How to drive revenue from abandoned carts

Reasons to abandon are almost as unique as your customers. Maybe it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. Perhaps it was more expensive then they were expecting. Or they hadn’t seen how much shipping would cost. They may have added items to their cart with no intention to buy or accidentally closed the tab.

Whatever the reason, every single one of these customers is
still an opportunity.  

The average rate of cart abandonment is around 76%. This means, for every 100 customers walking through your virtual door, 76 are leaving without making a purchase. You wouldn’t accept this in a brick-and-mortar store, so why put up with it online?

Not just for ecommerce

It’s important not to think of abandoned cart programs as
only applicable to B2C or ecommerce brands.

Abandoned browse emails can be used in a very similar way. For a B2B brand or service consider what your high intent actions are. Whether it’s filling in a form or viewing a pricing page, you can create abandoned browse emails to capture any of those who drop off without completing an action.

Program your abandoned carts

Abandoned carts or browse emails should be the backbone of your marketing strategy. Ultimately, it’ll help you recover more lost revenue and convert more visitors.

While the sound of a ‘program’ may feel complicated, the abandoned cart is a simple follow-up email. Browsers are reminded after exiting the window where they added items to their shopping carts.

But, to set this up, a couple of technical steps are necessary.

Integrate

Integrating your ecommerce store or CRM with Engagement Cloud is essential. Through this, Engagement Cloud will know when a shopper abandons your site. This action will trigger your abandoned cart or abandoned browse program. The program, built in Engagement Cloud, will send these emails to your contacts every time they fail to complete your desired action.

Build

Building your program is quick and painless, thanks to the product development team at dotdigital. Engagement Cloud comes fully equipped with over 30 pre-built programs, ready and waiting for you to switch on. Among these, you’ll find the abandoned cart and abandoned browse.

You can create more complex or specific abandonment programs in Engagement Cloud’s easy-to-use program builder. And, with our connectors like Magento and Shopify, you don’t even need to build a program. It’s ready and waiting for you to switch on in your account.

Create

Once your program is in place, you need to create the email you want to be sent to your contacts. Depending on the program, it may be one email, or it could be three. But your design will also be dictated, in part, by the strategy you adopt.

All the best, most successful abandonment emails are using one or more of these tactics to achieve its goals.

Don’t fire out discounts every time

We know it can be tempting to include discount codes, but
don’t send them out every time someone abandons an action on your site.
Shoppers are savvy and they’re clocking onto this tactic.

Instead, consider factoring in some stipulations:

  • Where does the shopper fit into your RFM personas? Are they Champions, Loyal or Need nurturing? These are the perfect targets to offer discounts. For your Champions and Loyal segments, you’re rewarding loyalty. Need nurturing customers will receive the incentive they need to tip into your Recent category.
  • How much are they spending? What’s the complete value of the cart they’ve abandoned? Consider offering discounts for carts worth over $100. Or make the code conditional on spending over $50.
  • Optimize the potential spending power of your new subscribers or members by offering them a discount on their first purchase. By stating it’s on their first purchase, you’re also setting expectations, so they know not to expect repeat discounts, every time they abandon a cart.

US wine subscription company, Winc, offer money off first orders, but only for first-time buyers. With a clear understanding of the value of its proposition and knowledge that shoppers tend to buy more than one bottle in an order, this email prompts new shoppers to take the first step on their journey with Winc.

Keep it super simple

The best thing about abandoned browse emails and abandoned carts is that they don’t have to be complicated.

Actually, the simpler they are the better the impact they have. Why over-complicate the message? All you’re trying to do is push them to complete their purchase, so packing the email full of additional items or CTAs reduces its impact.

Beardbrand personalized abandoned cart

Beardbrand makes its CTA big, and bold, and impossible to miss. The brand also adds a sense of urgency with its phrasing ‘reclaim your cart!’. The body copy of the email emphasizes this further, explaining the cart is about to expire. With a clear time pressure and a clear spotlight being shone on a single product, the reader feels compelled to complete the action.

Use social proof to tip them over

Social proof is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. According to reviews platform, Feefo, 95% of people are influenced by reading reviews.

Adding social proof elements to programs like abandoned carts or browse can help you convert first-time visitors or uncertain buyers.

Adidas abandoned browse

Adidas tap into its audiences’ fear of missing out, and desire for anything unique and personalized with this abandoned browse campaign. By adding a CTA to customize they’re giving shoppers even more incentive to resume their browse. Combined with its incorporated reviews, the reader is really inspired to return to the site.

Give them a reason to choose you

80% of consumers are willing to pay more or try a new brand if they offer a better customer experience.

You’ve already captured the shopper’s attention. They’ve been on your site, signed up for an account or subscribed to your newsletter. They’ve even gone as far as to look at a specific page or add items to their cart. But now, you need to show them why they should choose you, over your competitors.

