Weird and Wild Holiday Ads from Year’s Past

Weird and Wild Holiday Ads from Year’s Past

Advertising is very unique. It is a mirror that reflects the time, people and the priorities of its age. An ad created for a 1980s audience would have little to no value in today’s marketplace. Its message and those delivering it wouldn’t seem authentic and it wouldn’t reflect the modern zeitgeist. And while great movies created in different eras still feel relevant today you’d be hard pressed to find any advertisement that could make that claim. Not only do most ads from the past feel outdated, some feel so far removed from anything relevant that they seem like they originated from an entirely different world. And in some ways, they did. 

In honor of Thanksgiving we wanted to share a collection of some of our favorite holiday ads from year’s past. 

These ads are certain to leave you entertained, bewildered and perhaps a little confused. 

Enjoy and have a happy and healthy thanksgiving!

Chesterfield Cigarettes and the Gipper

When people say things like, “it was a different time” this is the exactly the kind of thing they’re talking about. Imagining this ad with Bush, Obama or Clinton makes it even more amazing.

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

“Is there anything on your Thanksgiving table that isn’t slathered in delicious, rich Hellmann’s mayonnaise?”

“Possibly the Pecan Pie.”
“Is there any Hellmann’s left? I’d like a dollop of Mayo on my pie. I literally can’t get enough of it.”

Schenley

At first glance that bottle resembles the formerly named Aunt Jemima, which is confusing enough as it is. But then you notice the plane and the schematics and the year and now we’re wondering if this man is supposed to be Vice President Truman?

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise (Again)

Hellmann’s, again making one of the most disgusting and unappealing food advertisements of all time.

Are we to assume that Hellmann’s wants us to purchase their mayonnaise, consume an entire jar, clean the jar and then shove as much cranberry sauce into that jar as possible? And then stick a wick in to that jar full of cranberry sauce and light it? You couldn’t just make an ad with a happy family and delicious side dishes to sell your Mayo, could you?

Zippo Lighters

That dog is going to get lit on fire before the New Year.

Sun Lamps

June’s got an amazing tan and EVERYONE notices. And it’s all thanks to Sun Lamp’s latest product which has certainly gotten the attention of June’s husband and caused her neighbors to become completely unhinged.

Dr. Pepper 

I remember when I was a kid and I was sick. I would stay home from school, curl up on the couch underneath a big blanket and my mom would put a pot of Dr. Pepper on the stove. Steam would squeak free of the pot, mom would pour it in mug and serve it to me, but only after I finished my Twizzler Noodle Soup.

Also, Frosty is a snowman. Hot Dr. Pepper will kill him. Hot Dr. Pepper is so good that Frosty is willing to die for it. Any brand nowadays would kill for that kind of loyalty.

Daisy Rifles

“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid…. and so will mom and dad and grandma and the nice man who fixes our piano.”

Daisy company wants to make sure that everyone in your family is prepared to fend off small rodents.

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Supply Chain Strain – Solutions for your Business 🚚🚢 🎁

Supply Chain Strain – Solutions for your Business 🚚🚢 🎁

We all remember the early days of the pandemic when toilet paper was the scarce commodity, but now the world seems like it is running out of everything from computer chips to ketchup. To make matters worse, an unprecedented labor shortage has left business owners bracing for a holiday season in which demand is likely to overwhelm resources.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that the supply chain disruption plaguing the American economy is not a short-term crisis. While you can’t fix the broken supply chain, you’ll need to steer your business through this crisis and be able to explain delays to your customers when necessary. To do so, it’s important to understand what’s behind any and all supply chain disruptions.

In this blog, we will highlight some of these disruptions and help you be better prepared to keep your business thriving – sometimes without a fair warning.

What is supply chain management?

The supply chain is the journey products take from where they’re mined, grown, or otherwise made all the way to their eventual destinations in the hands of consumers.

Supply chains are made up of so-called “nodes” and “links.” Nodes are stops a material or product makes along the way, like at a factory, port, warehouse, or retail store. A link, on the other hand, is the time material or product spends in transit between nodes—usually on a cargo ship, train, freight aircraft, or semi-truck. If all of that seemed confusing to you then this video might help.

Supply chain disruption root causes:

Shortages for a number of goods have been a hallmark of the pandemic-induced recession and recovery; which is why it is so important, as a business, to understand what is driving these issues and if there is a way for you to fix them. As we look at the causes of supply chain disruptions, we find some intertwined factors leading to the disruptions and delays your company and customers might be experiencing:

  • The pandemic: The pandemic is the overarching reason for supply chain disruptions. Outbreaks and lockdowns limited productivity in factories and the transportation of goods around the world. At the same time, consumer demand for certain products has increased dramatically as many people have more disposable income and spend more time at home.
  • Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing: The JIT manufacturing model serves to meet demand instead of creating a surplus before an item is needed. While it can lead to cost savings and reduced waste, the practice also means manufacturers don’t keep extra supplies on hand. As a result, the delay of a single component can stall an entire production line—such as when, earlier this year, Ford had lots filled with nearly complete trucks awaiting semiconductors.
  • Lack of shipping containers: Increased demand and a limited supply have led to a shipping container shortage and a big jump in associated costs. Partially, this is because PPE supplies were shipped to parts of the world that don’t have many exports, and the containers were left there, sitting empty. The Independent Commodity Intelligence Services reports that it cost $20,000 to ship a 40-foot container from Asia to the U.S. in September 2021, up from $4,500 the previous year.
  • Staffing shortages: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021 and an additional 4.4 million quit in September. If you’re a small business owner, you’ve likely felt the strain yourself—workers are not easy to come by or retain. Notably, there’s been a multi-year shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. Though there’s a massive push underway to recruit truck drivers, people can’t learn to drive 18 wheelers overnight. The same goes for operating a crane, especially when shipping containers are stacked high and accessing the right one means playing a high-stakes game of Jenga. Major ports like the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach will soon be operating 24/7, but that won’t help unclog the traffic jam if the truck driver shortage persists.
  • Overwhelmed docks: Increased activity and worker shortages are also leading to delays at U.S. ports. According to NPR, 52 cargo ships were waiting off the coast of Los Angeles one day in late October. Off the Port of Savannah, The New York Times reported that cargo ships were anchored up to 17 miles off the coast, waiting at times more than 9 days for their turn to dock and unload their shipping containers. While some of these ports are setting records for volume coming in,  it may still take weeks (instead of days) for containers to be picked up by a truck—which only adds to delivery delays and a shortage of available shipping containers

Plan ahead for a brighter future

In some dire or unexpected scenarios, operations may come to a halt, but even in these instances, preparation can make all the difference in how quickly a business can repair supply chain issues. Below are some tactics you can start implementing as early as today:

Create a supply chain emergency plan: Just as it is wise to have a go-bag at home in case of emergency, a family plan in case of fire, and a winter supplies bag in the car for icy situations, it is equally wise to maintain an up-to-date supply chain emergency plan. This can include an emergency budget for use in the face of disruptions alongside plans around how to move goods around, maintain supplies, and continue operations in the face of different types of supply chain problems. 

