Daniel Burstein

Ecommerce: User-generated content, video marketing and other lessons from IRCE 2014

May 29th, 2015

How can you attract more traffic to your ecommerce store? How can you improve conversion on the traffic you’re currently getting? At IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference + Exhibition) 2014, we sat down with 39 marketers and ecommerce experts to bring you actionable ideas to improve your results.

To help you prepare for IRCE 2015, today on the MarketingSherpa blog I’m taking a look back at a few of the key lessons I learned from the interviews at last year’s event.

 

Lesson #1: User-generated content is not free labor for marketers

User-generated content. Community-sourced content. It’s been called many things, but brands have found success by encouraging customers to create their own content and share it with their peers.

No site has been better at this than Wikipedia, which refers to the practice as collaborative writing by volunteers. “The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” gets the sixth most traffic in the world, according to Alexa.

I asked Jimmy Wales, CEO and Founder, Wikipedia, what advice he would give to marketers looking to engage their audience to create content.

Jimmy likened the typical approach of crowdsourcing to, “It’s sort of like if you opened up a bowling alley and you said, ‘Gee, we’ve got all this bowling to be done. How are we going to trick people into bowling for us.’ Instead you say, ‘Well, wait. What do people want? They want leisure time activity, beer and a hot dog. They want it to be family friendly. They’d like to have a league so they can compete with other teams and so on.’ So you think, ‘What’s the infrastructure we can build here? We’ll offer a bowling league, we’ll make sure there’s hot dogs and beer.’ And people will come, because you’re thinking about what they need first.”

“Don’t think about the work you would like people to do. Think about what it is people want to do and how you can empower them to do that,” Jimmy advised.

 

Lesson #2: Video can help make your products come alive online

While ecommerce has many advantages over brick-and-mortar retailing, it has one major disadvantage:

You can’t touch and feel the products. You can’t try them on. You can’t feel the material and the quality.

One way to overcome that is with video, which is much more compelling than a simple two-dimensional image.

I sat down with Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Chairman and Founder, Joyus, and one of the powerful women who are reinventing the way you shop for fashion online according to Forbes, to discover how you can put video to work on your site.

“Create a sustained relationship with your audience, find the person that represents your brand voice and use them repeatedly,” she advised.

 

Lesson #3: Get out of the way of your customers

You have some effective user-generated content and compelling videos, and it has built demand for your site and interest in your product. How do you get customers to make a purchase?

In this case, less may be more. In other words, once you have great products and have brought people to your site who are interested in purchasing these products, make it easy for them.

Michael Layne, Director of Internet Marketing, and Jen Rademacher, Chief Information Officer, both of Fathead, shared what they learned from conversion optimization testing on their site.

“Simplicity is genius, white space is your friend and get out of the way of your customers,” Michael said. “Too many buttons are going to hurt you. Too much copy is going to hurt you. You just want to give customers what they’re looking for.”

 

Put ideas from the world’s largest ecommerce event to work for you

To help you improve your ecommerce marketing and conversion, the MarketingSherpa team is once again heading out to IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference + Exhibition) in Chicago to run the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE. We’ll be interviewing brand-side marketers to share their expertise with you on MarketingSherpa.

If you’re at IRCE, swing by and say “hi.” And if you’re a brand-side marketer with a story to tell, let me know and we might be able to arrange an interview in the Media Center.

 

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, @DanielBurstein.

 

You might also like

Watch exclusive full interviews from MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2014

Live from IRCE: Key insights from the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study [MarketingSherpa webinar replay]

Social Media: Marketing to millennials [More form the blogs]

Ecommerce: 2 tips to help small businesses navigate multichannel marketing [More from the blogs]

Social Media Marketing: Setting expectations both internally and externally [Video] [More from the blogs]

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Daniel Beulah

Why Implementing Relevancy into Email Programs Can’t Wait

May 26th, 2015

A few moments after her featured speaker session at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, Shawna Dahlin, Senior Email Marketing Manager, Microsoft Store, sat down at the Media Center with MarketingSherpa Reporter Courtney Eckerle to discuss why it’s so important for marketers to recognize problems and implement changes to their email campaigns as soon as they can.