Whisky Loot abandoned browse

While you may not think these programs are the place for this, Whisky Loot, a whiskey-themed subscription box, did just that. Using an abandoned browse email, it perfectly demonstrated the brands fun and quirky personality. It even addresses key issues that may have stopped the customer from completing their purchase. Overall, the email leaves readers smiling and thinking, ‘yeah, I will treat myself’.

Keep the revenue rolling by reviewing your abandoned carts

The strategy behind your abandoned carts or browse emails is essential.

To keep this program driving revenue, it’s important you
keep a close eye on it. If you see your ROI stagnating, it’s time to change it
up.

Never be afraid to be different and try something new. How
else are you going to stand out from your competition? Make every experience as
unique as your customers.

In the immortal words of T.S. Eliot: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”


Suggested reading

Product recommendations blog suggestion
B2B automation blog suggestion
Social proof blog suggestion

The post How to drive revenue from abandoned carts appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

3 ways to drive customer engagement

Customer engagement is earned through trust and over time. It’s no easy feat for brands; our noisy digital age means that connecting with customers is rather challenging.

What’s more, customer engagement is intrinsically hard to measure. Sure, you can track email opens, clicks, and conversions. But what about word of mouth and brand awareness? The important stuff.

What is customer engagement?

Put simply, customer engagement is attracting and influencing customers in order to capture and retain their attention. Brands seek participation from consumers at length: a collection of individual moments that make up a customer’s experience or journey.

Customer engagement is a persuasion game and has more than one facet. To nurture prospects into customers effectively, you’ll need to tap into the following three layers of the consumer psyche:

  • Emotion

In the very first instance, you should look to engage your customers at an emotional level. They need to ‘feel’ something for your brand and trust your proposition.

  • Rationale

Secondly, you need to lock in commitment and ensure that what you’re offering makes logical sense to the customer.

  • Ethics

Lastly, and most importantly, you’ll have to communicate your brand virtues. Ethical marketing helps nurture promoters – people who will actively advance your brand’s influence.

Let’s look at the best tactics for smashing all three:

1. Trust-building

Inspire emotions to engage customers.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou, American poet

As human beings, our decisions are influenced by our emotions. We love authenticity and hate deceit, so brands need to come across as trustworthy. Only then will customers respond positively.

Design beautiful emails

Make an offer of trust at your debut; design carries a lot of weight in trust-building, so you want to be looking your best in your welcome program. Let your color palette intertwine with copy, and ensure those social links and calls to action are clear. Design email for mobile, too. Did you know that mcommerce sales reached 59% of ecommerce spending overall in 2017? Adopting a mobile-first strategy has never been more important.

You can download our customer engagement guide for some stellar examples of email creative.

Personalize your message

74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases engagement. A first-name greeting, albeit a simple tactic, can put a smile on your customer’s face and prompt them to act. Why not try embedding their name onto an image using liquid script?

Tell, don’t sell

An authentic brand narrative is important for creating brand relevance. Millennials in particular will respond better to emotive marketing than promotional ads. Enchanting subscribers with storytelling means activating memories, feelings, and desires. Relevancy is key: Use the customer data you hold to create meaningful campaigns. EasyJet’s anniversary story is a lovely example.

Put your social proof to use

Customer-first businesses earn social proof. The important thing is to let the customer do the talking. Ratings, reviews and testimonials, and user-generated content (UGC) are all great examples of social proof that can influence broader engagement. Shout about your endorsements and broadcast what other customers are buying. You’ll soon spark interest from similar consumers who are in the market for your product or service.

2. Commitment-building

Now that you’ve struck up an emotional connection with your customer, it’s time to appeal to reason. They’ve built up enough trust to hear you out.

And while impulse can sometimes mislead, logic isn’t as easily fooled. Rational engagement will consolidate emotive desires with reasoning: Do I actually need this Klimt print? Can I afford it? Where would I hang it? I’d need to buy a frame, too.

Convincing customers of your products or services requires some fine-tuning. You need to align your proposition as a solution to an existing want, need, or problem. After all, no one likes buyer’s remorse.

Position your product to meet a need or desire

53% of consumers rate quality over price when making a purchasing decision. Focusing on feature benefits will reassure consumers, while banging on about price can sometimes dissuade them from engaging further. Content needs to be relevant and sell the dream: Paint a picture of where your customer is going to be once they’ve purchased your product.

Use data to segment your audiences

While stories can be broad in their message, communications such as email need to be tailored to specific individuals. Base campaigns on personas or use preferences and behaviors to customize your content. Remember that, to satisfy the customer’s rationale, there should be a reason behind every message.

Relevancy improves the likelihood of engagement. The knock-on effects include: increased customer satisfaction, retention, and cross-/upselling. 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize and provide relevant recommendations. Plus, 83% are willing to share their data to make this possible! Do you have a preference center?

  • Segmenting based on explicit preferences, like product tastes, enables you to power dynamic content in email.
  • Tracking implicit data, such as online activity, allows you to recommend highly relevant products.