Build up inventory, when possible: If your business relies heavily on certain inventory to continue operations, consider stockpiling essential supplies so that your business could weather disruption that endures for several months. 

Conduct a supply chain vulnerability audit: Risk analysis is a good way to spot weak links in a supply chain and it is something businesses should engage in seriously and regularly. Armed with information, finding replacements becomes a more straightforward task in terms of priority. 

Identify backup suppliers: This is not always a viable option given where your products are coming from and what they are, but are there other suppliers that could provide the products needed to continue business if a go-to supplier is not able to fulfill supply needs. One important factor to consider when seeking out backup suppliers is their geographic location. For example, if your original supplier is hit with a natural disaster or similar issue, having suppliers who are further away from the event site can help guarantee continued supply.

Diversify supply base: As mentioned above, diversification of suppliers helps mitigate risk just as a diversified investment portfolio does. Geographic diversification is critical, but another important factor to consider is further up the supply chain. Even if three of your suppliers are in different areas, they may share a supplier amongst them which could leave all three in the wake of disruption. Diversify in as many areas as possible and begin to build relationships with these suppliers well ahead of potential disruptions. 

Looking at the bigger picture and not focusing solely on short-term issues, such as meeting the upcoming holiday season demand will help your business in the long run.

Bringing it all together

Although you can prepare on some level, there’s no true silver bullet solution for the supply chain woes. The only thing that fixes this is time. While you might be waiting for the supply chain disruptions to unsnarl and catch up, the name of the game will be survival. This will be especially true during the holiday season when big box stores are likely to have much more inventory than small businesses.  And it means that you will need to get creative, sourcing products and goods locally as often as possible and finding ways to repurpose existing inventory. Customers who care about shopping locally will make every effort to support mom and pop, but it will be vital for small business owners to communicate clearly with their customer base, explaining delays and offering frequent updates.

Need help giving your business every available opportunity to see optimal growth by getting ahead of some of these disruptions as much as you can? Contact one of our experts today.

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Marketing Strategy: How influencers repel customers

Marketing Strategy: How influencers repel customers

Are you scrambling to find influencers for your brand? Are you seeing competitors using bloggers and other content creators to drive social media shares and traffic to their site? And you think “hey if it works for them—it’ll work for me too. Right?”

Not exactly right. 

In this blog post, learn some of the reasons influencers turn off customers, the shifting world of the influencer, and how to spot the right spokesperson to drive sales and crush competition so trust isn’t lost in your brand.

Influencer marketing and the history behind it

Social media is fairly new as a marketing tool, but it’s already seen many trends come and go in its relatively short lifetime. One of the most popular social marketing techniques from the last few years, influencer marketing, is going strong—but it’s also gone through a lot of changes already as brands have experimented with how to best leverage its power. 

Influencer marketing is the latest version of a well-worn tactic: compel the audience to buy through positive word-of-mouth marketing – one of the most powerful sales tactics of all time. The purpose of using an influencer is to help businesses grow brand awareness, build new leads, and convert prospects into customers and it’s expected that by 2022 brands will spend around $15 billion to leverage the power of ready-made audiences with influencer marketing. 

So how did we get here? Where did influencer marketing come from, and how did it start commanding such a huge share of the economy’s marketing dollars? Here’s a quick recap.

But first, what is an influencer?

When it comes to marketing, an influencer is someone who can sway the decisions of potential purchasers. It could be a celebrity, athlete, prominent society figure, a friend whose advice you trust, or in some cases (like the Marlboro Man), a fictional character. Simply put, an influencer has the power to impact the purchase decisions of your customers.

How Influencer Marketing Emerged and Evolved

To find the origins of influencer marketing, you don’t have to look far. Facebook, which is still one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, can claim the roots of influencer marketing, thanks to the analytics and insights it was offering to its customers from the beginning of its advertising program. Data collected from Facebook ad campaigns helped advertisers learn more about what their audiences were looking for. As online advertising grew, though, so did pushback. People began installing ad blockers and backlash against Facebook’s monopoly on digital social media advertising caused shifts in the social media landscape and dropped the effectiveness of traditional ads. As businesses explored new options for advertising – they quickly found the power that peer-to-peer reviews had on brand awareness and sales. People trust their friends and family more than celebrities to give them product recommendations. This is why influencer marketing on a smaller scale is on the rise—it’s just more effective this way if more labor-intensive.

Micro & Nano Influencer Marketing

When influencer marketing was in its infancy, brands typically didn’t bother with accounts that had less than a hundred thousand followers – they either worked with macro or celebrity influencers. These influencers were thought to be the biggest source of ROI since their reach was larger than people with smaller accounts.

Over time, however, brands began to notice something: these macro-influencers and celebrities weren’t necessarily the best source of engagement and ROI. They had larger audiences, but those audiences weren’t necessarily receptive to sponsored posts. Why is this? Consumers, especially the younger generations like millennials and Generation Z, began losing trust in paid influencers and instead began looking to organic grassroots communities where their like-minded peers were sharing content and commentary about brands and products they actually love. From this discovery, the trend of “micro” and “nano” influencer marketing emerged. Brands found that often, smaller audiences were more engaged and trusting. These small influencers were often speaking directly to family and friends, groups with high levels of trust and engagement.  Read more about nano influencers in our blog post, The Rise and Power of Nano Influencers.

To stay on top of these influential generations’ purchasing power, influencer marketing strategies should evolve, not unlike any other marketing strategy. Start looking for more authentic engagement models and influencers that tap the true voice of your consumers to unearth new insights you can use to develop new products and boost engagement and sales; which we will explore in more detail.

Why are consumers losing interest in influencer marketing?

First, to keep things in perspective, we should note that influencers are still very much on the upswing, growing in popularity and gaining more influence over how we shop and buy. But after years of influencers buying fake followers, hiring click farms, and promoting products that they don’t even use, consumers feel that they can’t trust much of what influencers say because it is so easy to see whether an influencer honestly cares about a brand or product or if they are just promoting it for the money. Let’s take a look at some of the underlying reasons for this behavior change.

Saturated or not: Trust in online influencers has been increasingly steady for years now.

According to Google, 70% of YouTube users say they trust the recommendations of their favorite YouTubers above those of celebrities, and Twitter found that their users trust online influencers almost as much as they trust their friends. It’s not all that surprising that we’d eventually reach a limit in how much people are willing to trust influencers. Whether we’ve reached that peak now is difficult to say. But to say we’ve reached a saturation point in how much you are paying attention to social media influencers doesn’t sound like a stretch to us.

Blurred lines between sponsorships and authenticity: The influencer landscape has become increasingly commercialized in recent years to the extent that the lines between sponsorships and authentic recommendations are blurred. And a steady increase of influencer posts that people see on social media is sponsored. While the FTC publishes guidelines for disclosure on such posts, these guidelines are far from perfect and they are sometimes ignored or implemented incorrectly, adding to the confusion. While these guidelines may help, modern buyers are savvy enough to see who is paid for reviews and who is providing an authentic product recommendation. Trust can be quickly lost in your brand if they realize it before you do. 

