Email was 50 last year. But brands have only been using it as a revenue-generating channel for around 20 years. It’s frustrating when your emails don’t get opened and no one engages with your brand. But sometimes all it takes is sticking to the email rulebook, those commonplace tactics that actually work.
Email best practice is your bread and butter; and it’s easier and faster to get it right today, thanks to an avalanche of tech in recent years.
So, what are you waiting for?
Make 2020 the year of email
resolution, and start using your tech smarter. Remember, email
marketing has an ROI of 4200%. Get your customer engagement up to where it
should be with these seven email marketing best practices. You’ll be driving
more opens, clicks, and conversions in no time.
1. Improve your email deliverability
You may find that for whatever reason your emails are encountering
deliverability problems. Some of the common ones are:
Your contacts are complaining about unwanted
Your emails are going into the junk folder
You’re sending to spam traps
Your content contains spam keywords
Taking preventative measures can
protect your deliverability in the long term. Otherwise, it may take some time
for issues to resolve.
Sending wanted email is crucial, as well as emailing the people who actually open your emails. Make sure you’ve received explicit consent and are acquiring data through a robust process (double opt-in, etc.). Luckily, our data Watchdog protects you – plus catches anyone out who’s not playing by the rules. And don’t neglect your contact list hygiene. Sending to unengaged contacts doesn’t go unnoticed by ISPs, and puts your email sending reputation at risk.
The success of your email campaign rests partly on the subject line. It’s an essential bit of copy, and getting it right makes or breaks your campaign metrics. Communicate clearly what your email’s about. Testing is the best way to optimize the text: maybe your audience reacts better to emotive language; or perhaps emojis arouse more attention?
Tailoring your email content effectively to each recipient relies on how well you’re capturing data. Make sure you have a preference center in place that doesn’t ask too much or too little. Let contacts know why you want to get to know them more: to offer more personalized content. 77% of consumers want personalized content, so it’s a no brainer! You can use data to personalize in two ways: through dynamic content or segmentation, or both.
Relevant data include:
Date of birth
4. Use split testing to increase email engagement
Split testing is the best way to find the optimum email campaign. The great thing is that you can test a load of things: from name, subject line, content, call to action, send time and more. We’ve covered subject lines already, so let’s look at body copy.
Test what works best:
Fewer or more images
CTA as a button or link
‘Shop now’ vs. ‘Discover here’
Bestsellers or hottest drops
Blog placement – right or left?
Plus, multivariate testing means
it’s possible to test various email elements at once, for an even more
5. Tell stories that get contacts to click through
Storytelling is one of the most
important selling tactics in email. People bypass your product features and
benefits in search for an emotional connection. If you can’t tell a good story,
how are you going to sell your products and services?
Generating an emotive response
from subscribers means you need to cut the rhetoric. Put yourself in their
shoes. Focus on authenticity and imagination. Provoke feeling. Potential
customers need to see themselves using your products and services.
Here are some tips:
Share your customers’ experiences through reviews and interviews
Use people – not your business name – to narrate your stories
Avoid the classic sales pitch in favour of some inspirational editorial
Be real: use realistic images, videos, and commentary to support your stories
6. Use contact behavior to trigger relevant emails
Let’s cut to the chase. Triggered emails are highly relevant messages. And subscribers often react positively to them because they’re related to some previous action. Just think about when you receive an abandoned browse or cart recovery campaign.
Website behavioral data.Look at what contacts are browsing and send an email that complements their previous activity. Was it a high-intent page that needs a follow up from sales? Maybe it was a high-value product page that’s worth nudging the contact about.
Order history. Once customers start buying from you, you’ll start to understand what they like and how much they’re willing to spend. Use product and purchase data to inform what email product recommendations customers will likely respond to.
7. Measure campaign results and then optimize
Open rates and click rates are the most obvious metrics to measure for your email marketing. Rather than measure campaign by campaign, look your metrics over a period of time (i.e. 30 days) to get a better idea of your reach. You might discover that email engagement levels fluctuate because of the day or month, who you’ve sent to, or the content itself.
Metrics to consider
Unsubscribe rate – Ideally you want to minimize opt-outs and maintain your lists. Ask for feedback on why people are unsubscribing and make changes accordingly.
Complaints rate – Marking your email as spam is a serious matter. If this rate increases, consider whether you’ve: purchased lists, missed the unsubscribe link, sent irrelevant content or to old addresses, or emailed too frequently.
Conversion rate – Completing a desired action depends on many factors. So, for people who click through to your website, make sure it’s optimized for conversions.
Bounce rate – Calculated as a percentage of emails that weren’t successfully delivered to recipients’ inboxes. A good one to look out for any deliverability issues.
Forward/share rate – This is a good judge of how many brand ambassadors you have. You want to increase this and generate more leads/customers.
Campaign ROI – This is easier to calculate on a campaign-by-campaign basis. But campaign performance is far-reaching; a campaign today could drive ROI in months to come.
Psst… To maintain your list at healthy level, keep your contacts happy with relevant content.
Whenever you change an email variable, watch these metrics like a hawk. They’re a good indicator of optimization and where you need to focus your efforts. To keep on top of your email marketing performance, download our email scoresheet here.
Make email great again
Email will always be the marketer’s preferred channel. But success comes down to best practice. You can’t optimize everything at once, so start with one practice and then move onto the next.
Hit the nail on the head and there’s so much engagement potential with every practice you perfect – your results will soar.
Historically a key sales day, in-store footfall has dropped over recent years. Today’s shoppers prefer to bag a bargain during Black Friday or over 27, 28, and 29 December. Instead, there’s been a massive surge in consumers browsing online before venturing to the store. This presents a vital opportunity for ecommerce brands around the world.