Leverage different channels

Armed with a mobile device, consumers can shop wherever and whenever they please. And while email is the undisputed king of ROI (£42 for every £1), other channels such as SMS and push notification warrant equal attention.

Consumers, who perceive SMS as a direct and service-based communication channel, are super-responsive on mobile. They engage with messages instinctively. It’s no surprise that SMS has an unbeatable open rate of 98% and a response rate of 45%.

Marketers have a real opportunity to capitalize on this near-perfect engagement score. Sending highly contextual and timely SMS messages, such as dispatch notes or appointment reminders, can instill consumer confidence in your brand.

Drive context with lifecycle automation

Lifecycle marketing is about taking your customers on a journey. Automation empowers brands to logically structure their campaigns and content around the customer. The premise is context; every message should be relevant to the customer at their point in the journey. Think: welcome series, birthday trigger campaigns, post-purchase content, and loyalty programs.

Fancy your hand at lifecycle automation? Download our worksheet here.

3. Promotion-building

Lead the charge on ethics! Happy customers aren’t always active promoters; brand promotion is at its strongest when they experience a sentimental connection with your brand.

Remember, customers love companies who show they care for something other than the bottom line. Putting ethics before profit not only builds trust, it inspires customers to become actively involved in your brand. And that means more sales.

66% of consumers are willing to spend more money with an ethical businesses. What’s more, 92% of millennials are more likely to buy products from companies that value their ethics.

Engage customers in ethical conversation:

  • Business transparency
  • Charity work
  • Fair trade practices
  • Gender equality
  • Good working conditions
  • Respect for the environment

Ask yourself, what does your business care about?

Make a commitment – and stick to it

Commit to something that both your brand and your customers care about. You might want to donate a percentage of your profits to charity, or plant a tree for every 10 products you sell. Showing that you’re making a difference can earn you more trust and cement your brand reputation.

Use holidays to inspire giving

Anniversaries are a great cause for celebration. They’re a time for reflection and inspiration, so brands need to get stuck in. Making a campaign all about compassion – rather than promotion – can go a long way in customer engagement. Perhaps organize some business-wide charity work on your company’s birthday, or use Black Friday sales as a reason to donate to an important cause. Maybe your customers will follow suit?

Download our customer engagement guide for some killer examples.

Make customers feel after they’ve purchased

Let customers know what their purchases go towards. A compelling aftersales moment can stay with customers forever. That feeling is something brands can’t buy. Go up in customers’ estimations by highlighting the contributions you’re making to a specific cause.

Make it about more than the transaction

Promoters will advocate brands that provide special customer experiences. You’ve got to make the transaction extraordinary so that it sticks out from the others.

Customers will, for instance, be delighted that their purchase is helping others in need. Having felt something meaningful, they’ll continue to purchase with the brand and recommend it to their peers.

So, whether it’s on your homepage or product pages, in email or on social, communicate your ethical activities. They’ll draw the eye, because your actions speak louder than your words.

Customers buy brands, not products

Remember that an authentic narrative will always inspire customer action. People will always pay attention to your business if you’ve got something worthwhile to say. Engagement is the result of a good brand story. It’s just a case of getting the balance of emotive and rational marketing right.

Your brand proposition needs to feel right, make sense, and convey compassion.

For more customer engagement tips and some great examples, download our full guide here.

The post 3 ways to drive customer engagement appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 5 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

3 ways to drive conversions with web behavior data

Session length, clicks, and product views are among the most actively tracked ecommerce metrics. And for good reason, too. Whilst numbers vary greatly, most e-tailers report that their average session duration is between 2 to 5 minutes. During that time, a customer will browse multiple product pages, mere clicks away from conversion.

The average conversion rate on a product
description page is over 8%, meaning it’s important that merchants track
online visitors
even before they abandon their cart.

Beyond simply tracking these metrics, merchants and marketers can inform their merchandising and marketing with these web behavior insights. Why not resurface popular products in your next email?

Implementation

The first step is to implement web tracking script on your site – this can be done manually via your CMS or Google Tag Manager. Both methods are referenced in our support implementation guide.

Once the script is live you’ll start collecting session data (from contacts who’ve clicked through from an email) in your WebInsights. One contact can have many web sessions, and each can have multiple page visits recorded. There are lots of data attributes available which you can view within an individual contact record – duration of page views (in minutes) is a good one. You can apply segmentation rules based on these attributes, too.   

Here are three ways to start leveraging web behavior data with dotdigital Engagement Cloud:

Abandoned browse email

Truth is – everyone gets distracted online
(who’s multi-tasking right now?). If a customer has viewed a product but hasn’t
purchased, sending a relevant and targeted follow-up makes complete sense. So,
creating an abandoned browse campaign should be on your radar.

Obviously, it’s impractical to set up triggers for all products; select a popular high-value product, or a product with a big margin, as a first step when testing the abandoned browse waters.  

Ready for the next level? Why not set up an abandoned browse based on a set of more generic rules like total number of WebInsight collections or a ‘url contains’ rule. 