Your influencer became too large and unreachable: A few years ago, when people followed their favorite fashion blogger on Instagram, they may have enjoyed an intimate, authentic connection with that influencer. Today, that same blogger might have millions of follows and have a staff of 20 people managing their posts, which begin looking more like a celebrity, elevating their content to a place that’s no longer relatable. This in part makes connections no longer close and personal, which can negatively impact your brand.

Your influencer doesn’t align with your brand: Your influencer strategy should align with your customers’ wants and aspirations while also building out your marketing funnel. Choosing an influencer solely on their follower count is no longer enough. Instead, start thinking, ‘how does this influencer fit in with our customer demographic?

Because things are always changing, it is important to keep an eye on this trend, but just remember—trust is key for word-of-mouth marketing, even online.

What can be done to restore trust in the influencers?

Gen Zers and millennials are influenced by authentic content provided by people they trust, and they are looking to members of the small, tight-knit online communities they’re part of for information about products whereas 75% of Generation Xers are influenced by events or people of the past and look towards YouTube for their information. These groups enable them to engage with each other, and with brands and products they love, in a meaningful way, and brands have a great opportunity to build these communities and deepen their relationships with their customers through them.

Rebuilding this trust should be a collaborative effort, involving both the influencer and the brand. Below are some basic guidelines to help identify influencers who are, in fact, real and could potentially help build authentic relationships:

Audit influencers: You should conduct a careful audit of each influencer you’re considering partnering with to avoid using one who is fake who might tarnish your brand reputation instead of helping it. Certain influencer marketing platforms, such as Dealspotr’s Influence Score can help with this research by providing you access to algorithms which filter out false patterns and give you a more realistic score of an influencer’s true reach.

Create long-term relationships instead of one-offs: The most successful influencer relationships should extend beyond a single post, and often involve a long-term ambassadorship where the influencer will continue to mention a brand over an extended period. Establishing these longer-term relationships is an effective way to maximize trust and authenticity in your customers when working with influencers. How do you find the right influencer who will partner with you long-term? Look for your superfans – people who are already telling your brand story online. These “superfans” are creating user-generated content and already sharing it with others in their niche communities across Instagram, Facebook, video game platforms, and dark social channels. Once you find these individuals and understand who their followers are and what demographic they represent (engagement, follower-to-following ratio, geotags, aesthetics, and hashtags) to ensure they have an audience that aligns with yours is when you can start building that authentic and official relationship together.  

Craft partnerships that go beyond monetary compensation: While the norm in the influencer marketing industry these days is to compensate influencers with some form of up-front payment in exchange for a mention or a review, these one-time setups often don’t align well with the interests of brands since the influencers lack an incentive to promote you over the long-term. When you are looking for someone to collaborate with and represent your brand look for an influencer who is doing what they do because they are passionate about it, and less about receiving a paycheck. When this happens, you have a better chance they’ll have a true connection with their fans and thus greater trust and recognition with your brand.

Adhere to FTC guidelines: When you are evaluating or auditing an influencer to collaborate with, you should do a scan of their prior sponsored posts. For instance, have they marked their posts as sponsored? Proper adherence to the FTC’s guidelines is a must, or else the influencer might have already eroded trust with their fans. When it comes to this type of evaluation, we recommend partnering with a marketing firm that has experience in this field, because the rules and regulations could sink a business and it’s not worth the risk when you do it alone.

These are just some of the tips we recommend when looking for influencers who genuinely love your product. By implementing some of them, it will help open up new opportunities for your brand to connect with existing and new customers and build a stronger online presence.

Bringing it all together

Attention for the younger generation and consumers alike is still shifting away from traditional forms of marketing towards digital, mobile, and social, and in this world influencers reign supreme. By investing in relationships with trusted influencers, you have an opportunity to navigate this increasingly complex landscape and increase mindshare by partnering with the leading voices to help build a strong community for your brand.

Are you ready to get invested in trusted relationships with influencers to help showcase your brands’ integrity to customers, and drive more sales? Connect with one of our experts today

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Simple steps today. Better customer relationships tomorrow.

Simple steps today. Better customer relationships tomorrow.

Imagine if you could read the minds of your customers. You’d know exactly what they need to hear or see to make every sale. Theoretically, you could tailor your advertising to their specific needs and your conversions would go through the roof. But when you consider some of your best customers, how do you define them?  For most eCommerce businesses it’s safe to assume that the best customers are the ones who not only champion your brand but who have the highest level of purchases.

In this blog, we will highlight some strategies to incorporate to give your customers something extra to not only set them up for long-term engagement with your brand but long-term sales and value to your overall business.

Build your brand by building your customer base

Once you’ve identified who your customers are, you can begin to intentionally build emotional relationships with them. These relationships go beyond simply making a purchase and have the power to supercharge the valuable interactions they already have with your brand.

Go above and beyond with customer service

To survive in this cut-throat eCommerce environment you have to think out of the box. And, at times, it can be as simple as reflecting on the customer experience you provide.

It’s a big, crowded marketplace out there, full of consumers that want different things at different times via different channels and they all expect access to businesses all the time whether on social media or their website. If you don’t have a direct way for customers to get in contact with you when they need it most, you can’t compete with other companies nor give your customers exactly what they want. For instance, when a client has an issue with your business or an issue with a shipment, they need you to sort it out fast and if you are not available to help them out, you will frustrate the customer or perhaps generate a negative review that is visible to other customers. How do you solve this issue quickly?  A dedicated customer service phone number for your business or a live chat system. Having either or both of these options allows your loyal customers to contact you when they need to do as long as they have a good experience and quick resolution.

Research shows that customers who receive a competent and knowledgeable service are more likely to remember their experience. Even 73% of shoppers say they remain loyal to them because of friendly customer service.

Therefore, it is important to empower your front-line agents so they have the ability to resolve customer issues with ease. With each transfer, subsequent call or email, customers lose patience with your business, resulting in a loss of goodwill. Being consistent with solving customer problems and making yourself available the first customers reach out is a sure-fire way to avoid issues down the line.

Give them something extra

Though we live in a seemingly anonymous culture — where ‘self-service’ is so prevalent — customers increasingly want a personalized experience when it matters most. Remember; everyone likes being recognized, and your customers are no exception. Below are some ways to help your customers feel like you know them on a personal level. 

Personalization is powerful: To prevent “analysis paralysis” caused by the countless options available to your consumers at their fingertips, you should consider implementing personalized solutions and experiences for your customers, such as knowing their name or purchase history to make future buying recommendations. Not only is it important to know your customers’ names when reaching out to them, but it is also important to recognize them on a continual basis to keep the relationship going. For instance, you can offer them a free gift during their birthday month or anniversary.  