But, as we all begin switching off and offices shut down for the holidays, how do we make ensure our marketing is ready?
We have eight tactics you need to put in place to maximize this marketing opportunity.
1. Set up your automation programs
Let’s face it – not all offices are open over the holidays. And if they are, you’re more likely to be focusing on next year’s strategy than sending out sales emails.
As a result, building your automation before the holidays begin is essential.
Make sure your strategy and creative are good to go and simply add them to your holiday automation. And the key automation you need to build is for your Boxing Day sales.
To guarantee massive ROI from this campaign, it’s important you think beyond a basic SALE email.
While these are eye-catching and can receive a decent CTR, the savvy-shopper is no longer so easily swayed.
When building your template, it’s important to take into consideration tactics that drive conversions and boost sales. Tools such as product recommendation blocks will improve engagements and bolster sales. Using AI-powered recommendations, you can highlight items related to or similar to previous purchases. This adds a layer of personalization to your email that’s hard to ignore.
2. Jazz-up your existing programs
Give your existing programs a Christmassy feel by creating some unique templates to cover the holiday period.
Boxing day sales are a great way to acquire new customers. Make the right first impression with a personalized welcome program that wishes new subscribers a ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’. Perhaps you can offer a limited time discount to anyone signing up during the period. This will encourage repeat purchases when the season is over.
3. Get them before you even say hello
As with every other busy sales period, inboxes are even more overcrowded than normal. You need to make an impact as soon as your email lands. And the best way to do that is with your subject line.
Subject lines are an afterthought for many marketers. For others, it’s the most important part of the campaign. Being different is your secret weapon. Incorporate emojis and personalization to capture the attention of the skim reader.
And, don’t forget to test, test, test.
Setting up A/B tests before you fire off your emails is a must. They need to be constantly tweaked and adapted to ensure they’re landing with impact.
4. Get it before it’s gone
A flash sale is essentially a strictly limited period sale, fueled by the threat of limited stock and a tight deadline for purchase.
Flash or Short supply sales can generate an average uplift of 35% in transaction rates. At the extreme utilization of this trend, we have the infamous brand Supreme who is the pioneers of hype branding, some of their products resell as high as 1200% more than the retail price.
Running a short supply sale is an opportunity to generate real major sales momentum, particularly when supported by social media integrated with your outbound marketing campaigns. Interestingly, campaigns deployed in the morning have a higher engagement rate but those sent in the evening hours perform better on conversion; if your goal is to generate brand and awareness vs immediate sales consider this a tactic.
5. Everything connects
If you make just one update to your marketing strategy this month, make sure your systems are connected.
Integrations with your CRM and ecommerce store aren’t the only systems you need to think about connecting. To ensure your customers have a smooth and memorable journey with you, you need to consider all your communication channels. Whether you’re reaching customers by chat, SMS, push, or direct mail, you need to ensure your messaging is consistent.
This year, Black Friday proved to be the biggest day ever for mobile shopping. 61% of all online sales came from smartphone transactions, so being able to reach customers on the move is essential.
6. ‘Didn’t get what you wanted?’
Traditional post-Christmas thriftiness has been proven to be a thing of the past.
It’s one of the reasons why retailers are refocusing their marketing activity to maximize on the rise of the ‘I-want-it-now’ consumer. Shoppers want to spend some money on themselves as a reward for being so generous during the holiday season.
Build on this sentiment by personalizing your sales messages with dynamic content. Pull in previously browsed or wished for products to encourage shoppers to treat themselves to that special something they didn’t get from their loved ones.
7. Messages that really hit home
Boxing Day sales are a well-established practice in the world of UK ecommerce. As a result, to get your readers’ attention, you need to deliver relevant messages.
The more relevant the content you send, the more likely they are to read it. Tailoring email content around previous search and website visitor behavior can be an invaluable weapon in your battle for inbox cut-through.
Along with email marketing automation, consider building data segments of customers based on product categories they’ve browsed with targeted price discounts on related products.
Technology buyers can use the Grid to help them quickly select the best providers for their businesses and to find peers with similar experiences.
Grid scoring methodology
G2 rates products and vendors based on reviews gathered from its user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks. G2 applies a unique algorithm to this data to calculate the Satisfaction and Market Presence sources in real time.
For more insight into the Satisfaction and Market Presence criteria, click here.
63% of American households engage in at least one crafting project annually, while more than one in four participate in 5+ per year.
The top three craft store chains in the country (Michaels, JOANN, Hobby Lobby) operate nearly 3,000 locations, just among themselves.
There are an estimated 3,200 US storefronts devoted to quilting alone. Thousands more vend everything from the stuff of ancient arts (knitting, with a 1,000-year history) to the trendy and new (unicorn slime, which, yes, is really a thing).
Our local search marketing industry has devoted abundant time to advising major local business categories over the past couple of decades, but crafting is one substantial retail niche we may have overlooked. I’d like to rectify this today.
I feel personally inspired by craft store owners. Over the years, I’ve learned to sew, quilt, embroider, crochet, knit, and bead, and before I became a local search marketer, I was a working fine artist. I even drafted a sewing pattern once that was featured in a crafting magazine. Through my own exploration of arts and crafts, I’ve come to know so many independent business owners in this industry, and have marketed several of them. These are gutsy people who take risks, work extremely hard for their living, and often zestfully embrace any education they can access about marketing.
Today, I’m offering my six best marketing tips for craft retailers for a more successful and profitable 2020.