(!) Just remember to exclude anyone that has already purchased!

The program-entry segment might look something like:

The program flow might look something like:

Product recommendations

Product recs are a great tool to inspire longer and
repeat website visits. Shoppers
buy recommended products
– whether they’re bestsellers or tailored uniquely
to them. This unmissable sales tactic accounts for 31% of ecommerce site
revenue (Barilliance, 2018).   

If you are storing your products in our insight data collection (this product catalog will sync over as part of our commerce connectors: Magento, Shopify Plus, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Shopware, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud), then once you begin tracking web behavior you can start using most viewed and trending product recommendation blocks in either BAU campaigns or in automated triggers.

The content block will dynamically update with the latest most-view products based on the logic you set. For example, ‘only show most viewed products over a certain price’ (and if you have stock levels, you could exclude any products that have a low inventory).

A simple rule might look like:

Continue your journey

Rather than target online visitors based on
specific pages, you could drive a more generic follow-up; one that prompts them
to continue their journey. Something like: ‘We hope you liked what you saw’ – a
triggered campaign sent to those who’ve viewed pages numerous times but haven’t
yet purchased or converted.

If you have an online store, get your subscribers to create an account using a dynamic content block that’s only visible to them (and not customers). This email campaign would have a light touch and is about getting your contacts to come back to your site to create an account and/or make a purchase.

One simple script.

Engagement Cloud is powerful, but we can’t collect web behavioral insight unless you tell us to with a simple piece of script. To find out more about implementing web tracking on your site, check out our Knowledge Base here.

Once the script is live, Engagement Cloud
will start collecting session data for you (contacts who have clicked through
from an email) and store it in a web insights collection.

There are many web behavior attributes available for use, this overview should help you learn more about them and web behavior in general.

Getting started

  1. Think big, start small, and
    scale quickly
  2. Focus on high value / bestsellers
    / biggest margin products
  3. Put data to use with customer
    segmentation
  4. Remember to apply frequency
    rules (gauge engagement based on a minimum number of visits in 7 or 14 days) and
    exclude recent purchasers

Want more information on WebInsights? Speak to your account manager today.

The post 3 ways to drive conversions with web behavior data appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 5 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Drive relevancy with the unexpected

Today’s empowered consumer will only invest time in messages that communicate relevancy and drive value, and it’s up to brands to woo customers in order to win their business. In a crowded inbox – 269 billion emails are sent and received each day – uninspiring emails will be tossed into the trash without a second thought.

As marketers, it’s our duty to understand customers and treat them as individuals. And while context in email marketing is king, it’s easy to forget that surprising and delighting customers can also make a lasting impression.

5 tips to blend randomness with relevancy

1. Play with context

Email is your go-to touchpoint for customer interactions, and while it’s important to feature your product offering, it’s more important to showcase your intelligence and understanding of customers; these qualities drive brand credibility and loyalty respectively.

By leveraging rich customer insights – such as buying behaviour and location – you can contextualize messages, tying the customer journey back to the individual’s environment.

Irrelevant messages make email recipients likely to not only ignore email, but to take negative actions such as marking it as spam. Communications that ooze brand personality and resonate with customers are proven to maximize their engagement and prompt them to take the desired action.

A great way to contextualize your email marketing is by sending weather-related messages to contacts based on a live forecast. For example, you can recommend products that complement the weather in real time: barbecues when sunny, raincoats when drizzly and accessories for your snowman to don when the blizzards set in.

With the right level of insight, retailers can use weather rules to populate emails with smart, relevant content that incites emotion and maximizes engagement.

British Heart Foundation does a stellar job of this by sending emails to participants who’ve entered its MyMarathon campaign, letting them know when the weather’s good for a run.

2. Exceed customers’ expectations

To foster genuine advocacy, brands need to continually push the boat out. Today, simply delivering on your brand promise isn’t enough; you need to overdeliver in a meaningful way. Giving subscribers something when they least suspect it can truly enhance their experience.

  • Surprise sign-up gift – thank subscribers for joining your mailing list with a surprise gift. It’s common practice for brands to use incentives as a prop to lure people in at the sign-up stage. However, the positive effect can be greater if you hold back and surprise prospective customers once they’ve joined your list; for instance, by sending them a coupon for £10 off their first order. Subscribers will feel like they’re getting something special for nothing – a gift rather than an exchange for data.
  • Out-of-the-blue freebie – offering a free product (i.e. a sample or voucher to redeem in store) to lapsed customers can awaken their love for your brand. To strike the perfect balance between relevance and randomness, thank the recipient for the last purchase they made using historical ecommerce data. It’s a great talking point and by making someone’s day, you’ll hopefully generate some great exposure for your brand through positive social posts and word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Rewards for feedback and reviews – to make customers’ experiences more memorable, surprise them with a gift for their feedback.

3. Celebrate random holidays

While it’s common practice for brands to email customers over popular holiday periods – such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day – your messages run the risk of getting lost in all the noise, endangering your engagement metrics. However, capitalizing on a holiday that isn’t as widespread can give you a competitive advantage in a quieter inbox.

