your Google My Business listing, provide each location with its own listing and, just as important, ensure that the business name, address and phone number of each location matches what’s listed on the site
  • Consider embedding a Google Map prominently on your website. “It’s good for user experience,” says Rozek. “But it may also influence rankings.”

#5 — Use Google App Deep Linking

We’ve all heard the statistics: The vast majority — in some circles the figure is 95% — of apps downloaded to mobile devices are never used. Don’t be deceived, however, into believing apps are irrelevant.

Nearly half of all time spent on the web is in apps.

This means that the mobile searchers looking for products or services in your area are likely using an app or, at the very least, prompted to enter/use an app.

For example, when I type “thai restaurant near me,” the first organic result is TripAdvisor.

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Upon entering the site, the first (and preferred) action the brand would like for me to make is to download the TripAdvisor app:

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Many times, a “near me” search will take us to content within an app, and we won’t even realize it until we see the “continue in XX app or visit the mobile site” banner.

And if a searcher doesn’t have the app installed, “Google can show an app install button. So, enabling your app for Google indexing could actually increase the installed base of the app,” writes Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting.

For brands, App Deep Linking (ADL), which he defines as “the ability for Google to index content from within an app and then display it as mobile search results,” has huge implications if utilized properly.

“Think about it,” he writes. “If your app is not one of the fortunate few that get most of the attention, but your app content ranks high in searches, then you could end up with a lot more users in your app than you might have had otherwise.”

(To access details on how to set up Google App Deep Linking, read Enge’s Search Engine Land article: SMX Advanced recap: Advanced Google App Deep Linking)

If your brand has an app, this is information you shouldn’t sleep on.

Typically, when I conduct a “near me” search, I click on/look through the images until I find one that fits what I’m looking for. Nine times out of ten (depending upon what I’m looking for), I’m either taken to content within an app or taken to a mobile site and prompted to download the app.

Seems to me that ADL would be a no-brainer.

Optimizing for mobile is simply putting web searchers first

For all the gnashing of teeth Google’s many actions/inactions provoke, the search giant deserves credit for making the needs of web searchers a priority.

Too often, we, as marketers, think first and foremost in this fashion:

  1. What do we have to sell?
  2. Who needs it?
  3. What’s the cheapest, easiest way to deliver the product or service?

I think Google is saying to us that the reverse needs to occur:

  1. Make it as fast and as easy for people to find what they want
  2. Better understand who it is that’s likely to be looking for it by better understanding our customers and their intent
  3. The sales process must begin by thinking “what specific needs do web searchers have that my brand is uniquely qualified to fulfill?”

In this way, we’re placing the needs of web searchers ahead of the needs of the brand, which will be the winning combination for successful companies in the days ahead.

Brands will either follow suit or fall by the wayside.

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Reblogged 1 year ago from tracking.feedpress.it

Is Australia the land of opportunity for your retail brand?

Australia has a resident population of more than 24 million and, according to eMarketer, the country’s ecommerce sales are predicted to reach A$32.56 billion by 2017. The country’s remote location in the APAC region means that unlike European countries or the USA, traditionally there have been a lack of global brands sold locally.

Of course, we also know that many expatriates, particularly from inside the Commonwealth, have made Australia their home and are keen to buy products they know and love from their country of origin.

All of these factors present a huge and potentially lucrative opportunity for non-Australian brands wanting to open up their new and innovative products to a fresh market, or compete for market share.

But it’s not just non-Australian retailers who are at an advantage here: Australia was late to the ecommerce party because native, established brands were trading well without it. Subsequently, Australian retailers’ ecommerce technology stacks are much more recent and not burdened by legacy systems. This makes it much easier to extend, or get started with, best-of-breed technologies and cash in on a market that’s booming. To put some of this into perspective, Magento’s innovative ecommerce platform currently takes 42% of Australia’s market share and the world’s first adopter of Magento 2.0 was an Australian brand.

The GST loophole

At the moment, local retailers are campaigning against a rule that exempts foreign websites from being charged a 10% general sales tax (GST) on purchases under A$1,000. And in 2013, Australian consumers made $3.11 billion worth of purchases under A$1,000.[1]

While the current GST break appears to put non-Australian retailers at an advantage, Australian-based brands such as Harvey Norman are using it to their advantage by setting up ecommerce operations in Asia to enjoy the GST benefit.

Australian consumers have also countered the argument by saying that price isn’t always the motivator when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

It’s not a place where no man has gone before

Often, concerns around meeting local compliance and lack of overseas business knowledge prevent outsiders from taking the leap into cross-border trade. However, this ecommerce passport, created by Ecommerce Worldwide and NORA, is designed to support those considering selling in Australia. The guide provides a comprehensive look into everything from the country’s economy and trade status, to logistics and dealing with international payments.

Global expansion success stories are also invaluable sources of information. For instance, it’s not just lower-end retailers that are fitting the bill, with brands like online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter naming Australia as one of its biggest markets.

How tech-savvy are the Aussies?

One of the concerns you might have as a new entrant into the market is how you’ll reach and sell to your new audience, particularly without having a physical presence. The good news is that more than 80% of the country is digitally enabled and 60% of mobile phone users own a smartphone – so online is deeply rooted into the majority of Australians’ lives. [2]

Marketing your brand

Heard the saying “Fire bullets then fire cannonballs”? In any case, you’ll want to test the waters and gauge people’s reactions to your product or service.

It all starts with the website because, without it, you’re not discoverable or searchable, and you’ve nowhere to drive people to when running campaigns. SEO and SEM should definitely be a priority, and an online store that can handle multiple regions and storefronts, like Magento, will make your life easier. A mobile-first mentality and well thought-out UX will also place you in a good position.

Once your new web store is set up, you should be making every effort to collect visitors’ email addresses, perhaps via a popover. Why? Firstly, email is one of the top three priority areas for Australian retailers, because it’s a cost-effective, scalable marketing channel that enables true personalization.

Secondly, email marketing automation empowers you to deliver the customer experience today’s consumer expects, as well as enabling you to communicate with them throughout the lifecycle. Check out our ‘Do customer experience masters really exist?’ whitepaper for some real-life success stories.

Like the Magento platform, dotmailer is set up to handle multiple languages, regions and accounts, and is designed to grow with you.

In summary, there’s great scope for ecommerce success in Australia, whether you’re a native bricks-and-mortar retailer, a start-up or a non-Australian merchant. The barriers to cross-border trade are falling and Australia is one of APAC’s most developed regions in terms of purchasing power and tech savviness.

We recently worked with ecommerce expert Chloe Thomas to produce a whitepaper on cross-border trade, which goes into much more detail on how to market and sell successfully in new territories. You can download a free copy here.

[1] Australian Passport 2015: Cross-Border Trading Report

[2] Australian Passport 2015: Cross-Border Trading Report

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com