Andrea Johnson

How Automation Transformed a Distributor’s Online Business

March 17th, 2015

When you’re running a small online business, what’s the fastest, easiest way to grow your business and save money? Automation, according to Lenny Kharitonov, President of Unlimited Furniture Group, a furniture retailer.

Kharitonov says his company was among the first in the furniture industry to automate the online order fulfillment process.

“The furniture industry in general is not very technology savvy,” he admitted.

The Unlimited Furniture website markets products from a variety of manufacturers that ship them directly to the customer. Before automation, the Unlimited Furniture team and its vendors handled every aspect of the transaction manually using a combination of spreadsheets and Google docs. Now customers can order online, and the details are instantly sent to the vendor. Once the vendor ships out the product, Unlimited Furniture automatically receives all of the information about the shipment and updates the customer without any manual involvement.

This automated process:

  • Prevents mistakes. “When you do things manually, it’s subject to human error,” Kharitonov said. “For instance, somebody could put in the wrong quantity or wrong color; it could be done on our side or the vendor’s side.”
  • Eliminates duplication of effort. Before automation, Unlimited Furniture would enter a purchase order manually then send it to the vendor, who would enter the same information manually.
  • Saves money. Automating order fulfillment has slashed Unlimited Furniture’s administrative costs 40%.
  • Speeds delivery. Orders are processed real-time now, instead of waiting for someone at Unlimited Furniture and the vendor to manually process it.“The quicker the service you give the customer, the more likely you’ll get repeat business,” Kharitonov said.

“We want to grow the business. We don’t want to spend all our time processing orders,” he explained. “In this day and age, it’s assumed that’s automatic, but it’s not. I know a lot of our competitors are still doing it manually.”

Watch the full interview and find out more about the power of automation here:

  Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , ,

Courtney Eckerle

Social Media: Understanding Pinterest consumers

March 13th, 2015

“The only reason any brand exists in the first place is because it helps people do something in their lives,”  Kevin Knight, Head of Agency and Brand Strategy, Pinterest said.

In his session at The Digital Marketing Conference — Adobe Summit, Kevin spoke about what makes Pinterest unique to marketers and brands in the social media sphere.

Mainly, unlike other social sites, it’s kind of a loner.

Not in the standing alone in the corner at the school dance kind of a way, but in a “Best All Around” superlative kind of way: independent, and not only party-planning the dance, but countless other activities and interests as well.

“They’re using it for themselves,” Kevin said, adding that many users don’t follow a lot of people, because they using the platform to fulfill their own needs, not to impress anyone else.

 

What is a Pin?

“Art and copy, as old as advertising itself,” Kevin said.

What is a Pin

 

Who is on Pinterest?

  • 70M+ monthly users in the U.S.
  • 40% of women in the U.S. are on Pinterest
  • 75% of usage is on a mobile device
  • One-third of millennials are on Pinterest

*Based on comScore Sept 2014, desktop and mobile, U.S. users, and internal Pinterest data

Those 70 million monthly users utilize Pinterest to discover, save and then do, Kevin said. Over 30 billion pins ave been categorized by people into more than 750 million boards, and this is a highly personal interaction to them.

Pinners are sharing their interests, hobbies, hopes and goals, creating the narrative of their future through pinning actions.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Inbound Marketing Tags: , , ,

Courtney Eckerle

Digital Marketing: Quick insights from Adobe Summit on perfecting the art and science of marketing

March 11th, 2015

From the opening General Session at Adobe Digital Marketing Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, the speakers reiterated, in one way or another, the thesis statement made by Brad Rencher, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Adobe:

Consistent and continuous experiences only happen when marketing goes beyond marketing, and the reality is that brands have to earn it every day, with each experience. With each touch point, we either win or we lose.

Marketers need to fight every day to be personal with consumers — this isn’t a plane you can reach or a level to be achieved. It’s a consistent struggle won through consistently building up small interactions.

If those word choices — fight, struggle — sound harsh, forgive me. With Adobe Summit’s gigantic main stage, complete with three towering screens, impeccable design and A/V feats, it’s easy to lean into the theatrical feel of the event.

Adobe-031115

 

Digital marketing is certainly not real war or strife, but each speaker takes the stage not unlike the speech in “Patton,” commanding attendees to work for a better (marketing) world. The marketers here begin to feel like foot soldiers who believe they can engage customers with genuine interactions.

These aren’t actions savvy brands should be shirking from because they’re difficult, but running toward. There are an overwhelming number of opportunities to understand your customers in digital marketing.

These three takeaways are just a start.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , ,

Erin Hogg

Social Media: Mellow Mushroom’s tips for engaging Facebook followers

March 6th, 2015

Two things come to mind for me when I think of the word social:

  1. Social media
  2. Pizza

Social media for brands is all about developing a thriving online community of fans and followers that engage with your content and (hopefully) become brand ambassadors. To do this, your content must have that “engage-ability” factor: what will make your content or social presence something that your audience will want to share and interact with?

Pizza is also something that we socially consume. Arguably, sometimes we don’t share it, but overall, when you have friends over or you don’t feel like cooking for your family, pizza is always a solid option. Social gatherings call for pizza.