First, a quick definition of local search marketing
Your store is your location. Your market is made up of all of your customers’ locations. Anything you do to promote your location to the market you serve is considered local search marketing. Your market could be your neighborhood, your city, or a larger local region. Local search marketing can include both offline efforts, like hanging eye-catching signage or getting mentioned in local print news, and online efforts, like having a website, building listings on local business listing platforms, and managing customer reviews.
Whatever you do to increase local awareness about your location, interact online with customers, bring them through your front door, serve them in-store, and follow up with them afterwards in an ongoing relationship counts. You’re already doing some of this, and in the words of Martha Stewart, “It’s a good thing.” But with a little more attention and intention, these six tips can craft even greater success for your business:
1. Take a page from my Google scrapbook
To engage in local search marketing is to engage with Google. Since they first started mapping out communities and businesses in 2004, the search engine giant has come to dominate the online local scene. There are other important online platforms, but to be in front of the maximum number of potential customers and to compete for rankings in Google’s local search results, your crafting business needs to:
Read the Guidelines for representing your business on Google and follow them to the letter. This set of rules tells you what you can and can’t do in the Google My Business product. Listing your business incorrectly or violating the guidelines in any way can result in listing suspension and other negative outcomes.
Reckon with Google’s power. As our scrapbook says, Google owns your Google My Business listing, but you can take a lot of control over some of its contents. Even once you’ve verified your listing, it’s still open to suggested edits from the public, questions, reviews, user-uploaded photos and other activities. Main takeaway: your GMB listing is not a one-and-done project. It’s an interactive platform that you will be monitoring and managing from here on out.
2. Weave a strong web presence
Your Google My Business listing will likely be the biggest driver of traffic to your craft store, but you’ll want to cast your online net beyond this. Once you feel confident about the completeness and ongoing management of your GMB listing, there are 4 other strands of Internet activity for you to take firm hold of:
At bare minimum, your website should feature:
Your complete and accurate name, address, phone number, email, and fax number
Clear written driving directions to your place of business from all points of entry
A good text description of everything you sell and offer
An up-to-date list of all upcoming classes and events
Some high-quality photos of your storefront and merchandise
A more sophisticated website can also feature:
Articles and blog posts
Full inventory, including e-commerce shopping
Customer reviews and testimonials
Online classes, webinars and video tutorials
Customer-generated content, including photos, forums, etc.
The investment you make in your website should be based on how much you need to do to create a web presence that surpasses your local competitors. Depending on where your store is located, you may need only a modest site, or may need to go further to rank highly in Google’s search engine results and win the maximum number of customers.
Your other local listings
Beyond Google, your business listings on other online platforms like Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Apple Maps, Factual, Foursquare, and Infogroup can ensure that customers are encountering your business across a wide variety of sites and apps. Listings in these local business information indexes are sometimes referred to as “structured citations” and you have two main choices for building and maintaining them:
You can manually build a listing on each important platform and check back on it regularly to manage your reviews and other content on it, as well as to ensure that the basic contact info hasn’t been changed by the platform or the public in any way.
You can invest in local listings management software like Moz Local, which automates creation of these listings and gives you a simple dashboard that helps you respond to reviews, post new content, and be alerted to any emerging inaccuracies across key listing platforms, all in one place. This option can be a major time saver and deliver welcome peace of mind.
Structured citation management is critical to any local business for two key reasons. Firstly, it can be a source of valuable consumer discovery and new customers for your shop. Secondly, it ensures you aren’t losing customers to frustrating misinformation. One recent survey found that 22% of customers ended up at the wrong location of a business because online information about it was incorrect, and that 80% of them lost trust in the company when encountering such misinformation. Brick-and-mortar stores can’t afford to inconvenience or lose a single customer, and that’s why managing all your listings for accuracy is worth the investment of time/money.
Your unstructured citations
As we’ve just covered, a formal listing on a local business platform is called a “structured citation.” Unstructured citations, by contrast, are mentions of your business on any type of website: local online news, industry publications, a crafter’s blog, and lists of local attractions all count.
Anywhere your business can get mentioned on a relevant online publication can help customers discover you. And if trusted, authoritative websites link to yours when they mention your business, those links can directly improve your search engine rankings.
If you’re serving a market with little local competition, you may not need to invest a ton of time in seeking out unstructured citation opportunities. But if a nearby competitor is outranking you and you need to get ahead, earning high-quality mentions and links can be the best recipe for surpassing them. All of the following can be excellent sources of unstructured citations:
Sponsoring or participating in local events, organizations, teams, and causes
Hosting newsworthy happenings that get written up by local journalists
Holding contests and challenges that earn public mention
Joining local business organizations
Cross promoting with related local businesses
Getting featured/interviewed by online crafting magazines, fora, blogs, and videos
YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, crafting forums…choices abound! How much time and where you invest in social media should be determined by two things:
What your local competition is doing
Where your potential customers spend social time
If your shop is literally the only game in town, you may not need to win at social to win business, but if you have multiple competitors, strategic social media investments can set you apart as the most helpful, most popular local option.
In your social efforts, emphasize sharing, showing and telling — not just selling. If you keep this basic principle in mind, the DIY revolution is at your fingertips, waiting to be engaged. One thing I’ve learned about crafters is that they will travel. Quilting retreats, knitting tours, and major craft expos prove this.
If you or a staff member happen to create one of the most-viewed videos on YouTube for the three-needle bind off or crafting felt succulents, it could inspire travelers to put your shop on their bucket list. One of my favorite knitters in the world films the English/Swedish language Kammebornia podcast which is so idyllic, it would certainly inspire me to visit the island of Gotland if I were ever anywhere nearby. Think what you can do via social media to make your shop an aspirational destination for even non-local customers.