In 2009, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba adopted ‘Singles Day’ – an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration – as a prime online shopping event during what’s considered a traditionally low volume sales period. Driving relevancy to the millions of singletons in China, Alibaba made a colossal $25.3 billion in sales on Singles Day 2017. This goes to show that brands can popularize unfamiliar holidays and make significant gains.

There are many weird and wacky holidays throughout the year, from ‘Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day’ to ‘Bicarbonate of Soda Day’ (which is on 30th December, if you’re interested).

When applying randomness to your email marketing, it’s important that the topic still resonates with customers. Make sure your holiday of choice:

  • marries up with your brand’s personality
  • provides a topic of conversation that inspires social sharing
  • drives customers to take your desired action

Download our full cheatsheet to get tips on our favorite random holidays – which include dress up your pet day!

4. Employ game mechanics

For an email to draw people in – over and above visual appeal – you need to invite them to participate and connect with you in an innovative, playful way. Gaming urges subscribers to interact beyond the bounds of a simple call-to-action, which can be uninspiring by comparison.

Capitalizing on the relevancy of the message can spur people to take an action; for example, associating the game with customers’ previous behaviors (sign-up, purchase etc.) makes an exchange of their time more appealing. You’ll need to ensure the game has that fun-appeal and is benefit-driven, otherwise subscribers won’t view it as worthwhile.

To gamify your email marketing strategy, explore activities that are all about chance:

  • Puzzles – encourage subscribers to unlock potential offers/win gifts
  • Spinning wheels – let customers gamble for discount types and amounts (i.e. percentage, money-off)
  • Online board games – prompt players to roll the dice in an attempt to win different prizes and advance various stages to enter exclusive competition draws

These techniques can enhance your KPIs – such as click-to-open and conversion rates – and boost revenue. What’s more, encouraging interaction in email can have a positive impact on your deliverability; email clients such as Gmail will attribute higher engagement rates to your domain, improving your sender reputation and inbox placement.

5. Shake up your subject lines

First impressions matter. The subject line is the first prompt for subscribers to either open, ignore or trash your email; 50% of recipients open emails based on subject line alone, whereas 69% report emails as spam on the same basis.

So, how do we incentivize the reader to open? Should the subject line mirror what’s in the email or should it just be completely random? Although some marketers opt for something outlandish that catches the reader’s eye, the subject line should echo the email’s contents, otherwise it could be damaging to click-through rates.

Brands are increasingly adopting subject lines based on context. By leveraging your real-time customer insights, you can drive out-of-the-blue messages with a well-timed tease that rouses interest and triggers those all-important opens.

People’s attention spans have, in the past, been likened to that of a goldfish. And the sheer volume of email traffic makes it an even tougher job for marketers to grab the reader’s eye. The key is to tap into those powerful emotions and feelings: urgency, curiosity, excitement and joy. To achieve this, you’ll have to be data-driven, original and conversational.

Download our cheatsheet for a deep-dive into contextual and captivating subject lines.

Give randomness a go!

As busy, always-on individuals, we’ve no time for meaningless communications. Today’s savvy consumers want to be treated like individuals through conversations that are thought-provoking and original. Don’t neglect your indispensable customer insight – which is your greatest asset – in place of a flat, uninspiring email strategy. Driving relevance on the premise of being unpredictable will win consumers over, every time.

For more insights into driving relevancy with the unexpected, download our cheatsheet here.

 

The post Drive relevancy with the unexpected appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Looking Beyond Keywords: How to Drive Conversion with Visual Search & Search by Camera

Posted by Jes.Scholz

Let’s play a game. I’ll show you an image. You type in the keyword to find the exact product featured in the image online. Ready?

Google her sunglasses…

What did you type? Brown sunglasses? Brown sunglasses with heavy frame? Retro-look brown sunglasses with heavy frame? It doesn’t matter how long-tail you go, it will be difficult to find that exact pair, if not impossible. And you’re not alone.

For 74% of consumers, traditional text-based keyword searches are inefficient at helping find the right products online.

But much of your current search behavior is based on the false premise that you can describe things in words. In many situations, we can’t.

And this shows in the data. Sometimes we forget that Google Images accounts for 22.6% of all searches — searches where traditional methods of searching were not the best fit.

Image credit: Sparktoro

But I know what you’re thinking. Image SEO drives few to no sessions, let alone conversions. Why should I invest my limited resources into visual marketing?

Because humans are visual creatures. And now, so too are mobile phones — with big screens, multiple cameras, and strong depth perception.

Developments in computer vision have led to a visual marketing renaissance. Just look to visual search leader Pinterest, who reported that 55% of their users shop on the platform. How well do those users convert? Heap Analytics data shows that on shopping cart sizes under $199, image-based Pinterest Ads have an 8.5% conversion rate. To put that in context, that’s behind Google’s 12.3% but in front of Facebook’s 7.2%.