In a way, you could say that pizza and social media go hand in hand — they definitely do for Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers.

I recently had a chance to chat with Steven Sams, Digital Content Manager, Dusty Griffin, Senior Graphic Designer and Robert Pierce, Social Media Manager, all of Mellow Mushroom, for a MarketingSherpa case study about their work with the brand’s email marketing efforts.

We had so much to talk about that I even asked the team for a second interview to discuss the brand’s social media efforts. Why? Mellow Mushroom has truly found a way to speak its audience’s language and cater to that via social media.

Even if you’re not a pizza restaurant, there are still great lessons to be learned from Mellow Mushroom’s efforts. Read on for those, as well as the team’s top tips for interacting with an audience on Facebook.

 

Facebook for Mellow Mushroom

Steven explained that for Mellow Mushroom, Facebook is the main social media channel. With more than 172,000 followers on the platform, average posts will reach up to 2,000 people — sometimes up to 46,000.

Mellow Mushroom has several elements of its Facebook strategy that the team lives by:

 

Frequency and timing

First, frequency is key. At the corporate level, the team aims to post twice a day. This was upped from once a day because of recent Facebook algorithm changes causing lower performance in posts.

“We’re trying out some different things with our frequency because not many people are seeing them in their News Feed based on the algorithm. We thought we should post a little bit more,” Steven explained.

Next, the time of day the team is posting is also important. If they are posting something food-related right before lunch or dinner time, they will entice followers to stop by Mellow Mushroom for their next meal.

mellow 1

 

However, a busy time on Facebook is later in the evening, between 8 and 10 p.m., and the brand will post more quirky content. This content isn’t aimed at driving people to a restaurant to eat, but rather, to simply engage and entertain their base.

mellow 2

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Social Media Tags: , , , , ,

Paul Cheney

Ecommerce Investment Advice: How marketers can make their companies more valuable

March 3rd, 2015

We don’t often think of business investors as marketing experts.

However, great marketing is grounded in a great value proposition. If anyone is good at finding a value proposition, it’s a (smart) potential buyer of a business. Great investors have a way of cutting through all the hype and finding the true value (or lack thereof) in a company.

It stands to reason, then, that a great investor would be a stellar resource to tap for your marketing efforts.

Enter Abe Garver, Managing Director, BG Strategic Advisors. Abe attended IRCE last year and was able to talk to former MarketingSherpa reporter Allison Banko about how ecommerce marketers can develop an acquisition mindset and help grow their business, whether they plan to sell or not.

In this interview he covers:

  • How you value an ecommerce company
  • The four keys to making your ecommerce company more investor friendly (and as a result, customer friendly)
  • Why ecommerce companies aren’t really getting it right, and who really is

 

You might also like:

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

How a B2B Company Used Live Chat to Speed up the Sales Cycle

Marketing Research Chart: Clear communications and unconscious customer bias

Inbound Marketing: How Infochimps grew its database 94% in one year

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Ecommerce Eretail Tags: , , ,

Selena Blue

Email Summit 2015 According to Twitter: Your peers share their key takeaways from Day 1 on engaging, empowering and serving customers

February 25th, 2015

If you haven’t noticed, #SherpaEmail has taken over Twitter.

Well, maybe not in a break-the-Internet scale of Kim Kardashian, but your marketing peers have been tweeting their hearts out with all the good information they’ve learned at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015.

With Day 2 of Summit underway, we wanted to share some key nuggets your peers found valuable on Day 1. (I might have smuggled a few of my own in too.) Check out some key takeaways from each of yesterday’s insightful sessions.

 

Humanizing Your Email Program: How to transcend the digital revolution by using the essential ability to communicate person-to-person

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute

Flint revealed four fundamental principles that guide effective communication and provided examples of how these principles can be used to transform your entire email program.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , , , , ,

Courtney Eckerle

Three Takeaways on Customer-centric Marketing from Email Summit 2015 Media Center

February 24th, 2015

There are a lot of decisions that go into putting on Email Summit. Millions, probably, if you go deep enough.

But they all come around with one objective: you. The attendees and people who are reading about, and following, the event.

In every discussion and decision, we were asking ourselves how it would affect the experience. Your experience. So it made sense that when it came time to pick speakers and give out the Email Summit Awards, sponsored by BlueHornet, that customer-centric campaigns were the ones that rose above the rest.

Fellow Email Awards judge Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, and myself sat down on the steps of the (still under-construction) 2015 Email Summit Media Center to discuss some of our award winners and the customer-centric elements of campaigns featured at the Summit.

Media Center 2015

 

“The companies that focused on customers, that put their customers first, are the ones that ultimately have the sustainable competitive advantage,” Daniel said.

Our marketing compass points toward true customer-centricity, so it was important that marketers we featured held that same standard.

Daniel spoke about the B2B Award winner he has been working with over the past few months, Ferguson, and one of their main takeaways from their own event effort: Always look to enrich the customer experience.

Ferguson Enterprises generated more than $10 million and growing in online sales by enriching the customer experience within their 90 trade show events, which allowed Ferguson’s vendors to get in front of customers and promote their brands and products.