3. Abandon fear of ripping out mistakes (and negative reviews)
As the old adage goes, “Good knitters are good rippers.” When you drop a stitch in an important project, you have to know how to see it, patiently rip out stitches back to it, and correct the mistake as skillfully as you can. This exact same technique applies to managing the reviews customers leave you online. When your business “drops the ball” for a customer and disappoints them, you can often go back and correct the error.
Reviews = your business’ reputation. It’s as simple (and maybe scary) as that. Consider these statistics about the power of local business reviews:
87% of consumers read local business reviews (BrightLocal)
27% of people who look for local information are actually seeking reviews about a particular store. (Streetfight Mag)
30% of consumers say seeing business owners’ responses to reviews are key to them judging the company. (BrightLocal)
73.8 percent of customers are either likely or extremely likely to continue doing business with a brand that resolves their complaints. (GatherUp)
To be competitive, your craft store must earn reviews. Many business owners feel apprehensive about negative reviews, but the good news is:
You can “rip out” some negative reviews simply by responding well to them. The owner response function actually makes reviews conversational, and a customer you’ve made things right with can edit their initial review to a more positive one.
Most consumers expect a business to receive some negative reviews. Multiple surveys find that a perfect 5 star rating can look suspicious to shoppers.
If you continuously monitor reviews, either manually or via convenient software like Moz Local that alerts you to incoming reviews, there is little to fear, because customers are more forgiving than you might have thought.
By 2021, mobile devices alone will influence $1.4 trillion in local sales. (Forrester)
There may be no retailer left in America who hasn’t felt the Amazon effect, but as a craft shop owner, you have an amazing advantage so many other industries lack. Crafters want to touch textiles and fibers before buying, to hold fabrics up to their faces, to see true colors, and handle highly tactile merchandise like beads and wood. When it comes to fulfilling the five senses, online shopping is miles behind what you can provide face-to-face.
And it’s not just customers’ desire to interact with products that sets you apart — it’s their desire to interact with experts. As pattern designer Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction perfectly sums it up:
“To survive and thrive, brick-and-mortar stores must now provide experiences that cannot be replicated online.”
The expertise of your staff, the classes you hold, and tie-in services you offer, the sensory appeal of your storefront, the time you take to build relationships with customers all contribute to creating valued interactions which the Internet just can’t replace.
Play to your strengths. In every way that you market your business, emphasize hands-on experiences to draw people off their computers and into your store. In every ad you run, blog post you write, phone call you answer, listing you build, invite people to come in to engage all five senses at your place of business. Soft lighting and music, a tea kiosk, fragrant fresh flowers, some comfy chairs, and plenty of tactile merchandise are all within your reach, making shopping a pleasure which customers will want to enjoy again and again.
5. Learn to read your competitors’ patterns
Need to know: there are no #1 rankings on Google. Google customizes the search engine results they show to each person, based on where that person is physically located at the time they look something up on their phone or computer. You can walk or drive around your city, performing the identical search, and watch the rankings change in the:
If you’re doing business in an area with few competitors, you may only need to be aware of one or two other companies. But when competition is more dense and diverse, or you operate multiple locations, the need for competitive analysis can grow exponentially. And for each potential customer, the set of businesses you’re competing with changes, based on that customer’s location.
How can you visualize and strategize for this? You have two options:
If competition is quite low, you can manually find your true local competitors with this tutorial. It includes a free spreadsheet for helping you figure out which businesses are ranking for your most desired searches for the customers nearest you. This is a basic, doable approach for very small businesses.
If your environment is competitive or you are marketing a large, enterprise craft store brand, you can automate analysis with software. Local Market Analytics from Moz, for example, is designed to do all the work of finding true competitors for you. This groundbreaking product multi-samples searchers’ locations and helps you analyze your strongest and weakest markets. Currently, Local Market Analytics focuses on organic results, and it will soon include data on local pack results, too.
Once you’ve completed this first task, you have one more step ahead if you find that some of your competitors are outranking you. You’ll want to stack up your metrics against theirs to analyze why they are surpassing you. Good news: we’ve got another tutorial and free spreadsheet for this project! What emerges from the work is a pattern of strengths and weaknesses that signal why Google is ranking some businesses ahead of others.
Knowing who your competitors are and gathering metrics about why they may be outranking you is what empowers you to create a winning local search marketing strategy. Whether you find you need more reviews, a stronger website, or some other improvement, you’ll be working from data instead of making random guesses about how to grow your business.
6. Open your grab bag
Every craft store and craft fair has its grab bags, and who can resist them? I’d like to close out this article by spilling a trove of marketing goodies into your hands. Sort through them and see if there’s a fresh idea in here that could really work for your business to take it to the next level.
Be more! This year, Michaels has partnered with UPS at 1,100 locations in a convenience experiment. You run a craft store, but could it be more? Is there something lacking in your local market that your shop could double as? A meeting house, a lending library, an adult classroom, a tea shop, a Wi-Fi spot, a holiday boutique, a place for live music?
Tie in! Your quilt shop can support apparel sewers with a few extra solids, textiles, and some fun patterns. Your yarn shop can find a nook for needle arts. Your woodshop could offer wooden needles for knitting and crochet, wooden hoops for embroidery, wood buttons, stamps, and a variety of wood boxes for crafters. You may sell everything needed for beading jewelry, but do you have the necessary supplies to bead clothing? Crafters are hungry for local resources for every kind of project, especially in rural areas, suburbs, and other communities where there are few businesses.