 

Why shouldn’t marketers wait until everything is set up perfectly to implement program changes?

“It’s never too soon to start being relevant to your customer,” Shawna explained.

A lot of lists are “leaky buckets.” With every email send that isn’t relevant to the customer, you risk losing them forever. With the technology available today, marketers now have the ability to use data to find out what their customers are interested in and segment their email sends to make those sends more personalized.

Even the tiniest bit of data can be converted into a big win. “You can’t wait. You’ll have to do everything you can to be ever, just a little bit, more relevant so you don’t lose them out of your database,” she said.

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David Kirkpatrick

Personalized Marketing: Choosing your targets wisely

A recent MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter case study, “Personalization Marketing: In-trial messages increased online registrations by 15% for a B2B SaaS,” covered Brainshark, a cloud-based B2B service for training, sales conversions and marketing. The case study examined how Brainshark pushed personalized messaging on users of a freemium product that offered a scaled down version of one of its main enterprise products.

These messages took the form of informational and educational tips about using the freemium products and promotions for other free Brainshark products, while offering to upgrade to the paid version.

The freemium product, myBrainshark, creates video presentations out of static data, such as presentation slide shows, spreadsheet data, PDFs and other written content. Although Brainshark targets business users director-level and above in sales training, enablement and operations, the freemium product attracted more than just attention from business users. Arthur Gehring, Vice President of Demand Generation, Brainshark, said educators were another main user base.

He explained, “It’s amazing how much kids today are using technology like this in the classroom. It’s really cool. A lot of high schools, elementary schools, use myBrainshark as a learning aid.”

Arthur continued, “Those people — we’re not as interested in trying to sell them an enterprise product.”

At the same time, for Brainshark’s actual target audience, Arthur said the team wanted to know more about those users and used analytics to see what they were looking for. He described it as, “[trying to] help them and hopefully provide more value to them.”

 

Making registration quick and painless

To register for myBrainshark, new users only have to provide a screen name and email and create a password. Arthur said the small number of form fields was to drive as many registrations as possible.

1

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Daniel Burstein

The Hidden Side of Email Marketing: The once-and-done option, A/B testing and a supersmart kind of dumb

May 19th, 2015

What assumptions do you make about your customers? Your competitors? Your industry in general? More importantly, what do those assumptions cost you?

At MarketingSherpa, we write case studies to help you execute your marketing strategy.

We also talk to writers, researchers and, well, renegades to help you challenge those assumptions and create an effective strategy to begin with.

I’m talking about people like Stephen J. Dubner. Not only has Dubner learned about economic theory and customer behavior as co-author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and, more recently, Think Like a Freak, but he’s also a very successful digital content creator in his own right as host of the Freakonomics Radio podcast, which nets more than 5 million downloads per month.

Customer behavior. Digital content. Sounds like a guy who could offer a few words of wisdom to email marketers to help them challenge their potentially costly assumptions. I sat down with Dubner at the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 before his featured speaker session later that morning:

 

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Daniel Beulah

Harley-Davidson Overcomes the Baby Boomer Cliff by Creating a New Customer Base

May 15th, 2015

Brands are not solely defined by corporate executives and marketing campaigns but by communities that are loyal to the brand and the perception of those communities by society.

These communities are never static. As the major purchasing power shifts from one generation to the next, brands need to evolve in order to ensure the survival of their market share.

Toy brands, for example, are excellent at targeting the next generation. They rely on detailed research and outreach programs to make sure their brand loyalty continues. These companies also rely on the nostalgia of parents who played with the toys when they were younger.

But what about brands with a loyal brand population that don’t have a natural turnover rate from parent to child? How can these brands prepare themselves for a major generational shift?

That major generational shift is already on its way. Baby boomers — Americans born post-World War II to around 1964 — are retiring in vast numbers. Right now, there are 40 million Americans aged 65 and older. These citizens make up 13% of the population, according to Census.gov. By 2030, the 65+ age group will climb to 20% of the population and become the single biggest age demographic, following “the greying trend” of other fully industrialized countries around the world.