To accomplish that, Ferguson went from one email per event to a segmented series as well as optimized its onsite event registration for better retargeting.

Read the full case study here.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Consumer Marketing Tags: , , , ,

Daniel Burstein

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

February 20th, 2015

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.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , , , , , , ,

David Kirkpatrick

Email Marketing: List segmentation tips using social media and online behavior

February 17th, 2015

Unless you are executing batch-and-blast email campaigns (and I sincerely hope that you aren’t), your email strategy probably involves some level of personalization or at least getting relevant email content to the right person. In order to achieve either of those goals, the starting point is your email subscriber list and having that list segmented so you can pick and choose who in your database receives each email send.

Lists can be segmented many different ways, and obviously the more record fields you have on each person in your list, the easier it is to segment based on criteria such as geographical location, job title, industry and possibly even transaction history.

To provide a few ideas of how your peers are segmenting their lists for email campaigns, here are three examples taken from MarketingSherpa Newsletter case studies. Hopefully you will discover insights that are inspirational or maybe even something you can immediately apply to your own email efforts.

 

Tip #1. Utilize behavioral data for segmentation

This tip comes from an article titled, “Segmentation: How a small office supply ecommerce site boosted revenue 25% by sending more emails,” covering JAM Paper & Envelope, a New York City-based brick-and-mortar that added ecommerce in 2007. Andrew Jacobs, Director of Ecommerce, JAM Paper, said, “Essentially, we come up with one email a week, or every two weeks, or even a month if we didn’t have time, and we would send it out. We would just cross our fingers and hope for the best,” referring to the company’s initial batch-and-blast approach to email.

JAM Paper’s campaigns included a “lapsed purchase” send to anyone who hadn’t bought anything for 17 months, but the team decided segment beyond just a certain timeframe and began taking individual behavior into account for the campaign.

This meant looking at each customer’s buying behavior. Some bought monthly, or even weekly, while others bought only once a year. The team calculated the average time between orders for each customer and began sending the “lapsed purchase” email once each person passed their individual threshold. This tactic yielded a 45% conversion rate — the highest among all of JAM Paper’s email campaigns.

 

Tip #2. Mine social media for customer segmentation data

In the case study, “Email Marketing Segmentation: Clothing brand uses social behavioral data to drive a 141% increase in revenue,” Johnny Cupcakes, a mid-sized apparel retailer, linked its customer database to social media engagement of its individual customers, analyzing 19 million public social expressions.

These posts led to insights on data points such as:

  • Gender
  • Customer interests
  • Brand preferences
  • Media habits

Gender was seen as the key data point to uncover from the effort and was actually taken directly from social media profiles if that information was available. One of the insights into customer interests was that a lot of Johnny Cupcakes’ customers were sports fans.

The team decided to test these insights by promoting a baseball-themed shirt to the sports fan segment of its list.

Men on the list were sent an email featuring a male model and a shirt cut for men:

Men's shirt

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , ,

Daniel Beulah

How to Harness the Power of New Technology to Personalize to Your Audience

February 13th, 2015

We are in the midst of an informational and technological revolution. It is constantly changing the way we communicate. There is an unspoken drive deep down in the collective psyche of humanity that is pushing us to make communication faster and universal.

Being able to express complex ideas is vital to our species’ survival. It’s taken us from caves to high rises. From wall paintings and smoke signals to emails and international phone calls, the way we communicate is versatile and fluid. What’s the norm yesterday could easily be archaic tomorrow.

As marketers we have to communicate our companies’ ideas, products and values to potential customers in any medium they communicate in.

As we move toward more instant communication, the marketer has to evolve with consumers. Just like the shift from direct mail to email, the savvy marketer must know when to move to a new technological medium and how to market correctly in that medium.

 

Mobile email

For several years there have been predictions about the end of email.  While email has changed significantly in the last 20 years, we now send more emails than ever before.

According to emailisnotdead.com, there are currently 4.1 billion email accounts that send 122+ billion emails per hour — and 53% of those emails were opened on a mobile device. The future of communication is mobile email, and there is already a lot of it going on.

In order to get ahead of this curve, email service providers (ESPs) are developing algorithms that automatically sort your emails. Google unveiled their answer to the overcrowded inbox late in 2014. A consummate innovator and leader in the email space, Google has developed a system that automatically sweeps your emails into three easy to manage subfolders: Updates, Social and Promotions. They have allowed more design elements to be featured in the subject line space and have made it even easier to clear a whole inbox in seconds.

So what does that mean for marketers?

It means that as ESPs move into the future, they will use bundling to sort people’s emails. This will most likely lead to the average clickthrough rate decreasing. However, the quality of the leads will go up because emails, instead of being cookie-cutter sends, can be personalized for individuals based on data marketers accrue. In the future, designers will have to work with content writers to make sure their emails stick out visually, alongside personalization.

Effect of Gmail Tabs

Chart courtesy of: MailChimp

 

Marketing efforts will need to work in conjunction with all the other marketing options the company is using. We have to move away from thinking about individual campaigns and towards holistic, cohesive marketing tactics.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , , , ,