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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Ecommerce: Northwestern University study on how online reviews affect sales

August 15th, 2017
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Every week (as the name suggests), I write the Marketing Sherpa Chart of the Week email newsletter. And so, every week, I come across interesting research and data, along with sources that add analysis and color to that research.

Usually, that analysis is confined to the MarketingSherpa Chart article. However, this week, my cup especially runneth over with good ideas and analysis that I thought you might find helpful on your ecommerce sites, especially as you set the groundwork for your holiday marketing initiatives.

When I interviewed Tom Collinger, the Executive Director of the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University, and Edward Malthouse, professor at Medill Northwestern and the Research Director of the Spiegel Center, we went well over our allotted time.

You can see their data and some of their analysis in this week’s Chart of the Week article — Ecommerce Chart: Star ratings’ impact on purchase probability. But if you’d like a deeper understanding of their research into how online reviews affect sales, I’ve included a lightly edited transcript of our conversation below. To make the transcript easily scannable for you, I call out key points with bolded subheads

Bringing evidence to the answer of how newer forms of consumer engagement with brands drive financial impact

Daniel Burstein: Why don’t we jump in and you give me a high level of the type of work you’re doing here? I believe, Tom, we may have had you as a source in the past at one point.

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Quick Analysis: Amazon could have bought any food retailer. Why Whole Foods? And how should retailers react?

June 16th, 2017
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Much of the buzz about Amazon’s agreement to buy Whole Foods has focused around the new physical distribution channel, especially for fresh food, that Amazon will now be able to leverage. And bricks-and-mortar retailers — especially grocers — are woefully behind in the use of technology in commerce. Of course.

But if that was the case, Amazon could have bought any retailer. Why Whole Foods specifically? Why a company that was likely more focused on the Amazon rain forest than Amazon.com until today?

Whole Foods Market is a high-touch, decadent customer experience company. Amazon is a low-touch, high-efficiency company. This is not a natural fit. It would have been more of a natural fit for Amazon to start experimenting with a regional, low-price-oriented supermarket like Southeastern Grocers (sure, they wouldn’t get the instant national presence, but they would acquire a large testing lab to optimize the business model).

While Amazon acquired Zappos, Soap.com, Diapers.com, etc. — it is not a particularly acquisitive company. And while much news has been made about a hedge fund’s involvement, this acquisition doesn’t reek of financial engineering like so many other M&A deals have.

So what data are we missing that Amazon has?

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‘Twas the Night Before Sending: How Ebates created a compelling holiday email send in one day

November 11th, 2016
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As marketers become fully entrenched in the hectic holiday season, it’s easy to just keep to the schedule while letting customer engagement opportunities pass by.

Derek Kazee, Director of Retention Marketing, Ebates, and I spoke about this issue in the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 about how his team overcame the biggest holiday season obstacle cutting through the noise.

By reacting quickly after some holiday inspiration, Derek and his team quickly mobilized to engage with members about current and upcoming promotions in a fun and informative way.

“I got an idea to do something different, which was actually to remind and to preview all of the promos we were going to launch because I was having trouble keeping track of it myself,” he said.

Derek came into the office with that idea and challenged his team to come up with something that would be informative, non-promotional and engaging at the same time. As a result, one of the copy writers rewrote “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and it was designed in just one day.

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Startups 101: How and why a green retailer chose to bootstrap instead of accepting venture capital

August 26th, 2016
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If you’re an entrepreneur running a startup and begin to find some success, you will likely face a crossroads:

  • Should I bootstrap, funding the business myself with personal savings and/or ongoing revenue?
  • Should I procure funding and give away ownership interests to a venture capitalist or private equity firm?

To help you make this decision, we interviewed Brian Fricano, Founder/CEO, Sustainable Supply. He is an entrepreneur who has weighed the pros and cons of each option and made this decision for his own startup.

Brian and his wife launched Sustainable Supply seven years ago as a business with a social mission. “The core of what we were trying to do was sell products for commercial buildings that save water and save energy,” Brian said.

Profitable from day one

They started the business without any outside funding, according to Brian.

“Bootstrapping has forced us to be profitable from day one,” Brian said.

Without a cushion of outside funding, the company had to be creative, and launched with a “drop shipping” model, in which products are shipped directly to customers after they purchase and not to a retailer’s warehouse.

“We signed up dozens of suppliers that were willing to drop ship on our behalf, so we were able to become a virtual distributor, never taking possession of inventory,” he said.

Not only did the drop shipping model allow Sustainable Supply to start operations without the need to invest in inventory, it also tied into its social mission by reducing the carbon footprint and pollution generated from shipping products twice (first to the retailer, and then to the customer).

Success brings offers of capital

Sustainable Supply was successful, and was named the fifth-fastest growing retailer on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. This attracted the attention of venture capitalists interested in investing in high-growth startups.

This decision has worked for his company for two reasons. First, Brian would have diluted his ownership if he accepted the investment.

“Our growth after that has [grown four times over] since we made the Inc. 500 list. Had we brought on investors, we would have given away too much too early in the process,” Brian said.

Sticking to its social mission

In addition, his company has a social mission. Its tagline is “Build. Work. Green.” While there are a few exceptions, most venture capitalists are focused on growth and profitability, and less concerned with a social mission.

“Each venture capitalist has its own specialty, not a lot are specialized in sustainability…there’s not a lot out there that have a social component to them,” Brian said.

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Email Marketing: ‘Go Green’ campaign lifts revenue $30K for bookstore chain

Watch more interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016

Customer-First Marketing: Understanding customer pain and responding with action

August 5th, 2016
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It’s all too easy to think of our jobs narrowly: “I’m a marketer. I’m in ecommerce. I’m in the apparel industry. I work in tech.”