Teach! There are so many arts and crafts that are incredibly challenging to learn without being shown, face-to-face. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a grandparent or parent to demo exactly how you do a long tail cast on or master the dovetail joint. If you want to sell merchandise, show how to use it. Look at JOANN, which just unveiled its new concept store in Columbus, Ohio, centered on a “Creators Studio”. One independent fabric shop near me devotes half its floorspace to classes for children — the next generation of customers!
Email! Don’t make the mistake of thinking email is old school. Statistics say that 47% of marketers point to email marketing as delivering the highest ROI and 69% of consumers prefer to receive local business communications via email. If you’re one of the 50% of small business owners who hasn’t yet taken the leap of creating an email newsletter, do it!
Survey! Don’t guess what to stock or how to do business. Directly ask your customers via email, social media, and in-store surveys what they really want. I’ve seen businesses abandon scented products because they found they were deterring migraine-prone shoppers. I’ve seen others implement special ordering services to source hard-to-access items in-store instead of letting consumer drift away to the online world. Giving the customer what they want is the absolute key to your store’s success.
Go green! Whether it’s powering your shop with solar, supporting upcycling crafts, or stocking organic and sustainable inventory, embrace and promote every green practice you can engage in. Numerous studies cite the younger generations as being particularly defined by responsible consumption. Demonstrate solidarity with their aspirations in the way you operate and market.
Doers, makers, creators, crafters, artisans, artists… your business exists to support their drive to embellish personal and public life. When you need to grow your business, you’ll be drawing from the same source of inspiration that all creative people do: the ability to imagine, to envision a plan, to color outside the lines, to gather the materials you need to make something great.
Local search marketing is a template for ensuring that your business is ready to serve every crafter at every stage of their journey, from the first spark of an idea, to discovery of local resources, to transaction, and beyond. I hope you’ll take the template I’ve sketched out for you today and make it your own for a truly rewarding 2020.
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Our key learnings from the Product Marketing Summit – and what you can learn, too
We caught up Juliette Aiken, Victoria Dovey, and Julia Neuhold, to find out more about:
the role of the product marketer
why it’s an up-and-coming function in businesses around the world
and what takeaways you can apply to your role, regardless of the marketing prefix your job title bears.
1. Firstly, tell us a bit about what product marketers do. Does it differ from regular marketing?
Product marketers work at the intersection between product and marketing, but also sales. We work closely with the product management team in creating successful products that sales teams enjoy selling and customers love using. dotdigital started as a pure-play ESP 20(!) years ago. With the launch of our campaign orchestration tool, we evolved into a marketing automation platform. When I joined the business, automation adoption was under 20%; just last week we found that more than 80% of our customer base now adopted automation! Since then, we’ve added a host of channels and smart functionality and have advanced further into the Customer Engagement space. MarTech is always evolving, as are the expectations of the marketer, and so as you can imagine, a lot of our time goes into making sure we get the product messaging and positioning right. We need to ensure people know what value they can get from our platform.
As for whether it differs from regular marketing, it depends. Ultimately, there is much overlap between the goals of marketers and product marketers, the process and how you get there is what tends to differ. Although saying that, many marketers already fulfill product marketing functions, they just don’t get called out as such. It’s a mixed bag really.
Externally, product marketers communicate a product offering to customers. Internally, they act as a translation and communication team for the product team to other departments. One key area that is, however, often overlooked is that both of these functions also work in reverse as we feed back to the wider product team from all the people inside and outside the business we speak to in our roles.
Stakeholder management is a big part of it, keeping them informed and having the facts and figures in your back pocket to justify roadmap items, proving value to both the business and customers. Because they operate in such a multi-disciplinarian manner, product marketers need to be skilled in strategy, creativity, and also people management. I think that’s one of the reasons why product marketing is growing so quickly, because it brings the business together whilst also allowing it to move to new places.
One thing I will say is that product marketing at dotdigital is never dull. We are part of the product team, but we sit in on meetings with sales and marketing, and work closely with a number of customer-facing teams. As a product marketer, you’re different things to different people, which requires quite a diverse skillset – the key one being communication. I particularly enjoy how we are asked to combine creativity and analytical skills to solve problems and keep everyone looking forward. The Product Marketing Alliance just released the State of Product Marketing Report 2019, which is worth checking out it you’re interested in product marketing goals, responsibilities, and so on.
2. So there’s definitely an overlap with marketing! Was this reflected in the attendance of the Product Marketing Summit last week?
There are loads of transferable skills between us, and we work a lot of the same space. We communicate directly with customers working with the marketing department on campaigns and the marketing website, and work together on content and event ideas.
The summit was attended mostly by product marketer execs and managers like us, but there were also some growth marketers and growth product managers who share very similar goals as us. Ultimately, we’re all working towards increasing platform and feature adoption.
3. Was there a common thread across the talks?
Many of the topics discussed on the day can be brought back to the same central theme: communication. What you say, how you say it, and even when you say something can have an effect on the impact and success of your message. As marketers we have to think whether something is a marketing message, or an operational one, and so on. Whilst defining these is important from a legal or industry guideline standpoint, customers don’t see it that way. They expect the same familiar, relevant experience whether you’re sending a BAU marketing email versus an update on their last order. So really, I think a lot of attendees came away with the message that all communications count as touchpoints and that they should strive for consistency between them – regardless of who ‘owns’ that channel.
