Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shopping Cart Abandonment And How You Can Stop It

The Challenge: According to recent research done by Fireclick/DigitalRiver, online retailers are experiencing shopping cart abandonment at a rate of about 74%. What can you do to prevent this from happening to you?

Shopping CartIn 2009, Forrester asked nearly 3000 web buyers why they abandon online purchases. In a recent study, Bronto analyzed the top reasons and classified them into 4 categories:

1. User Experience
The biggest problem customers had here was retailers asking for too much personal information upfront. People want to shop without unnecessary complications on the purchase path. These complications include required registration, too many pages, and poor site functionality.

2. Indecision
Abandoners who are on the fence about purchasing are usually the most responsive to post-abandonment messaging. However, understanding the behaviors that surround purchase indecision is required to shape post-abandonment marketing strategies.

3. Technical Issues
Technical issues that turned shoppers off included lack of online security, difficulty in redeeming promotional codes, lack of customer support, and constant redirection away from the cart, all of which ultimately lead to dissatisfaction. In order to keep customer interest, good customer service must be maintained along the entire purchase path. Zappos.com is a great example of this, constantly placing high on various “best of” lists for ease of use and customer service.

4. Product Cost & Additional Fees
Customers often drift away from their cart to compare prices with another product or site. Even if they¹re not lured away, this can still cause distraction at a crucial moment in the buying process. Many customers also leave their carts when they see shipping costs, having been spoiled by free shipping elsewhere, as in the case of Amazon.

Bronto also studied 100 companies, including Overstock.com, and how they reduced cart abandonment. Most companies who got customers back post-abandonment did so via follow-up e-mail. And here are some of their best practices.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

1. Test to determine the optimal timing for email follow-up.
Other than the obvious, which is that sooner is better, there¹s no magic time interval for email follow-up(s) after a customer abandons their cart. Conduct tests to measure response across different intervals; same day, 1 day, up to three days. Measure and evaluate.

2. Test incentives and promotions.
Everyone loves a discount. Test a percentage discount or free shipping when they complete their cart purchase. This provides incentive to complete the transaction. Also test a warm "thank you" and confirmation of next steps.

3. Avoid repeat abandoners.
Set controls on your program to keep shoppers from receiving abandoned cart reminders every time they abandon. This can result in customers being trained to abandon carts so they can receive free shipping or discount.

Monday, November 19, 2012

E-Mail: 3 Best Practices for Driving Engagement

The Challenge: Email is an essential element of almost every marketer’s multi-channel mix. But, it needs to do a better job of engaging readers. Here are 3 best practices.

2012 ElectionPer the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Council, 67% of marketers worldwide rated email as the most successful digital marketing tactic. In today’s competitive marketing arena, however, the key to that success hinges on being able to engage your customers. According to ExactTarget, engagement and customer revenue are directly connected to the relevance of your content. RealMagnet holds a similar view, stating that relevant content is fundamental when it comes to maximizing the lifetime value of your customers.

ExactTarget’s research has shown that as marketers increase the level of relevance, the potential to drive revenue increases exponentially as marketers begin to utilize more personalized, one-to-one marketing tactics. Our own Voice of Customer research indicates a similar finding; the value consumers receive in exchange for providing their information must be obvious and compelling. To overcome the legacy of receiving untargeted and irrelevant communications, consumers must see an obvious increase in relevance.

The following 3 best practices about engaging your customers via e-mail will help you deliver obvious value and relevance. Remember: if the value is not obvious, consumers will assume you have betrayed their trust and expectations.

3 Best Practices for Engaging Customers
via E-mail

1. Segment your communications.
Use every piece of relevant data you have about your customers. Their gender, job title, hobbies, interests, purchase history, browsing habits, and social media presence all provide essential insights. Use this information to create messages tailored to their daily needs and expectations.

2. Integrate your e-mail marketing and CRM (customer relationship management) systems.
Instead of spreading customer data across multiple third-party and in-house CRMs (staff-compiled databases), you should consolidate your customer data into one integrated system. Doing so makes it easier to personalize your marketing to create precise segments, acquire new leads, and nurture leads through your sales cycle.

3. Test to discover what works.
Run an A/B test each time you create a new marketing piece, so that you can maximize your level of engagement. Test various subject lines and content - such as sales copy, promotional offers, and calls-to-action - to see what performs best. Simple tests like these are easy to perform and guarantee that you’re delivering the most relevant content that you can offer. You can also give consumers the ability to hear from you through multiple channels by sporadically testing the promotion of other channels within all of your social networks.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Twitter: Taking Multichannel Marketing To New Levels

The Challenge: During Ad Week, Twitter VP Joel Lunenfeld drew a staggering correlation between a user’s activity on Twitter and their television watching habits. What could this mean for multichannel customer engagement?

