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Dimensional Weight Pricing: How a “17 pound” feather can affect your ecommerce profit margins

August 25th, 2015 No comments

Ecommerce has long been considered to have a cost advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers. After all, real estate, inventory and human resource costs are all lower.

However, these reduced costs come at an expense — Internet retailers rely on a third-party for fulfillment. Which means their margins and perhaps overall business model is at the mercy of other companies.

This dependency became all the more clear recently when UPS and FedEx announced a significant change to shipping policies by applying dimensional weight pricing (also known as DIM) to all ground shipments. This means that the size (length, weight and height) of even lightweight objects could cause increases in shipping costs for ecommerce vendors.

A concrete example of this is The Wall Street Journal estimating a 37% increase in price for a 32-pack of toilet paper and a 35% increase for a two-slice toaster.

At the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015, I spoke with Abe Garver, a contributor to Yahoo! Finance and an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) banker, to discuss how these shipping changes are affecting ecommerce companies. Abe used the example of a peacock feather — which may really only weight six ounces, but due to its large size is considered weighing 17 pounds when calculating the cost of shipping.

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Email Marketing: Why you should run a win-back campaign (and how CNET engaged 26% of inactives)

August 7th, 2015 No comments

Sometimes people fall out of love … with your newsletters and email marketing.

Or change jobs. Or email providers. There are a million reasons why they stop reading and engaging with your emails.

This is why email marketers need to run win-back campaigns. That is, reaching out to inactive subscribers and compelling or convincing them to re-engage with your email sends.

If they don’t re-engage, it’s time for a list cleansing — no longer sending emails to this group.

 

A smaller, but higher-quality, email list

The end result can be painful in some ways; it will likely result in a smaller email list (and the older the list is, the more shrinkage you will experience).

This is only painful because we all like big numbers. We like to tell our CMO, our clients and brag to our childhood friends at the high school reunion (hey, when they’re all doctors, you gotta brag about something) about how we run email marketing to a list of 1,000 … 10,000 … no … one million email subscribers.

One million email subscribers meme
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What Do Customers Really Think About Your Email Marketing?

July 31st, 2015 No comments

At the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, we interviewed your successful brand-side marketing peers, along with researchers and industry thought leaders.

One interview stuck out from the rest because we interviewed someone who’s title was “customer.”

Jill DAmato, the wife of our own Brian DAmato, Senior Vice President of Partner Solutions, MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa), agreed to sit down and answer a few questions.

We had recently fielded a survey with 2,057 American consumers about their email preferences, and it was interesting to sit down with a representative customer to help bring that survey data to life …

“Email is great, because it’s very quick and easy. But it does have to be something very catchy and very relevant and timely. Because if it’s not, I’m not going to open that,” Jill said.

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Email Marketing: How Ferguson Enterprises generated over $10 million in online revenue

July 14th, 2015 No comments

Well, it’s that time of year again in Jacksonville, Florida. The sun is shining. The summer skies are blue. Surf’s up at the beach. And we at MarketingSherpa are doing our best to ignore the siren call of summer to focus on … applications.

Lot of applications. Over 300 applications to speak at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 in Las Vegas, to be precise.

It was around this time last year that I came across a truly remarkable story. While culling through all of the speaker applications for MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 to find the best stories to share from the stage, I came across the story of Mary Abrahamson, Email Marketing Specialist, Ferguson Enterprises — the largest plumbing wholesaler in North America.

Mary and her team combined offline and online efforts to generate more than $10 million in online revenue through the Ferguson Rewards program, which included more than 90 in-person events. Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Mary in the Media Center at Email Summit before her session.

“Be transparent about what you’re trying to do with the customer information they’re providing to you,” Mary advised.

She also talked about the necessity of having quality content.

“In 2015, mediocre content is no longer okay. It’s really important to make sure that … you’re the source of information for your customers,” Mary said.

After her time in the Media Center, I interviewed Mary onstage about her entire case study. She took the audience through the customer journey of two personas and the targeted offers and content that helped them move through Ferguson’s funnel.

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

May 29th, 2015 No comments

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.

 

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

May 19th, 2015 No comments

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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Digital Marketing: Content marketing, social media and SEO predictions for 2015

February 20th, 2015 4 comments

Every year at Email Summit, we ask marketers for their predictions.