This represents a major shift in purchasing power. Brands that rely on baby boomers as their core demographic have been aware of the coming shift for years.

But few have begun to prepare for it as successfully as Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

Harley-Davidson is an iconic American brand that truly grew into its legendary status right after World War II — growing up alongside baby boomers.

1-as

Harley-Davidson, INC (HOG): Geared Up For a Strong Ride, Scutify (2014)

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Philip Axelrod

Customer-Centric Marketing: Listen to your customers if you want to live

May 12th, 2015

Listen to your customers. That must seem like an obvious statement to most marketers.

However, taking into account the variables under which your performance is judged, how much can you really listen? Time and time again, I have seen many marketers find that KPIs conflict with what their customers really want.

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we will explore a few key instances from companies in various stages of maturity where focus on customers predominantly contributed toward subsequent success.

terminator

 

The underlying truth of the above statement is profound whether implied in the business sense, the entrepreneurial sense or even the “Terminator” sense from which this phrase emanates. In this day and age, if you want your business to live, you must listen to your customers.

 

The Customer Voice at Launch: The case of Yelp

As is the story for many startups, (including Twitter, which was originally a podcasting platform called Odeo), the Yelp we know and value today was not what its founders initially intended for it to be.

yelp

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Andrea Johnson

Real-Time Marketing: How Publishers Clearing House increased engagement through testing

May 8th, 2015

Publishers Clearing House is winning the real-time marketing game. Their online brand, PCH.com, currently gets 16 million unique visits per month, and those visitors spend an average of 17 minutes on the site. The marketing team achieved this by delivering a personalized message to every visitor  on the site — messages that were designed to be relevant to what visitors were doing on the site.

At MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014, Michael Zane, Senior Director of Online Marketing, Publishers Clearing House, revealed how, in just under a year, the marketing team has increased:

  • Time spent on their site by 43%
  • Overall engagement by 46%
  • Revenues per 1,000 visitors by 12%

 

They achieved this by:

1. Identifying two personas with very simple audience segmentation:

  • Engaged visitors — customers who had played one or more instant-win or sweepstakes games
  • Unengaged visitor — customers who had visited at least twice but had not yet played a game or entered a sweepstakes

2. Determining what they wanted visitors to do as a result of real-time marketing. This involved:

  • Engaging the unengaged
  • Driving the somewhat-engaged visitors to go deeper into the site

3. Testing to learn what will drive engagement. The team set a testing baseline by gathering data for six weeks

  • They conducted A/B tests targeting their unengaged visitors. The control was the site without special messaging, and the treatment featured a very simple one-line header. The result achieved a 36% lift in engaged users.
  • The team tested again. They suspected that they were on the right track and were eager to try a pop up designed by their graphic artists. After all, Zane was certain a designed pop-up would get results. He was right, but not in the way he expected. However, what they learned was still very valuable and influenced future tests. Find out more in this below clip:

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Courtney Eckerle

Social Media Marketing: How Lilly Pulitzer, Kahlua and Neiman Marcus use brand influencers

Customers have long been wary of content sponsored by brands. This is probably because marketers have been trying to sneak it past them for years — the notorious “Sponsored Content” label, buried at the bottom in tiny font.

The marketers from Lilly Pulitzer, Kahlua and Neiman Marcus — which have all been previously featured in MarketingSherpa case studies — found ways to be transparent about collaborating with bloggers and vloggers to promote their brands.

The brands were also able to approach this content in such fun, creative and colorful ways that consumers didn’t really care the content was company-generated, causing customers to engage regardless of the source material. Read on to learn how to create sponsored content that actually interests audiences.

 

Bringing bloggers along for the (bike) ride with Lilly Pulitzer

Every year, Lilly Pulitzer has a brand theme for all its marketing materials and events. This year, it is “Spill the Juice.”

Spill the Juice

 

#Spillthejuice, the hashtag for the year, goes back to the brand’s origin story, which is the life of Lilly Pulitzer herself.