But what we really do, or at least what we should be doing, is much too big to be constrained by a single job title or industry.

To give you an example, I came across an interesting story while conducting interviews at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016. As you would expect, most of the interviews focused around hot ecommerce topics like Amazon Marketplace, Snapchat, and funding a startup.

But I had a deeper conversation with Joe Peppers, the Ecommerce Market Sector Leader at The Weitz Company.

But previously, Joe went to West Point and served three tours of duty in Iraq as a Captain in the U.S. Army, before going on to work in ecommerce for Amazon, Apple, Fanatics.com, and now The Weitz Company.

I discovered some interesting lessons from military service that can be applied to ecommerce, so we sat down to talk about it…

Personally, I have two big takeaways from this conversation.

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Direct Marketing vs. Wholesale Marketing: How Steve Madden organizes and optimizes its $1.4 billion shoe empire

June 9th, 2016
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When your business is 80% wholesale like Steve Madden, how do you carve out a unique value proposition for your direct ecommerce business?

 

Watch the full interview to find out

“The value proposition of our site is that we have the deepest selection [and] we have it before anyone else.”

So said Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce for Steve Madden, yesterday during a live interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016.

Additionally, Mark mentions the company’s community of rabid Steve Madden fans in social channels and through the SM Mag.

“It’s crazy how people feel about the brand. We incorporate that into the site, and that gives others some perspective of how some people are wearing it. You’re getting to see not only the product that they bought, but their complete look and how they put it together,” Mark said.

Of course, because the business is 80% wholesale, Steve Madden can’t just leave partners out in the cold. To balance its relationship with partners, Mark mentions the team employs a variety of tactics, including:

  • Syndicate product photography done in-house
  • Syndicate product reviews that were written on SteveMadden.com

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How NakedWines.com Used Email to Maximize Lifetime Value

April 15th, 2016
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How do you turn a name on a list into a loyal and engaged subscriber?

Ecommerce site NakedWines.com has accomplished this by establishing a community of customers and “Angel” members. These customers fund independent wine makers in return for access to hand-crafted wine at a lower cost.

At the MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Media Center, Julia Fox, Marketing Manager, NakedWines.com, spoke about how her team wanted to maximize member lifetime value during the early phases of the customer journey.

 

“Since we’re all ecommerce, email is obviously a huge part of our success,” Julia said, adding that most of the company’s revenue comes from these “Angel” members, which means nurturing new customers into Angels through this channel is especially important.

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How to Market Your Event – the Zumba Way

April 5th, 2016
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It’s finally here, the moment I’ve been waiting for: ZINCON 2016! The Zumba® Instructor Network Convention has been the talk of the year amongst Zumba instructors worldwide. In our world, it’s the most secretive, yet thrilling, event of the year.

Being a participant in the buildup to this convention reminded me that event marketing is an opportunity to leverage in-person engagement and build relationships with your customer.

In planning, every company’s approach will differ, but your execution has to be tight. Your overall goal is always to make an impact on your customer, and Zumba is a fantastic example of how to do that.  As a new instructor myself, all I’ve heard over the last few months was how valuable and fun ZINCON has been in previous years, which only made me want to Zumba my way there!

ZINCON Navigation

As I went through the process of registering for this event, I wanted to share three tips I found interesting in Zumba’s promotion of this special convention.

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Social Media Marketing: How an online diamond retailer got 6 million Vine loops in one year

December 4th, 2015
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When you think of social media marketing, you may think of the behemoth — Facebook. Sure, it has almost 1.5 billion monthly active users, but where there is a lot of sound, there is a lot of noise. It is difficult to get your message heard.

I interviewed Danny Gavin, Vice President and Director of Marketing, Brian Gavin Diamonds, about using emerging social media platforms to create brand awareness.

 

Here are a few lessons I learned from our conversation.

 

Focus on branding, not selling

Since many emerging platforms are, well, emerging, there hasn’t been a lot of commerce on them yet. Most social platforms focus first on building an audience, and only later on actually monetizing that audience.

New social platforms tend to have a loyal, niche audience that is looking for authentic, organic conversations and wary of the nefarious effects of commercialization. So whatever content you create, make sure it rings true with what the social platform is known for.

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How One B2C Leveraged Social Good to Increase Ecommerce Sales

November 17th, 2015
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Introducing a whole new customer segment to your brand can be a challenge for marketers. Especially when your brand transitions from catering solely to professional specialists to the general B2C market. That’s the challenge the team at mybody skincare faced when they were looking to expand from selling to physicians to also selling directly to consumers.

Abby Traister, Vice President of Marketing, and Mike Nelson, Marketing Director of Online, both of mybody skincare, sat down with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, in the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015 to discuss how the company used a combination of social media virality and support for a good cause to introduce this brand to its B2C audience. By supporting a charity that was personally related to mybody skincare’s founder, the company was able to do good while introducing its brand in an authentic way.

According to Abby, mybody skincare had only marketed to physicians prior to March 2015. Around that time, a B2C ecommerce site was introduced but it wasn’t seeing as much traffic as the mybody skincare team wanted. The team then saw an opportunity to combine its dedication to philanthropy to promoting its new product line.

The company’s founder, David Watson, is a chairman on the board for the charitable organization Bring Change 2 Mind, which works to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. Because the company had a personal connection to this organization, it decided to partner with Bring Change 2 Mind and donate a percentage of mybody skincare’s new product online sales to support this organization.

“A lot of people wanted to get involved, and so it was a great way to get our products out there in the hands of the consumers who have never heard of us before, drive traffic to our site and help a good cause all at the same time,” Abby said.

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