Before MarketingSherpa reporter Courtney Eckerle interviews you about your marketing predictions in the Email Summit Media Center, I figured it was only fair to put a stake in the ground and make some predictions you could hold me to as well.

digitalmarketing2

 

Prediction #1: Convergence is the watchword for digital marketing this year

You’ve already seen (and will continue to see) convergence among marketing and business software platforms, and this trend will continue to grow as the line blurs between publishers, brands and marketing agencies.

Curve by Getty Images. Verizon’s experiment with Sugarstring. And, of course, The Red Bulletin. More and more brands are learning the power of building this kind of one-to-one connection with their audiences, building an owned audienc, and not having to borrow interest from television or other content creators.

At the same time, publishers are creating content for brands with their own agency arms, as well (a bit of a blast from the past when newspapers used to help create ads to sell media space).

Tribune Publishing (which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other dailies) bought a stake in Contend, a content agency that creates branded campaigns. Onion Labs, The Onion’s in-house ad agency, has made some seriously cool campaigns. Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ recently hired a director of branded content and launched a branded content shop which blurs the line between editorial and promotion.

Advertising and marketing agencies, more threatened than ever by brands and publishers, will try to get an ownership stake in the ideas they help create, like Anomaly did with EOS cosmetics or how 37signals went from being a website redesign shop to a software company selling Basecamp.

Data, will of course, be huge. This will be of benefit to content creators of all stripes listed above. Since they have the traffic and relationship with the audience, they have the ability to learn the audience’s preferences based on their behavior, and then engage in A/B testing with these audiences to build a strong understanding of the products, services and offers that these customers will most respond to.

But behind it all, let’s not overlook the people with the knowhow to make it happen, which can be a scarce resource — brilliant, brilliant marketers, writers, designers and data scientists.

Being able to navigate this land of data and convergence, networking and real relationships will be critical for the marketer to build cross-functional teams that understand all the elements it will take to be successful — content, technology, data and strategy. That’s one reason we pay so much attention to the audience experience and foster interactions and networking at Email Summit.

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Vendor Selection: A 5-step process for choosing a marketing automation solution or agency

February 3rd, 2015 No comments

How do you move 18 to 20 segments of customers through the learning process of a complex sale? Mitch Zlotnik, President, and Seth Pauley, Vice President, both of Audimute Acoustic Panels, used marketing automation to educate customers with content on a large buying decision.

To learn the process they used to find the right marketing automation solution and agency to help create this low-touch ecommerce operation, I interviewed Mitch and Seth.

“We’ve been rapidly growing for the last eight years. We’ve found a good partner selection helps you grow your business. A poor selection extracts resources from your business, creates problems that hinder growth,” Seth said.

 

Mitch and Seth discussed their “Five Q” Technology or Agency Selection Process:

  • Qualified (at 3:39 and 7:40 in the video interview)
  • Quantified (at 5:52)
  • Quick (at 5:05)
  • Quill (at 8:30)
  • Quality (at 8:39)

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Global Ecommerce: The $1.2 trillion opportunity outside North America

January 16th, 2015 No comments

According to eMarketer, a marketing research company, ecommerce sales are expected to hit $1.771 trillion this year — with $1.233 trillion of those sales coming from outside North America.

Keeping this figure in mind, I sat down with Don Davis, Editor-in-Chief, Internet Retailer, after his trip to Shanghai to get some tips and advice for you as you expand your ecommerce business internationally:

 

We talked about the similarities and differences to the U.S. market, challenges of fulfillment and the important of trust to the Chinese consumer.

For example, when discussing trust, Don said, “Ratings and reviews are really important in China, because there are still a lot of fakes.”

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Ecommerce: Building online trust before customers click over to your competitors’ sites

December 23rd, 2014 No comments

All marketing is built on trust. Without trust, customers won’t subscribe to your email. They won’t open. They won’t click. And they certainly won’t buy.

Keeping this in mind, I interviewed Craig Spiezle, Executive Director and President, Online Trust Alliance, about security, privacy and consumer protection. I’ve also and provided tips on how you can build trust with your customers.

 

“Privacy policies were written by attorneys, for attorneys,” Craig joked. “And you need three attorneys to figure them out. It’s a great job enhancement thing for the legal profession. It does nothing for consumers.”

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