Not only can visual search drive significant conversions online. Image recognition is also driving the digitalization and monetization in the real world.

The rise of visual search in Google

Traditionally, image search functioned like this: Google took a text-based query and tried to find the best visual match based on metadata, markups, and surrounding copy.

But for many years now, the image itself can also act as the search query. Google can search for images with images. This is called visual search.

Google has been quietly adding advanced image recognition capabilities to mobile Google Images over the last years, with a focus on the fashion industry as a test case for commercial opportunities (although the functionality can be applied to automotive, travel, food, and many other industries). Plotting the updates, you can see clear stepping stone technologies building on the theme of visual search.

  • Related images (April 2013): Click on a result to view visually similar images. The first foray into visual search.
  • Collections (November 2015): Allows users to save images directly from Google’s mobile image search into folders. Google’s answer to a Pinterest board.
  • Product images in web results (October 2016): Product images begin to display next to website links in mobile search.
  • Product details on images (December 2016): Click on an image result to display product price, availability, ratings, and other key information directly in the image search results.
  • Similar items (April 2017): Google can identify products, even within lifestyle images, and showcases similar items you can buy online.
  • Style ideas (April 2017): The flip side to similar items. When browsing fashion product images on mobile, Google shows you outfit montages and inspirational lifestyle photos to highlight how the product can be worn in real life.
  • Image badges (August 2017): Label on the image indicate what other details are available, encouraging more users to click; for example, badges such as “recipe” or a timestamp for pages featuring videos. But the most significant badge is “product,” shown if the item is available for purchase online.
  • Image captions (March 2018): Display the title tag and domain underneath the image.

Combining these together, you can see powerful functionality. Google is making a play to turn Google Images into shoppable product discovery — trying to take a bite out of social discovery platforms and give consumers yet another reason to browse on Google, rather than your e-commerce website.

Image credit: Google

What’s more, Google is subtly leveraging the power of keyword search to enlighten users about these new features. According to 1st May MozCast, 18% of text-based Google searches have image blocks, which drive users into Google Images.

This fundamental change in Google Image search comes with a big SEO opportunity for early adopters. Not only for transactional queries, but higher up the funnel with informational queries as well.

kate-middleton-style.gif

Let’s say you sell designer fashion. You could not only rank #1 with your blog post on a informational query on “kate middleton style,” including an image on your article result to enhance the clickability of your SERP listing. You can rank again on page 1 within the image pack, then have your products featured in Similar Items — all of which drives more high-quality users to your site.

And the good news? This is super simple to implement.

How to drive organic sessions with visual search

The new visual search capabilities are all algorithmically selected based on a combination of schema and image recognition. Google told TechCrunch:

“The images that appear in both the style ideas and similar items grids are also algorithmically ranked, and will prioritize those that focus on a particular product type or that appear as a complete look and are from authoritative sites.”

This means on top of continuing to establish Domain Authority site-wide, you need images that are original, high resolution, and clearly focus on a single theme. But most importantly, you need images with perfectly implemented structured markup to rank in Google Images.

To rank your images, follow these four simple steps:

1. Implement schema markup

To be eligible for similar items, you need product markup on the host page that meets the minimum metadata requirements of:

  • Name
  • Image
  • Price
  • Currency
  • Availability

But the more quality detail, the better, as it will make your results more clickable.

2. Check your implementation

Validate your implementation by running a few URLs through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. But remember, just being valid is sometimes not enough. Be sure to look into the individual field result to ensure the data is correctly populating and user-friendly.

3. Get indexed

Be aware, it can take up to one week for your site’s images to be crawled. This will be helped along by submitting an image XML sitemap in Google Search Console.

4. Look to Google Images on mobile

Check your implementation by doing a site:yourdomain.cctld query on mobile in Google Images.

If you see no image results badges, you likely have an implementation issue. Go back to step 2. If you see badges, click a couple to ensure they show your ideal markup in the details.

Once you confirm all is well, then you can begin to search for your targeted keywords to see how and where you rank.

Like all schema markup, how items display in search results is at Google’s discretion and not guaranteed. However, quality markup will increase the chance of your images showing up.

It’s not always about Google

Visual search is not limited to Google. And no, I’m not talking about just Bing. Visual search is also creating opportunities to be found and drive conversion on social networks, such as Pinterest. Both brands allow you to select objects within images to narrow down your visual search query.

Image credit: MarTech Today

On top of this, we also have shoppable visual content on the rise, bridging the gap between browsing and buying. Although at present, this is more often driven by data feeds and tagging more so than computer vision. For example:

  • Brahmin offers shoppable catalogs
  • Topshop features user-generated shoppable galleries
  • Net-a-Porter’s online magazine features shoppable article
  • Ted Baker’s campaigns with shoppable videos
  • Instagram & Pinterest both monetize with shoppable social media posts

Such formats reduce the number of steps users need to take from content to conversion. And more importantly for SEOs, they exclude the need for keyword search.