2012 ElectionDuring his IAB Mixx presentation at Ad Week, Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s global brand strategy VP, shared data that Twitter had gathered about users’ brand relationships. According to Lunenfeld, 9 out of 10 users follow at least one brand on Twitter.

While most users followed brands for the sake of receiving promotional news, 87% followed brands for entertainment purposes and 80% did so for access to exclusive content.

More interesting, however, was the correlation found between Twitter usage and TV watching habits. “Twitter is the EKG of action for television,” said Lunenfeld, citing data that showed 50% of Twitter users do so while watching TV. This provides massive opportunities for multi-channel engagement, and brands are capitalizing on this by turning their Twitter conversations into ad campaigns.

Audi, for example, noted that a fan posted a tweet with the hashtag “#IWantAnR8”. In response, they brought the fan an R8 to test-drive, and turned the entire experience into a commercial. Instances like this demonstrate that the barrier between advertising channels is blurring every day, and that content is quickly becoming more important than ever.

American Express is also taking advantage of the Twitter multichannel phenomenon with their Sync program, which transforms special Twitter #hashtags into savings for card members. If a U.S. card member is eligible, they can sync their AmEx Card with Twitter, and when they tweet using special offer hashtags, savings are automatically loaded onto the synced Cards, with no coupons or printouts required. In this game-changing example, AmEx is turning Twitter content into commerce by connecting card members directly to merchants and delivering value to both.

Key Takeaways for Marketers
1. Engagement on multiple channels is essential.
Consumers have come to expect a multichannel experience from their marketing. Twitter may not be the first to attempt multichannel marketing, but it’s quickly becoming a bastion for companies that want preference-driven, engagement-rich campaigns.

2. Give people reasons and ways to share.
Giving customers the tools and incentive to share across multiple channels is the perfect way to engage them and enrich their experience. AmEx exemplifies this, giving their customers both value and the means to share that value with others via Twitter.

3. Blur the lines between conversation and marketing.
As we saw in the Audi example, social media marketing can be enhanced by crossing channels and bringing conversations to life for users. It generates positive press, gets people talking, and creates a genuine level of trust between you and your customers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Microtargeting: Great for Obama and Romney, but Good for Consumers?

The Challenge: In the Presidential race, both candidates are sending out highly personalized e-mails to voters, using microtargeting to address individual interests. But what privacy issues does this raise for consumers?

SoLoMoIn a recent study, the Interactive Advertising Bureau stated that the use of microtargeting allows marketers to finally "reach out to prospective [customers] with messaging that addresses each person's specific interests and causes."

With the integration of digital political advertising into political campaigns, it's evident that increasingly accurate microtargeting of messages is being integrated into all levels of the marketing spectrum. Microtargeting makes use of online and offline data to find appropriate targets and generate models to further refine the message. But the sensitive data that makes microtargeting effective is also a cause for alarm among consumer advocates.

As seen with Facebook in our previous article, data is gathered through trackers on websites that consumers visit, and then routed through the databases of the trackers' respective companies. The inherent danger is that marketers or third-party trackers might use voter data for purposes the public never thought of, such as preventing someone from getting a job based on their past political affiliations.

And while microtargeting provides an unprecedented level of personalization for marketers, many consumers do not realize the implications that microtargeting has on their individual privacy. Christopher Calabrese of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) says "Individual[s]…may not be aware that the message they are getting is based on information that has been gleaned about their activities around the Web and is precisely targeted to them."

Key Takeaways for Marketers

1. Create a Reciprocity of Value Equation, (as mentioned in our previous article).
As we've stated previously, consumers are willing to opt-in to share increasingly detailed personal preference information in exchange for marketer's promises to deliver relevant information and offers. If marketers want consumer's trust, they must show good faith by proving them with the choice to opt-in.
2. Establish safeguards to protect personal information.
Marketers must earn the trust that comes with the information they collect about consumers. Clearly communicate which tracking companies appear on your sites, and ensure that each company understands the privacy policies regarding the data that they gather.
3. Consumers should have the ability to opt-out.
As mentioned in our previous article on Google Remarketing, "what some will regard as highly relevant ads, others will see as invasions of their privacy." That's why those marketers using microtargeting as part of their campaigns should take care to be proactive about making the opt-out process easy to perform and understand.