The biggest recurring theme for me was the idea that we’re not just selling a product, we’re selling a solution to a problem, and to do that, you need empathy. If you just focus on the product, you’ll end up with an all-singing- all-dancing end result that appeals to no one, precisely because it’s trying to appeal to everyone. But if you focus just on the customer and ignore the product, you can end up in a space wildly different from your actual value proposition, making you again appeal to no one. Pain points should be front and center to value propositions; but rather than trying to please everyone, you need to get to the bottom of what it is they want to achieve, and find a solution that might be different from what they were expecting.
4. What communication trends are you interested in at the moment?
We’ve discussed how important it is to get to know your customer, and one of the best ways to get to know their pain points is to make it easy for them to get in touch. Frictionless two-way communication is a big part of this. it applies to our own customer comms as well as the end customers of our platform users. Enabling replies to messages, whether they are emails, SMS, or web chats is crucial in improving brand-customer relationships; and improving those relationships is often the last battleground between you and your competitors.
I agree, and another way to improve upon these relationships is by building trust. Just like our personal relationships, customers require honesty and transparency in what they are getting. For your product or service, it helps to be direct with customers by removing jargon and marketing filler words – just be frank in what they are getting for their money!
For your communications, the GDPR of course requires you to have clear opt-in and opt-out processes. This means many businesses have been forced to focus on what us good marketers have known for years – providing something valuable in your content that the campaign audience will want to read or know about! But it also helps to set expectations from the start by breaking down what it is they’ll be receiving from you, how often, and giving them granular control of this so it’s not an all-or-nothing captive situation. At dotdigital, one of the ways we advocate for transparency is through our public roadmap. It’s something quite unique to us in our market space and allows customers to always know what our product team is working on.
One of the points raised at the Product Marketing Summit was around the voice of the customer – and who looks after it. In most businesses, many teams wear the ‘voice of the customer’ hat, and rightly so. They all have a part to play in collating feedback, all from different standpoints which makes it all the more valuable. It is however important that one team is in charge of synthesizing all this feedback, to ensure it gets distilled in a way that is meaningful and actionable. So whilst not an established (internal) communication trend yet, I hope this is something that will be recognized and gain more traction in 2020, both at dotdigital and other businesses.
5. And finally, what are your top three takeaways from the Product Marketing Summit that everyone could learn from?
The idea that the competition isn’t always who you think it is. Krishna Panicker, VP of Product at Pipedrive, delivered a great talk on this and relayed that during his time at Skype, no one even saw WhatsApp coming for them. As far as Skype was concerned, it delivered a desktop based voice-calling app, and newcomer WhatsApp was a mobile messaging app that was playing in an entirely different space. We all know what happened next.
Another frequently cited example of a company thinking of its competition differently is that of Netflix, and how sleep is their biggest competitor. The key takeaway here is if you focus solely on the product, you get more product – the only differentiator between you and a competitor becomes a checkbox. Panicker revisits the principle of minimum differentiation and urges us all to look for the ‘invisible slice of the pie’.
It’s a timely message for us here at dotdigital as well, especially as we are in the middle of our annual Hackweek. During Hackweek the known macro-level pressures are put to one side, and the tech teams have a chance to focus on creative, innovative projects that will make a difference. The winning result is a highly original product, tool, or feature that enhances the marketer’s day job. Stay tuned for a blog in January to find out which idea won this year…
For me, it was mostly the idea of how much it benefits everyone to have product marketing in the room sooner. Because we are unique in working across so many different departments, we bring perspective that could sometimes go amiss. We know what’s coming with the product, and we know the history of decision-making that led to that advancement in the roadmap. Not only that, but we can take the knowledge and comments of other teams and feed that back into the product. This kind of knowledge sharing ultimately empowers everyone in the business.
Finally, I’d say that the role of sales enablement goes beyond what people typically perceive it to be. You’re essentially enabling any customer-facing team, to tell the right product stories in whatever context they find themselves in. And more importantly: this relationship goes two ways. At dotdigital, working closely with account managers and customer success allows us to regularly gather valuable customer feedback. In that same vein, it’s also our responsibility to enable the core marketing team to ensure there’s a coherent brand experience. This, combined with the fact that we wear so many hats, is why we encourage all staff members to come to us with anything they feel we can help with. And we would encourage you to do the same with your product marketing team!
Want to take your marketing automation to the next level?
Like the early morning commute, battling crowds in the inbox can prove futile. Remember that Black Friday is, more so than on any other day, a numbers game. What’s the likelihood that this customer is going to open – let alone see – my email over my competitor’s? Our advice is to hold tight as the chaos ensues and wait for the right moment to pounce: your chances of getting noticed will increase from noon onward.
2. Find your hook
Maybe it’s a hidden discount or limited product range? Play on human curiosity so that subscribers can’t resist clicking through to discover your mystery offer. Think specific and unique. If your store stocks something artisan or handcrafted, drive the exclusivity factor. There’s no better incentive that prompts people to buy than something special.
3. Create a referral campaign
Referrals are one of the most trusted forms of advertising because people value the experiences of others. It stems from the theory of collective opinion: the psychological circumstance in which we reference the behaviors of others to guide our own decision-making (i.e. a purchase). Referred customers can be a great driver of brand loyalty and deliver even greater ROI than other customers. For your refer-a-friend program to go viral, make it irresistible and time-sensitive.
4. Make it fun – de-stress the experience
Who doesn’t like a party? Cue the music, snacks, and drinks for some festive fun! Physical stores that don’t embrace the festivities are lackluster places which won’t cut the mustard on Black Friday. Email your subscribers and make some noise on social media to get the word out.
5. Give back
Ethical marketing may be a competitive advantage in business, but that shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s about doing something decent. Think humanity over profit. Outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia hit the nail on the head back in 2016: The brand donated 100% of its Black Friday sales to grassroots organizations working to create positive change for the planet in their own backyards. If that doesn’t scream ethical brand, then who knows what does.