Set up a referral program: There are a number of ways you can turn a shopper into a loyal customer.  Throughout the buyer’s journey, you have the opportunity to engage with them one-on-one in a number of different ways, including post-purchase emails and social media.  The most effective way, though, is definitely a rewards program. A rewards program will help you to attract new customers and motivate existing ones to shop with you more often.

Offering either of these options are the types of interactions that will encourage repeat purchase behavior and keep your customers happy.

Tell a story with your brand to connect with customers on a personal level

Storytelling has the incredible ability to connect with your customers on a deeper, emotional level; which figures and stats fall short of doing. And, in the world of marketing, brand storytelling can have a massive impact on your company and the following you receive. 

Getting your story right, however, is going to depend to a large extent on the type of business you run. So much of how you tell your story depends on who your customer is and the message you have to sell them. Do they want to be told the story visually such as through a YouTube video? Or do they prefer written content, punchy infographics, or quirky animations? 

Take this YouTube example from Chipotle Mexican Grill – who we think got it right and then some. Although they are a fast food restaurant, their brand story is all about grasping an emotional connection to their customers and creating a bond that might be hard to break after watching, by sharing the captivating history of their reason for being.

Like the above example, there are certain ingredients that you should have in place if you want to deliver on expectations to your clientele when it comes to your brand story. These include:

  • Knowledge of your audience: The more you know, the more you can tailor your individual messages.
  • Be authentic: Millennials and Generation Z are pretty keyed in to recognize blatant selling and filtering what is useful to them and what isn’t.
  • Create a positioning statement: Once you know who your target audience is you can decide what words and images will resonate with them to help build this out.
  • Be consistent: You need to tell the same story wherever you are. If you start diverging from it, you risk confusing your customer’s emotions or dampening expectations of your brand.

When you stay consistent with your story on who you are and what you represent, you gain the competitive advantage to last longer, grow faster, and drive more revenue. Take note though, that as the times change, so can your story, but be sure you always keep your roots in the ground.

Listen to customer feedback

Listening may seem to be a passive process, but it also leads to active improvements for your business. Listening to customers may be a great way for you to gather enough business-important information. After all, the best business decisions are based on data and not guesses. And customer testimonials are one of the best ways to gather business-specific data that lets you understand how your customers really feel about the product or service you deliver.

Testimonials your customers leave are key content elements because they are unbiased comments that prompt visitors to buy. They help establish credibility and gain trust with your prospects. However, just publishing your customers’ testimonials on your website is not enough to attract more customers. To convert more leads on your website when it comes to testimonials:

  • Make them eye-catching by adding an image
  • Record an in-store video with a customer
  • Tell the truth
  • Use your customer personas
  • Show testimonials everywhere

It is key to use this feedback to guide your business and marketing decisions. By measuring customer satisfaction, you can determine whether you meet, fall short of, or surpass your customer expectations.

Bringing it all together

Knowing what your customers need and want is a competitive advantage and it can determine the customer’s choice of purchasing your services over others. Are you ready to focus on putting your customers first? Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your needs!

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How to Run a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

How to Run a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

SMS Marketing has become an incredibly powerful marketing channel for retailers and it is precisely what it sounds like – a way to connect with customers at every stage of their purchasing journey using text messages.

Retailers can use texting to send customers special promotions, mobile coupons, announce a special or event or simply encourage them to come back to your store. 

In our previous blog, Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing, we addressed some benefits and best practices of SMS marketing for retailers, including how to stay compliant. As a follow-up to that article, we will outline how to run a successful campaign and provide some examples of customer texting done well in this blog.

How to run a successful SMS campaign

Starting an SMS marketing campaign is not just a matter of deciding you want to get into this type of marketing. These campaigns require thought and attention to yield amazing results. Follow these best practices to get the most out of your next SMS marketing campaign to boost sales.

  • Get permission: Encourage people to sign up for your campaign with reminder prompts, just ensure you ask for permission separately from email marketing requests.
  • Keep it to the point: All of your SMS messages should stay under 160 characters as additional characters will be automatically cut off. Try AB testing to find the right mix of messaging and see what works best for your audience, but be concise. For example, do your customers like emojis, or do they find them annoying? Do they respond well when you include their first name? If so, try pairing personalization with a unique offer linked to a landing page and see if your conversion rates increase. If on the other hand, you do not see conversion rates increase, try another format until you get it right.
  • Start a drip campaign: Drip campaigns are a form of marketing automation where pre-made messages are fired at specific customers when they meet your defined parameters. For example, if a customer has been subscribed to you for six months, an automated message with a special deal could be used to reward them. These types of campaigns are simple to set up and require almost no ongoing maintenance, so it’s a great way to bring automation into your business and a first step at creating a good customer experience for your customers.
  • Get a short code for mass text messaging campaigns.
  • Stay professional, respectful, clear, and on-brand.
  • Make it clear exactly how your shoppers can benefit from your offer.

How to stay compliant

Once you tackle getting your SMS marketing automation in place and building up your list of subscribers you can start to focus on the type of campaigns you want to run. Below are a few common SMS campaigns to get you started.

Welcome your newest shoppers with a quick text. Typically, these should also include a promotion or coupon intended to encourage the shopper to return soon.

Customer service follow-up: this might be the safest and most direct way to integrate SMS marketing into your plans. It gives you the chance to check in on a recent experience or purchase to see how the customer is doing while also providing them the space to address any issues that they may have with a purchase before they take it to a review site or simply abandon shopping with you altogether. It also gives your customers the chance to select if they would like to receive SMS updates on their order once completed. When customers opt-in to receive fulfillment text messages, you can continue to upsell to boost conversions and bring in more sales, just keep it consistent and do not overdo it.

Product updates: Send shoppers updates about your most popular products or new items you have in stock. Add some urgency and combine these with promotions.

Loyalty notifications: Merge your SMS marketing with your loyalty program. This gives you the ability to notify shoppers when they earn points, redeem points, or provide exclusive benefits like flash sales, member-only events, and special offers. It also creates a sense of belonging and special treatment which means subscribers are more likely to come back to your store and make a purchase.

Personalized notes: Your SMS marketing campaign can also nurture existing client relationships by offering your shoppers personalized notes about birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Bringing it all together

If you are looking to expand your market share while also offering your customers a faster and more secure way to receive updates about your products and events immediately, SMS marketing could be the answer you are looking for.

Keeping up-to-date with this trend will help you to adapt your eCommerce strategy quickly and get ahead of the competition. Ready to take the next step to grow your business efficiently and cost-effectively? Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your needs!

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Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing

Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing

It’s no secret that developing relationships with your customers takes a lot of work. If you want to reach them, you can’t simply just wait for them to come to you – you have to be proactive and go where they are. We are not suggesting that you start going door to door to all of your prospective customers – that would be madness, but you could implement the next best marketing tactic out there – send them a text.

Whether you own a clothing business, a small boutique, or sell products of any kind, sending your customers a text through SMS marketing is a great way to attract and connect with customers while standing out from your competition. The one thing to keep in mind though is not to overdo it. And you must ensure to strike the right balance and tone of voice when sending prospects a text.