Lilly Pulitzer was born into New York society and “could’ve lived a fancy life of galas and soirées and black ties and gloves. But she … was a real rule breaker,” Eleni Tavantzis, Senior Manager of Social Media Marketing and Public Relations, Lilly Pulitzer, said, adding that in her early twenties, Pulitzer eloped to Palm Beach, where her husband’s family owned citrus groves.

She eventually started a juice stand using citrus from the grove, and Pulitzer created her first shift dress because she wanted a wild print that would hide the juice stains on her dress — hence the phrase, “Spill the Juice.”

The brand frequently collaborates with fashion bloggers, according to Eleni. To pull the brand’s theme and brand influencers together, the team puts together trips to create powerful brand content.

“We’ve done two this year, two Lilly Spill The Juice influencer trips where we bring some of our favorite fashion bloggers and editors to Palm Beach with us to really experience what Lilly’s Palm Beach was like, which was not stuffy or fancy or full of rules,” Eleni said.

During these influencer trips, the marketers create a lifestyle out of brand ideals and have bloggers live it out — all while wearing Lilly Pulitzer, of course.

Spill the Juice Brand Influencers

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Courtney Eckerle

Customer-Centric Marketing: 5 tips on mining customers for content

May 1st, 2015

A blinking cursor on a blank page is a terrifying sight for a writer. It’s like having arachnophobia and someone putting a spider in your hair. The struggle is, in fact, real.

The good news is that, as marketers, we have it easy. Customers are telling you what they want to hear, and it’s only a matter of listening to what they’re saying. Sounds simple, right? I can practically hear everyone mentally (or maybe actually) murmuring, “Duh.”

However, when it comes to talking about tactics for making customers the genesis of content, every marketer I have interviewed for a case study or blog post — and there have been many — has made me dig deeper. That’s because this is an issue so many content creators struggle with in execution.

Whether it’s email, blogs, social media or any of the other seemingly endless channels, the main point is to have a conversation. Be engaging.

I recently wrote a case study for our Email Marketing newsletter with JustAnswer. Seeing as how it’s a service where customers come to the site to ask questions, you would think creating content would be simple. One of the best tips for coming up with content is to simply answer customer questions.

Just Answer blog categories

 

However, with so many questions being asked and topics including law, mechanics, medical (both humans and animals), plumbing and technology, just to name a few, the options are dauntingly endless, forcing marketers to be creative with their tactics.

Below is bonus material from the case study about how the JustAnswer team approaches content creation — both email and otherwise.

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Daniel Beulah

How to Increase Customer Interaction Using 6 Factors in Your Social Media

April 28th, 2015

With the plethora of social media platforms out there, each with its own unique features and elements, it has become harder for marketers to leverage these social channels into successful campaigns.

In social media channels, what sets failed campaigns apart from successful ones is innovation.

The millennial generation (people born between 1980 and 1995), is quicker to adapt to new technology than older generations. We are usually the first on new social media platforms and the first to abandon them once something better comes along.

Marketing using social media is a low cost investment that could have a high return. To specifically see this with millennials, focus on valuing innovation over consistency.

Don’t be afraid to end a successful campaign right at its peak. This creates a strong “Fear of Missing Out” emotion. FOMO is a big emotional driver for millennials. It is the same drive that compels a majority of us to stand in line at specialty shops hoping to get our hands on a limited edition item to translate into bragging rights over friends on social media. The mark of a successful campaign is one that not only creates customers but also organic brand representatives.

When using social media, marketers have discovered a lot of wrong ways to market to millennials and just as many right ones. The difference between them is learning how to strike a balance between sincerity and irony, detail and vagueness and new and unproven.

 

Sincerity and irony

Millennials in general love irony. Campaigns that are self-aware and poke fun at their own calls-to-action, while still sincerely telling you why you should buy their product over competitors, work better in social media than traditional campaigns.

irony

 

Newcastle beer company recently had a series of ad campaigns that poked fun at the traditional beer commercial featuring beautiful people drinking beer and having a great time. The campaign’s coup de grace was a Super Bowl ad making fun of how much money beer producers spend on Super Bowl ads by trying to put as many brands as possible into a one-minute commercial. The ad has been viewed 1.5 million times in two months and, through that, has probably increased Newcastle’s popularity with young adults.

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