I see a pair of sunglasses on Instagram. I don’t need to Google the name, then click on the product page and then convert. I use the image as my search query, and I convert. One click. No keywords.

…But what if I see those sunglasses offline?

Digitize the world with camera-based search

The current paradigm for SEOs is that we wait for a keyword search to occur, and then compete. Not only for organic rankings, but also for attention versus paid ads and other rich features.

With computer vision, you can cut the keyword search out of the customer journey. By entering the funnel before the keyword search occurs, you can effectively exclude your competitors.

Who cares if your competitor has the #1 organic spot on Google, or if they have more budget for Adwords, or a stronger core value proposition messaging, if consumers never see it?

Consumers can skip straight from desire to conversion by taking a photo with their smartphone.

Brands taking search by camera mainstream

Search by camera is well known thanks to Pinterest Lens. Built into the app, simply point your camera phone at a product discovered offline for online recommendations of similar items.

If you point Lens at a pair of red sneakers, it will find you visually similar sneakers as well as idea on how to style it.

Image credit: Pinterest

But camera search is not limited to only e-commerce or fashion applications.

Say you take a photo of strawberries. Pinterest understand you’re not looking for more pictures of strawberries, but for inspiration, so you’ll see recipe ideas.

The problem? For you, or your consumers, Pinterest is unlikely to be a day-to-day app. To be competitive against keyword search, search by camera needs to become part of your daily habit.

Samsung understands this, integrating search by camera into their digital personal assistant Bixby, with functionality backed by powerful partnerships.

  • Pinterest Lens powers its images search
  • Amazon powers its product search
  • Google translates text
  • Foursquare helps to find places nearby

Bixby failed to take the market by storm, and so is unlikely to be your go-to digital personal assistant. Yet with the popularity of search by camera, it’s no surprise that Google has recently launched their own version of Lens in Google Assistant.

Search engines, social networks, and e-commerce giants are all investing in search by camera…

…because of impressive impacts on KPIs. BloomReach reported that e-commerce websites reached by search by camera resulted in:

  • 48% more product views
  • 75% greater likelihood to return
  • 51% higher time on site
  • 9% higher average order value

Camera search has become mainstream. So what’s your next step?

How to leverage computer vision for your brand

As a marketer, your job is to find the right use case for your brand, that perfect point where either visual search or search by camera can reduce friction in conversion flows.

Many case studies are centered around snap-to-shop. See an item you like in a friend’s home, at the office, or walking past you on the street? Computer vision takes you directly from picture to purchase.

But the applications of image recognition are only limited by your vision. Think bigger.

Branded billboards, magazines ads, product packaging, even your brick-and-mortar storefront displays all become directly actionable. Digitalization with snap-to-act via a camera phone offers more opportunities than QR codes on steroids.

If you run a marketplace website, you can use computer vision to classify products: Say a user wants to list a pair of shoes for sale. They simply snap a photo of the item. With that photo, you can automatically populate the fields for brand, color, category, subcategory, materials, etc., reducing the number of form fields to what is unique about this item, such as the price.

A travel company can offer snap-for-info on historical attractions, a museum on artworks, a healthy living app on calories in your lunch.

What about local SEO? Not only could computer vision show the rating or menu of your restaurant before the user walks inside, but you could put up a bus stop ad calling for hungry travelers to take a photo. The image triggers Google Maps, showing public transport directions to your restaurant. You can take the customer journey, quite literally. Tell them where to get off the bus.

And to build such functionality is relatively easy, because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are many open-source image recognition APIs to help you leverage pre-trained image classifiers, or from which you can train your own:

  • Google Cloud Vision
  • Amazon Rekognition
  • IBM Watson
  • Salesforce Einstein
  • Slyce
  • Clarifai

Let’s make this actionable. You now know computer vision can greatly improve your user experience, conversion rate and sessions. To leverage this, you need to:

  1. Make your brand visual interactive through image recognition features
  2. Understand how consumers visually search for your products
  3. Optimize your content so it’s geared towards visual technology

Visual search is permeating online and camera search is becoming commonplace offline. Now is the time to outshine your competitors. Now is the time to understand the foundations of visual marketing. Both of these technologies are stepping stones that will lead the way to an augmented reality future.

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 year ago from tracking.feedpress.it

How retail marketers can drive innovation with email marketing

It began slowly about a decade ago, with Linens & Things closing in 2008, Circuit City in 2009, Blockbuster in 2010, and Borders in 2011. Now, it seems like every other day we hear news of yet another retail store closing, or moving entirely online (like Linens & Things did).

Part of this change is due to the ‘Amazon effect’, or the idea that consumers can get anything they want, when they want it – no need to trek to a store’s physical location. According to eMarketer, more consumers are turning to Amazon to research products before they buy instead of Google. The times are a changin’ indeed.

Want to learn how Movable Ink helps leading retailers create amazing experiences?

Download our ebook, Movable Ink for Retail.