In this blog, we will outline the benefits and best practices of SMS marketing for retailers, including how to stay compliant with examples of customer texting done well.

What is SMS marketing?

Short Message Service (SMS) Marketing uses permission-based mass text for promotional campaigns or transactional messages. These messages are designed to communicate time-sensitive offers, updates, and alerts to existing and potential customers, locally and internationally, who have consented to receive these messages from your business. These messages appear on your customers’ phones within seconds. Depending on the user’s mobile phone settings, they may receive a push notification as soon as your message is delivered. 

It is important to note that there are different types of SMS marketing that retailers can consider. These include mass texting for campaigns and transactional texting.

  • Campaign SMS – focus on reaching a mass audience with a single message. They come in the form of promotions, updates, alerts, coupons, tickets, surveys, polls, event invitations, and so on. These are a staple in mobile advertising
  • Transactional SMS –  “one-to-one” messages that are triggered by a certain event or behavior from your customer. An example of this would be an order confirmation or shipping notification for a purchase on your website and/or to communicate relevant and timely information to an individual.

How to stay compliant

It can be frustrating for businesses and marketers alike to spend time and effort collecting cell phone numbers with the hopes of sending them text messages only to find out that the way they went about collecting their data is not ‘carrier compliant’ or compliant with the new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines.

Why is it so important for retailers to remain compliant? Because breaking the rules can cost you up to $1,500 a message. This is one of the main reasons a lot of business owners have shied away from SMS marketing and although SMS does perhaps seem more intrusive than other common marketing channels, it’s no more regulated or difficult to navigate or comply with. Still, there are certain laws and regulations that businesses must follow to avoid costly fines and penalties. Let’s outline some of them below: 

Make sure your contacts have opted in to SMS: receiving permission from your contacts to send them SMS messages is the most important rule to remember. SMS has an extremely high open rate, but this won’t help you if you’re sending messages to people who don’t want them or who have never asked for them. And it’s important to note that consumers have to opt-in to SMS separately from email subscriptions.  So, you should always  try to get email addresses when asking customers for phone numbers for SMS. This way, if they unsubscribe from text messages, you’ll still be able to communicate with them via email campaigns. 

Be mindful of the timing of your messages: Unlike email, which is only checked a few times daily (at most), people open text messages almost immediately. This is great for urgent messages, such as tracking information about a customer’s order or a limited-time offer that expires soon, but you don’t want to abuse this power by disturbing contacts at odd hours in the day. For instance, is your customer running out to use a coupon that just woke them up at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday? Most likely not. In fact, this would not only get you removed from a prospect’s ‘mailing list’, but it would also likely earn you a very unpleasant communication from an unhappy person. In addition, if your business is international in its scope, some countries have laws about when you can send marketing text messages (e.g. France does not allow SMS marketing on Sundays, holidays, or anytime after 10 PM) and the United States does not allow texts between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in the recipients’ time zone as they are considered “quiet hours.”

Include your company’s name in your SMS: When sending bulk SMS messages, most providers send them through a shortcode, which means your contacts won’t know it is coming from you. Therefore, it is important to not only mention your company but to explain to your customers what types of messages they will receive and give them an option to opt-out, if they choose to do so. 

Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to not only fines, as mentioned above, but consumer complaints and messages getting flagged as spam. Telecom companies can also audit you or cut off your messaging campaigns entirely. 

The benefits of incorporating SMS marketing into your business plans

Using text marketing has many benefits as it allows you to reach your audience via a device they are already using rather than making them go outside their comfort zone to read a billboard, poster, or even email. Here are some benefits of SMS marketing to consider:

  • Provide best-in-class customer service: retailers can use SMS to respond to customer service questions to drive more revenue. Many apps can be integrated into your campaign to assist with this, such as WeSupplyLabs and DotDigital, to not only help improve your workflow but also form a two-way conversation with your customers to make the return or order tracking process easy and build brand loyalty if the experience is effortless for them.
  • Enter an unsaturated market: According to MobileMonkey, about 61% of marketers still don’t use SMS as a form of marketing, so being an early adopter can help you gain a competitive advantage in customer service and engagement.
  • Increase your open rates:  This is one of the key benefits of text marketing. Compared to other digital marketing techniques like email newsletters, SMS offers have a much higher open rate. For instance, SMS open rates are 98% when compared to 20% for email, at best. And unlike email campaigns, SMS messages have zero bounces because even when a user’s mobile phone is turned off, they’ll still receive your text.
  • Lower your advertising budget: Traditional forms of advertising like print ads, TV and radio tend to be expensive and their effectiveness is difficult to quantify as there is no way to truly pull statistics. SMS marketing is less expensive and offers full reporting capabilities to understand click-through rates, conversion rates, and more.
  • Segmentation made easy: An SMS campaign needs to have its target audience. Therefore, to get the proper demographics, businesses perform market segmentation which increases the effectiveness of each of their campaigns. Proper targeting and segmentation also ensure that you are sending tailored messages to the right recipients. Five segmentation categories you can consider include location, customer behavior, SMS engagement, order information, and customer attributes. Analyzing this information can help inform you what and when to send your customers text messages.
  • Complements Other Marketing Channels: SMS isn’t meant to replace all other marketing efforts – it’s the perfect companion to other marketing channels, especially for updates post-sale.
  • Meet newer generations where they are at: A large demographic of consumers have abandoned email and have turned to text messages. Show your client list that you are keeping up with the technology by sending targeted promotions via text. It will give your company a head start in winning the battle for the next generation of shoppers. This can be a great strategy for smaller businesses that are looking to create a buzz locally.

Bringing it all together

Check back for Part II where we will dive deeper on how to build a successful SMS campaign with plenty of examples.

If you’re interested in making the most of your marketing efforts and expanding with new opportunities hit the link below and contact us today.

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Video Case Study: Automotive Aftermarket

Video Case Study: Automotive Aftermarket

Our automotive client’s original Volusion website was showing its age, lacking in mobile-friendly responsiveness, limited design and functionality. The client tasked InteractOne with migrating their Volusion site to Magento 2. This migration included a new responsive design with custom development of a vehicle parts lookup (year, make, model) and lighting application guide, including the ability to save a vehicle in account information. In this Case Study video we’ll be taking a deeper look at the features and functionality the InteractOne team brought to the client’s webstore and how they create a greater Customer Experience that keeps visitors engaged and shopping.

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Building a successful holiday pop-up shop 🎄💰

Building a successful holiday pop-up shop 🎄💰

If you’re cursing yourself for not planning something sooner, don’t give up just yet—there’s still plenty of time to pull off an unforgettable seasonal retail experience by hosting a pop-up store. For those retailers who might be skeptical about opening a holiday pop-up store as they see it as an unnecessary cost, some see it as an opportunity to increase their bottom line with limited resources. 