Maximize the amount customers are willing to spend on Black Friday. Group complementary products – items that go well together. Use ‘complete the set’ or ‘complete the look’ as a CTA. Do this on your website, over email, and on social. It’s a sure-fire way to upsell and increase AOV on Black Friday.
7. Reward your social media fans
Grab your share of today’s growing social media engagement. Social is a viral platform perfect for sharing consecutive special discounts and exclusive content during the Black Friday period. Oh, and don’t forget to hashtag. #BlackFriday
8. Offer specific exclusive discounts
Making your offer as specific and exclusive as possible will differentiate your brand from the pack. The frustrating thing about Black Friday for marketers is that brands are practicing the same tactics, which means it’s even harder to get heard. So maybe offer 35% off selected products or 25% off everything for email subscribers only.
9. Provide members-only discounts
Exclusivity goes a long way on Black Friday. Sure, you’ll be running campaigns across your entire database, but don’t forget to target different groups with different offers. If you’re part of an exclusive group, like a membership or subscription, you’d expect something special during the holidays. So, don’t disappoint. Amazon is a great example: this brand offers special money-off discounts to Prime Members.
10. Offer an incentive to spend more
Sounds crazy since you’re already offering bargains left, right, and center. But adding a small incentive to boost spend at the check-out can increase AOV across the board. Free shipping and next-day delivery (on orders over a certain amount) are great ways to tempt customers to add on some extra items at the checkout.
11. Make your offers time-sensitive to drive urgency
Everything in the run-up to Black Friday is for a limited time only, but there’s always a way to spice things up. Use an hourglass GIF to emphasize your promotion’s time limit in email. If you’re really data-savvy, you could even use advanced personalization to trigger an individual countdown that activates on email open.
12. Rescue abandoned carts
82% of carts were abandoned online on Black Friday 2018 in the U.S. (Barilliance). So, if you’re not already triggering cart recovery emails, then you’re leaving serious money on the table! Cost-effective and easy to implement, this program runs like clockwork to recoup lost revenue.
13. Extend the season
Extend beyond Black Friday to encompass Cyber Monday and further. Why not prolong your campaigns to acquire new customers throughout the whole week after Cyber Monday? You’ll be able to reach people faster and easier. And don’t forget the people that avoid Black Friday, who you can target once all the chaos has died down.
14. Stay open late
There are only 24 hours in a day. Milk it.
15. Go the extra mile
Do something that puts a smile on customers’ faces. For example, as Cyber Monday draws to a close, send your subscribers a voucher that they can claim then and there, but redeem whenever they want to. No urgency, and no strings attached.
You made it!
A huge ‘well done!’ if you actually read through all 37 tips across the three Black Friday marketing hacks blogs. You’re taking your holiday marketing seriously, and so you should be – there’s a hefty amount of revenue at stake. So why not adopt some new ideas that can make a real difference to your results? And remember, if you need help with campaign planning, program builds, or creative work, the dotdigital team is always on hand to lend a hand.
Because of that, we pride ourselves at dotdigital on helping you get your campaigns out lightening fast.
So, perhaps it seems a tad strange that we’d introduce a feature that slows our SMS sends down…
But hear us out.
Managing replies from campaigns
Marketing isn’t always just about the speed of getting your campaigns out. What’s more important than getting your campaigns out quickly? Getting back to customers that have reached out to you, quickly. Why? We live in a scary world where 90% of customers expect an immediate response when they have a customer services question. And by immediate, I’m talking 10 minutes.
If you combine that stat with the fact that SMS open rates are 95% within five minutes of receiving, it gets even scarier. But just like any time-sensitive event, this is something you can cash in on. Sending out an SMS campaign that nearly all of your customers open in the first five minutes opens up a whole load of opportunities: questions, interactions, engagements. That’s what marketing is all about.
The problem arises however when you don’t have a small army, ready and waiting, at the helm of your customer service team. Let’s face it, who does? But remember, you have 10 minutes. And not just 10 minutes to get back to one customer, but tens or hundreds or even thousands of customers. Oh no, your campaign wasn’t just average – it was super-successful. At the 20-minute mark, when you’re drowning in customer engagement, you might even start to chastise yourself for being such a great marketer.
It’sall about engagement, not just broadcast
Customers have so many touchpoints with brands these days. They can call, use chat, and email. And let’s not forget social media of course. As customers ourselves, we’ve all cheekily jumped on Twitter or web chat to ask a brand a question, knowing that the pressure is on for them to get back to us quickly. After 7 minutes of refreshing or checking each second to see if they’ve replied yet, you’re tired and frustrated. And I bet having customers who are feeling tired and frustrated is not the outcome you intended when you sent out your campaign?
This wealth of engagement is good, and it’s a good problem to have. But that doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t take control. This is where slowing things down can have its benefits. Sometimes sending out your campaign at a staggered pace that allows you to properly answer your customers’ questions and engage with them quickly is the best thing.
Dare I say all these brands should have done something to try and stagger visitors to their site? Of course, staggering a campaign is harder to do on Black Friday. I get it. Let’s be honest, you’ll spend weeks in the lead up prepping customers to visit your site on that day rather than just sending out one isolated campaign on the morning of Black Friday. This is not your first rodeo. But it again proves the point that sometimes marketers need more control. Sometimes you want to slow things down to focus on quality for every customer, rather than actively encouraging every customer to engage with you at exactly the same time.