 

But let’s look at the numbers. It should come as no surprise that ecommerce is the biggest driver of retail sales growth in the UK. According to eMarketer, UK retail ecommerce sales will rise by 14.2% between 2017 and 2021, driven mainly by mobile commerce.

So, despite what many have deemed a “retail apocalypse”, consumers will continue to spend both in store and online. But the way that consumers are spending is changing, and retailers need to adapt to survive.

Movable Ink Co-founder and CEO Vivek Sharma said it best in his article, The Retail Bubble: How to Survive and Thrive with Digital Innovation:

This is about more than square footage, financial missteps, or the ebb and flow of natural business cycles. This is simply another chapter in the never-ending narrative of creative destruction leading to digital innovation.

The retail landscape will continue to evolve, and it’s up to retailers to embrace digital strategies that create better customer experiences if they want to thrive in this brave new world.

There are many ways retailers can elevate customer experiences both online and offline to meet their business goals. Here are three of the ways they can make that happen with email marketing, along with specific tactics for each.

1. Strengthen loyalty programs with personalized experiences

Email is essential for a successful loyalty program, but many brands aren’t taking advantage of it. Too often, email content is an afterthought. There are so many opportunities to surprise and delight your customers using a sophisticated campaign, especially for your loyal rewards members. Here are a few ways that marketers can strengthen their loyalty programs with email.

Display 1:1 real-time spend and rewards points for every customer

Complicated rules and difficulty redeeming points can often be the downfall of any loyalty program. So keeping it simple is important. According to a study by Colloquy, the number one reason consumers give for continuing to participate in a loyalty program is that it’s easy to understand (81%).

Help customers see the big picture with data visualization

The use of data visualization in marketing, like infographics, has skyrocketed over the past few years. And it makes perfect sense— graphics are more engaging and visual data is easier to digest. According to the SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, the human brain can make sense of a visual in less than 1/10 of a second.

So, incorporating data visualization into your loyalty program emails is a no-brainer. And it’s not as much work as you might think.

Add authenticity with user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is a fresh, relevant way to market your products and services. And while the concept might not be new, the ways that marketers are leveraging UGC totally are. Consumers are now content creators, uploading and sharing images of their favorite products and services as a testament to their brand loyalty. And the sheer volume of digital content has grown exponentially thanks to platforms like Instagram and YouTube that encourage social sharing.

You can add user-generated content to your loyalty emails by displaying a live social feed, like Twitter or Instagram, in the body of your email. It’s the best way to showcase real customers using your products, adding authenticity to your emails.

2. Drive revenue with personalized promotional emails

Personalized experiences make for better retail marketing experiences because they’re incredibly effective for getting your customer’s attention. It’s also a huge priority for most marketers. And yet only 40% of consumers report seeing any kind of personalization at all. Here are just a few ways that retail marketers can improve those experiences with relevant offers.

Use contextual elements like geo-targeting and weather personalization

Meeting your customer where they are at the exact moment they open your email makes your email content both relevant and helpful. This type of contextual marketing lets you promote offers based your customer’s location or weather conditions, no matter where they are when they open your email.

This is also a great opportunity to drive foot traffic to any brick-and-mortar store locations by providing a local map with the stores nearest to each customer, and providing relevant store hours too.

Leverage customer behavior like browsing history and cart activity

Each of your customers is different, each with unique preferences. If you serve them an email based on their past interactions with your website, they’re far more likely to convert. Behavioral marketing lets you leverage those interactions – whether its browsing history on your website or items left in their shopping – to create email content that speaks to each individual. You could even offer product recommendations based on recently browsed products.

3. Enhance the productivity of every campaign

Productivity is a major challenge for most retail marketers – lean teams, tight production schedules, and limited resources all factor into this. Here are a few ways retail marketers can take advantage of their existing content to create great, on-brand experiences in email.

Repurpose your content

Email marketing is ideal for repurposing your best content. If your company has a blog, pull your best blog content into your welcome email series to get it in front of your new customers fast. For retailers, this might be a blog post featuring best-selling or most popular products.

And don’t forget about images – take advantage of any product images you have on your website by pulling them into your promotional emails for a seamless, experience that’s on brand.

Use time-targeting

Time-targeting is a tactic for sending multiple offers with just one email send, thus saving retail marketers tons of time. It’s ideal for promoting a new offer every day, like many retailers do in their Black Friday emails. Time-targeting builds excitement, drives urgency, and gives your customers something to look forward to.

Want to find out how Movable Ink is helping leading retail brands accomplish all of this, and more? Download our ebook, Movable Ink for Retail.

The post How retail marketers can drive innovation with email marketing appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

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 3 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

The Local SEO Playbook To Increased Visibility And Customer Acquisition

Columnist Thomas Stern discusses five essential components of local optimization that increase online exposure and drive offline traffic to brick-and-mortar stores.

The post The Local SEO Playbook To Increased Visibility And Customer Acquisition appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 years ago from feeds.searchengineland.com