According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can account for as much as 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. While some consumers may roll their eyes at the holiday season-themed products lining retailers’ shelves as early as late August, the practice of setting up shop early is a great practice to put into place. 

We believe that low-budget, short-term, quick-install pop-ups are set to surge in the coming months. To help you plan, in this blog we will take a look at the pop-up shop, from cost to marketing strategies. Plus, we’ll share examples of brands leading the charge in trending pop-up experiences in a post-pandemic world.

What is a holiday pop-up shop?

Holiday pop-ups provide an ideal opportunity for digitally native brands or companies considering a new location. They can look like a regular store, however, many brands use them to create a unique, engaging physical shopping experience. They can also appear just about anywhere – at a holiday or farmers market, in a local shopping mall, within another retail business’ brick and mortar location, or even as a mobile setting, like a food truck. And they don’t necessarily have to sell traditional products either. A pop-up can sell food, drinks, services, even hospitality like Taco Bell has done in previous years. They’re typically put up as a way to test out a new idea or location, or generate buzz for a business with customers in real-time during the busy holiday shopping months. 

Hosting a holiday pop-up shop is also a great way to penetrate a new market or neighborhood where your target market lives or hangs out while keeping your costs down. Plus, you get the chance to introduce your brand to more people, which, in turn, builds brand awareness that extends well beyond the holidays. In fact, research from Business Insider shows that pop-up shops have historically helped retailers improve market visibility by 51% and increase sales by almost 50%. 

There are a lot of great pop-up examples. Here are a few notable companies that have found success hosting a pop-up shop. ​​Taylor Morgan, a California-based jewelry brand, hosted a pop-up at a local West Elm store to help its products reach new potential customers.

eBay has utilized a pop-up model to bring certain products to consumers in a retail setting during the holiday shopping season.

Birchbox, the popular beauty subscription box, offered a special line of gifts for men, via a holiday pop-up shop in New York.

American Girl only has a few store locations around the country. So to bring its products to even more customers, it sets up temporary mall locations periodically, especially around the holidays to increase sales and reach a wider audience.

Reasons to open or not to open a holiday pop-up shop:

Opening up a holiday pop-up shop is your opportunity to get your products in front of more consumers who are actively buying. Even when you close your temporary location, past customers will remember your brand and as long as they have a good experience are more than likely to visit your permanent store or website. Some other reasons why hosting a pop-up this holiday might be the right move for you include: 

Test a new stream of revenue: Perhaps you want to expand but are hesitant to commit to leasing a new storefront. Your pop-up can be the tactic used to gauge the demand for your products in a particular location. Depending on sales volume, once you close up shop you can begin to determine if opening a permanent store is a sound investment or if you need to revisit the drawing board. 

Test a new product: If you are considering launching a new product line, approach your pop-up as a chance to collect real-time feedback and other valuable insights into how your product and your marketing efforts perform with customers in the wild. A pop-up store is also particularly helpful if you want to test out the waters in a new market or gauge reactions to a product before investing more resources.

Boost sales and gain an uptick in customer traffic: Perhaps the most enticing reason to consider a holiday pop-up shop is to increase sales. The temporary get-it-before-it’s-gone state of pop-ups naturally creates a sense of urgency amongst shoppers. To create this sense of urgency, let your customers know when your pop-up begins and ends as well as letting them know there is limited inventory and once you’re out, you close up shop. Not only will consumers feel compelled to buy before your shop is gone forever, but they’re also more likely to have a deadline of their own urging them to buy now. 

Liquidate inventory: Most retailers do not want to begin the new year with a surplus of seasonal items or outdated inventory as the deadstock can add to your operating expenses and crowd storage rooms. Use your holiday pop-up shop as a chance to sell your products at a discounted price, such as out-of-season items or older models.

Test new marketing promotional strategies: ‘Tis the season for sales. The holidays are an excellent time to take new promotional strategies out for a spin and see how they drive. For instance, try discounting a product for a limited time, offer a flash sale for users who post about your brand on social media, or bundle your merchandise together to evoke a perceived higher value at a lower cost. Many omnichannel retailers also offer an exclusive discount that shoppers can use online, which creates an incentive for them to engage with your brand after your pop-up store closes.

The work doesn’t stop once you close the doors on your holiday pop-up. Not only is it important to analyze your sales performance on the overall success of your pop-up, it is also important to get feedback from your customers to help you plan better moving forward.

Where to start:

If you want to capitalize on the surge in demand the holiday shopping brings, now’s the time to start. Here are some useful tips to get you up and running. 

Find the right location: In order to host a holiday pop-up, you need a space. Without physical space, you can’t do much. Start by familiarizing yourself with the spaces available to you, such as a kiosk at the mall, a local farmer’s market, a mobile truck, or working on a partnership with another local business that has a brick and mortar so you can act on a pop-up opportunity as soon as it comes available. Also, don’t forget about unconventional spaces — like an empty room of an old factory building — and be open to the potential of an otherwise hidden gem just waiting to be filled with your brand fans. Once a space becomes available whether doing it on your own or partnering with another business – book it because every other decision you need to make about your pop-up will be informed by the space from the location to the size, capacity, and even the price.

Decide how you want to market your pop-up: Once you decide on your location, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to market to existing and prospective customers. Some ideas to help get you started are: spreading the word on social media, teaming up with other local brands by collaborating on discounts and promotions to cross-pollinate each other’s audiences, partnering with local news outlets, put up a catchy sidewalk sign, ask brand loyalists or local influencers to get involved to help build trust with your brand and send a newsletter or SMS to customers you have emails and phone numbers for. 

Focus on a small inventory to sell and how to lay it out/design: The PopUp Republic found that 61% of shoppers visit pop-up shops in the mall for seasonal items during the holidays. Even if you don’t sell common items like wreaths, cookies, or other themed goods, you can still join in on the seasonal rush of sales and implement a limited selection of holiday-themed items customers will want to buy. Consider bundling the products that best represent your brand into baskets or packages making it easy for shoppers to imagine themselves giving them as a gift. For instance, if you sell nostalgia gifts and you notice your puzzles are flying off the shelves and your stuffed animals are still sitting there, pair them together as a set at a lower price. Through these bundles, you can sell every day, as well as out-of-season items, that might not sell as well individually.

Another thing to consider when deciding what inventory to sell at your pop-up shop is the cost associated with the products. If you’re eager to reach the most customers and spread awareness about your brand—and clear out your seasonal inventory—choose products to sell at affordable price points that spark impulse buying. For instance, if you are selling wreaths, you want to tap into the urgency that the holiday shopping season brings and convert browsers into buyers by giving them a reason to pick your wreath over one they can buy from a big-box retailer like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. One avenue to consider is to incorporate a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) promotion where you throw in a lower-priced item as a gift with a purchase to make a higher-priced product a little more attractive.