Clearly, it’s all about quality interactions with all your customers. And to help with that, why not try our new SMS throttling feature that lets you send out your campaigns slowly over a period of up to 24 hours? Picture this: a happy customer service team, a website that never crashes, a happy boss who hasn’t just lost $700k in revenue, and you, with a coffee in hand and maybe even enough time to sneak a cheeky peek at the Black Friday sales on your lunch break. Bliss!
1. Trigger Black Friday messages based on email activity
Email activity is never more insightful than over the Black Friday period. Create triggers that are based on a set of behavioral rules, whereby subscribers are pooled into certain groups. For instance, if email openers don’t redeem their special offer within 24 hours, they get a triggered daily reminder until the sale ends. Likewise, for every email that goes unopened, unengaged subscribers get three different follow-up emails, each with a different variation of the subject line.
2. Send a sneak-peek email 10 days before Black Friday
A peek-reveal before the big deals kick off can spur excitement in the inbox. Building the hype is a tried and tested way of getting subscribers on side before your communications start ramping up. Your brand will be fresh in their minds as they eagerly anticipate your unmissable bargains.
3. Generate a buzz through a flash sale
The run-up to Black Friday is all about seasonal hype. Drum up excitement with a series of festive flash sales in advance of your Black Friday-weekend bargains. You won’t be the only one to adopt this tactic; so why not offer different promotions every hour on the hour? It’s a creative way to stand out from the sales-heavy crowd.
4. Create gift guides for giving
Black Friday is about both consumer self-indulgence and giving gifts. The true spirit of the holiday season is in the gift giving. That can mean that those visiting your website might not fall into your typical target audience, but are shopping for friends and family who do. So, like your standard wish list, create a gift list for these people. The list could filter items based on interest, tastes, product attributes, etc. It might also be handy to present feature collections: 10 gifts for everyone on your list or best gifts for women, men, and kids; dads, mums, daughters, and nephews, etc.
5. Make sure your design is top-notch
Conversion starts with beautiful design. Black Friday is about the best product for the best price; but design captures the user’s attention and interest for your offering over a similar alternative. Enchanting bargain hunters with design is the best way to stop them in their tracks and divert them to your website. Black Friday is about getting as many eyes on your brand as possible.
6. Don’t annoy your champions during the Black Friday run
Don’t bore brand advocates with off-price products when you had them on side to begin with. Take them down a different path. Black Friday is a great opportunity to graduate promising customers into this lucrative persona group. For customers already there, don’t solely target them with seasonal sale messages, but keep up your leading content too.
7. Always extend the Black Friday campaign
Amplify your campaign across all channels and keep the messaging consistent. The timings of your Black Friday deals can be sensitive, so it’s important that all online and offline touchpoints are coordinated. You don’t want to upset customers by showing them a promotion on social that’s unavailable on your website or in store.
8. Include countdown clocks – they work!
This is a must-do. Nothing spurs more urgency than a countdown timer. The deals and offers are raining in, but you can do something to weather the storm. Show your customers exactly when your offer is going to end. Add your countdown clock on a banner; it should be super-obvious, so ensure it’s above the fold.
9. Don’t drift from your brand’s authentic voice
Don’t jump on the Black Friday bandwagon if it’s going to undermine your brand’s authentic voice. It could have serious consequences in the long run. Not every business is a discount brand, and, despite your amazing offers, you should never abuse your customers’ financial and mental wellbeing. Your reputation is on the line, so be cautious.
10. Put customers first
This rule applies all year round, but can be easy to forget around Black Friday. Basically, make it about the customer and not the offer. Sounds hard, right? Not at all. Simply laser-focus on the net benefit to the customer, then complement with the right products and discounts. For example: ‘Relax this December: Nail your holiday shopping NOW with 50% off all homeware.’
11. Include clever product recommendations
Layer personalized product recommendations onto your already compelling deals. Customers won’t be able to resist the relevancy factor. Use past browsing or buying behavior to populate the right recommendations – maybe a lookalike cross-sell based on similar product attributes. You could even surface items that similar customers went on to purchase next. Bosh!
12. Enrol new customers onto a welcome program
Black Friday is a pivotal period for customer acquisition. Brands tied up with their holiday campaigns can easily omit important communications that keep new customers engaged, i.e. the welcome program. Tone down your bargain bombardment and give new customers some respite; let them know who you are, what you’re about, and ask them for preferences so you can pepper your messages with relevant content.
13. Capture customer data during the Black Friday weekend
Gate your deals to unlock layers of customer data that can enrich your profiles, enabling you to hyper-personalize messages and nurture customers into different persona groups. Using data-capture tools, collect everything from email address and mobile number to communication preferences and message frequency. An exchange of data is a big deal to consumers, so make the offer worth their while and your consent criteria crystal clear.
The awards, organized by the National Online Retail Association (NORA), celebrated behind-the-scenes heroes of the online retail industry. The winners were chosen through a voting process whereby retailers across Australia and New Zealand voted for their favorite technology vendor under each category.
A heartfelt congratulations to all the winners! This award is a great achievement for the entire dotdigital APAC team and reflects the commitment and effort that each one puts into servicing our customers and building the dotdigital brand within the Australian market and beyond.
Rohan Lock, Regional Director of APAC, was interviewed during the event and here are his thoughts after accepting the award!
The awards hosted by Paul Greenberg, Founder of NORA Network, and change and leadership expert, Nigel Collin, were the Australian retail industry’s first sustainable awards evening. Every aspect of the event had a high standard of sustainability, from food prepared with sustainably farmed produce, the use of recycled/recyclable materials, and a goal of zero waste. Well done to NORA Network for a hosting a fantastic evening. We are looking forward to next year’s gala already!
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