Set a budget and stick with it: If you have a business that is already operational, this might be the easiest task yet to get started. Planning your budget for a holiday pop-up shop is no different than any financial decisions you make for the sake of your company. Some things you need to consider include:

  • Cost of renting a space, utilities, furniture, lighting, and product displays
  • Merchandising, such as tablecloths and signage
  • Cost of inventory
  • Marketing and promotions
  • Checkout, including point of sales and credit card fees
  • Insurance, depending on the size of your pop-up shop and how long it’s running

Set the experience: According to Bazaarvoice, Inc., 42% of consumers choose to shop at stores that have festive environments so take this as your opportunity to get shoppers into the holiday spirit by creating a fun-filled experience at your holiday pop-up. Fun decorating ideas for your store might include:

  • Setting up holiday-related decorations: Choose a corner of your pop-up to display a Christmas or Kwanzaa cherry tree, presents, kinara, or menorah. You can even put your own products under the tree to show customers how they will look as gifts! 
  • Hanging lights and snowflakes: No matter where your store is located, create a winter wonderland that immerses customers in the holiday season.
  • Covering the ground and shelves in fake snow: If you only want to add a light touch to your store, white stuffing and glitter can help set the mood.
  • Make sure you aren’t just representing Christmas, but all holidays with your decorations.

Once your decorations are in place, choose a festive playlist to inspire shoppers. Research shows that music can affect shopping behaviors, specifically how long guests stay at your store and how much they spend. If you want to make more sales, don’t play your music too loud and choose stores that have a slower tempo. Chanel is a great example of someone who has set a customer experience and then some. Every year from December 12-15, they create a stylish, festive winter wonderland within New York City’s Standard Hotel, dubbing its pop-up shop, “Chanel No.5 in the Snow.” Open to the public, anyone who visits the pop-up shop can enjoy ice skating, hot cocoa, delicious food, and the chance to fully immerse themselves in a beautiful setting fit for their latest social media post.

Remember, this is a temporary store. So, to alleviate the headache of having to find storage space once you close up your holiday pop-up shop, rent any furniture and displays you might need instead of buying them outright. Also, be cognizant of space and keep things simple. For instance, if you do not have much room to work with you don’t want to overcrowd the space with large displays or tons of products which might just overwhelm your customers or only allow a few in the store at a set time. Try to use items that can serve two purposes, such as bookshelves that are aesthetically pleasing and can hold small items for sale. 

For more tips on setting the experience for your holiday pop-up shop check out this visual merchandising guide to encourage your customers to interact with your products and maximize sales.

Bringing it all together

Interested in testing out a retail presence for your business, or are you interested in additional revenue streams? Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your needs further!

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Apple’s iOS15: One person’s privacy is another’s marketing strategy.

Apple’s iOS15: One person’s privacy is another’s marketing strategy.

Apple’s iOS15 Update: One man’s privacy is another’s marketing strategy.

That’s a cold, hard fact in the digital age for those engaging in eCommerce. Tracking, the electronic following of activity by those who have engaged with your brand, has become such a norm in how commercial ecommerce activity operates that companies hardly bat an eye over engaging in it at this point.

But privacy concerns for users are real, and Apple is about to strike a blow in how business is done that could change the marketing landscape in a major way.

Apple’s new releases this fall on its Mail app on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey devices will offer a Mail Privacy Function. According to a recent report 13.3% of respondents said they used the Mail app to open and read their personal emails. With a flip of a switch, tracking the activity of these users without their permission becomes virtually impossible. As they so often do, Apple has highlighted their commitment to innovation in this area with a humorous and engaging commercial. The introduction of such functionality could be the most substantive move yet in giving consumers control over who collects their data, but it surely won’t be the last.

Let’s look at what is ahead with these changes and what strategies you can consider for your eCommerce marketing so you can adapt.

Anti-Tracking and iOS15

A bedrock tool in digital marketing that involves tracking is the inclusion of an invisible pixel in email that is accessed by consumers. With the Mail Privacy Function in iOS15, those who open emails will determine whether that tracking data should be shared back to the source. Information like whether you opened an email, how many times it was viewed and if it was forwarded will no longer be available from any readers who choose to block them.

The Mail Privacy Function also will block the email receiver’s IP address, so digital marketing strategies that rely on mining information that way to discern the user’s location and online activities are also going to be shut out.

Another Apple innovation that is going to throw a wrinkle into established marketing tactics is an option known as Hide My Email. Users will have the capability to have Apple create an artificially-generated email address when they do things like make a purchase. That new email address will then forward to the user’s actual email, keeping knowledge of that email address away from eCommerce companies and others who would want to use it for marketing purposes.

Measures such as these that are coming with iOS15 are going to require an adjustment in tactics for those who have built their marketing around gathering intelligence about customers through these channels.

Preparing for Change

So, with these changes in the offing, what can you do to keep your eCommerce marketing efforts moving forward? A great place to start is making sure your fundamentals are in order so that you aren’t causing yourself difficulties in places that ought to still be strengths. It’s unlikely  that there will be a magic bullet approach for dealing with the changes that Apple is introducing into the market.

One good thing you can do immediately is making sure your email lists are as clean as you can make them. Don’t clutter your marketing efforts by allowing bad information in from the start. You want your marketing hitting with people who already are customers or who have shown very strong signs that they could be customers.

Another route you can take to strengthen your marketing results is moving from an approach  less reliant on email tracking to one with a more engaged approach. If you aren’t already doing it, try introducing pop-up windows on your site for visitors who may be willing to share their information because they are finding your product offerings and/or blog/articles content attractive to their desires. This kind of first-level information is always going to be better than the results you see from a tactic like tracking because you will know the user is open to receiving information and updates from you. You also have some advantage that can be used in setting up effective pop-ups in that you know what channel has brought the visitor to your site in the first place. Use that information to inform the tone and character of the pop-up you are asking the visitor to respond to.

How closely are you looking at how you communicate with your customers? People are savvy enough to know when they are being targeted by mass marketing, and are less likely to respond. By improved analysis of your market segmentation, you can create messaging that feels more personal to the target, thus increasing the chances they will be willing to respond. Apple’s efforts are meant to cut out involuntary marketing activity that potential customers are being subjected to. A great counter-strategy for you to consider in light of this is using what you do know about proven customers to create messaging to which you strongly believe they are going to be receptive.

Additional Steps to Try

The changes from iOS15 will have impacts on how you market beyond what is first apparent when you initially think about this subject. Consider, for instance, your email funnels. These funnels operate on a series of interrelated decisions involving the monitoring of how targets are responding to previous emails. If Apple’s new tactics are telling you that a prospect isn’t engaged with one of your emails when in fact the opposite is true, that is going to throw a major wrench in how your email funnel is supposed to work.

If your marketing falls utilizes these techniques, you are going to need to consider reconstructing the rules that your email funnels use for their internal decision-making.

Related to this type of approach, the need to rely more heavily than ever on testing is made apparent by this change in the market. Even with these new developments you are not going to abandon email marketing at this point. Even if Apple’s tactics are taking a segment of your customers out of the data you are making evaluations from when you test subject lines or send times, you are still going to see valid results from trends in the market overall from non-Apple users and those Apple users who aren’t using the new privacy software.

Your overall open rates and other metrics may go down from an impact from these new factors, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still effectively identify those email marketing practices that are performing best for your business, and that is still important information to operate from in figuring out your best strategies.

Conclusion

Users like the idea of having their data protected. Apple isn’t the only company working to roll out solutions on this front. Staying on top of these developments will require diligence.

What goes on in this space of the marketing world is a conversation that is just taking off. It’s going to be worthwhile for you as an eCommerce provider to stay on top of this topic and adjust accordingly, as it has the potential to significantly impact future business results.

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Harmonic Convergence: Creating Customer Bliss Through The Perfect Giveaway

Harmonic Convergence: Creating Customer Bliss Through The Perfect Giveaway

Successful growth in eCommerce is an art form.

Doubt it? You can find thousands of sites out there that are perfectly competent when it comes to what they sell and how they operate, but they fail to find the magic key that opens the door to sales success.

The difference, in many cases, comes down to failing to capture the imagination of would-be customers. Building a brand comes by making an impression. One approach that has helped many brands get past this challenge is the use of viral giveaway campaigns.

A viral giveaway campaign is when a brand uses its social platforms to, well, giveaway a promotional item to select participants, often  requiring social engagement and/or a participants contact information. You know those fishbowls at checkout counters that collect business cards for a free item? It’s a digital version of that. Viral giveaway campaigns can do wonders for building your customer list — if they are executed in a smart and disciplined way. Outgrow reports on a number of impressive results tied to these campaigns in 2021 alone, such as promotions that cost just 18 cents per click, contestants spending 2 minutes plus on the contest app and more than 62% sharing the contest with at least one friend.

That all sounds great, but viral giveaways have been around for a few years now, meaning there’s enough known to show there are right ways and wrong ways to go about this process. In the rest of this blog, we’ll explore what has been learned.

Building Brand Through Giveaways

The operational pieces in creating a successful viral giveaway campaign should be built on two principles:

  1. Make participation for the customer as simple as possible
  2. Make desirability of the contest align with the customers you are seeking

No matter how compelling your offer, it is always going to have to compete in a marketplace teeming with content vying for people’s attention. Once you are fortunate enough to grab that interest, you need to make action steps as simple as possible, and the benefit those actions could lead to as desirable as possible.

Giveaways can take many different forms. For the vast majority of eCommerce sites, the scope of viral giveaway you will be considering will be modest. The total value of prizes being offered could be in the range of $1,000 or less. Even at that level, you can still produce great returns from your campaign in terms of growing your customer base. Key factors which will play into the chances for success are if the promotion of the giveaway is creatively appealing (i.e. not the “same old same old” that every other contest is pushing), if it has elements which make it fun to participate in and if the appeal of the giveaway is genuine enough that people will feel good about sharing it with their friends. You want your giveaway promotions to be easily shareable.

The site Startup Bonsai offers a very good observation that you should keep in mind as you conceive of how your viral giveaway could work: People don’t necessarily like buying from brands, they like buying from personal recommendations. That is a key part of the appeal to consider in how you can make your giveaway a viral experience.

If your giveaway has a gamification aspect — that is, people’s participation is incentivized so their chances of winning grow by becoming more involved in the giveaway — you may consider creating a social share site for users. They can track their progress and see how they are faring as they pursue rewards that are part of the giveaway.

Another aspect that has proven value as viral giveaway strategies have matured is the use of a deadline element to drive participant action. You can keep prospective customers thinking about your brand longer if the appeal of the giveaway offer has hit home with them, but they also know that they only have a limited amount of time to act.

One other good point to keep in mind — don’t think just because your viral giveaway is designed for your social channels that you shouldn’t also be supporting it through your more conventional assets. Promote the giveaway through your email contact with existing customers — it still produces the best percentage in response rates of any outreach. You also need to consider the best ways to promote the giveaway to visitors landing at your site. A pop-up welcome mat message is a tactic that many companies use.

Tips for Deciding on the Right Offer

A successful viral giveaway will have at its heart an intriguing prize offer. Deciphering what this will be for your giveaway is a true make-or-break decision in how you will succeed in connecting with the customers you most desire.

Designing a giveaway is really an opportunity to demonstrate to  targeted customers that you understand what they are looking for. This is how brands connect with customers. From your perspective, it is a prime opportunity to identify interested potential customers that you know will have a specific area of interest that could be developed into a buying opportunity. From the customer’s perspective yours is a fresh voice whose potential lies in offering a product that will solve their problems in a responsible way.

An important point to consider as you think about how your viral giveaway will be structured is that the contest is not necessarily limited to only what you offer. Exciting and creative offerings often come in the form of a package of products centered around a theme. Think in terms of partners who offer related products to what you sell. You may already have existing relationships with some of those brands, or it could be a matter of reaching out to a company that you feel has this element of commonality.

It can also pay to think creatively when envisioning partnership possibilities. These case studies can give you some ideas on just how effective thinking creatively can be in generating exceptional amounts of response to your campaign.

Along with who else you might try and partner with, you are also going to have to make some decisions about what social channels are right for your offer. Here’s an article and accompanying infographic that gives you an overview of how other companies are deploying viral giveaway techniques as they go down this same road.

Do Something With the Data

Once you reach the end of your viral giveaway, you are going to be sitting on a pile of results generated by the contest. Don’t just assume all of it is equal. Contests are going to produce returns that are mixed in quality. You’ll need to take the right steps to make sure you are getting out of the process what you hoped for going in when it comes to adding on to your customer base.

Screening for returns with fake data, such as a bogus email address, will be a must. Plenty of guidance is out there already in terms of best practices for eCommerce merchants to make sure they are dealing with actual verifiable customers. You also will want a screening process in place to make sure you are not just adding duplicate emails that are already in your database. Applying the same kind of guidelines you use for keeping your existing list healthy makes sense for the new data churned up by your viral giveaway.

A few final points for closing the loop when it comes to your contest is following up with offers of discounts and other benefits to those new potential customers you’ve just gained. You know something specific now about where their interests may be directed. For instance, one of our favorite formats we’ve seen for viral giveaways is known as the wish list format — that is creating a contest where those who enter will be choosing among a series of products to tell you exactly what they are most interested in. That’s the kind of opening you were hoping for when you started down the road of creating a giveaway. Be active, be persistent and be creative in trying to court these new potential sources of business. 

Just like all endeavors you need to protect your company from any legal issues when running a viral contest campaign. There is a lot of grey area and you need to make sure that any contest you host isn’t going to put you in the crosshairs of any regulatory group. We recommend working with a legal or marketing company that has familiarity with this world and can best set you up for success long-term. 

Viral giveaways are a path for creating new business that go hand-in-hand with eCommerce. People who are seeing your offer are already engaged in accessing that information through some kind of electronic device. They are in your realm. Come up with a great offer with true appeal for them, and the returns could be just the catalyst that drives your sales results to the next level.

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