Clicks to Bricks: Rebirth of Retail in 2022

Clicks to Bricks: Rebirth of Retail in 2022

Everything old is new again. That saying is true in fashion, in politics and even in the retail industry. 10 years ago, and even just a few years ago, it was much more affordable and strategically viable to connect with customers online, rather than opening a traditional brick-and-mortar retail location. But with rising digital advertising spends companies are seeing the Customer Acquisition Cost increase and spiral out of control. It’s pricey to acquire new online customers. So pricey that brands are looking to get back into the physical space and it’s a trend that’s already starting to happen. 

According to Forrester Consulting on behalf of Spotify 32% of brands said they’ll be establishing or expanding their pop-up and retail experiences in 2022. 31% of brands said they’d be expanding their physical retail store footprint this coming year as well. 

In this blog we’ll break down why brands are returning to retail space, analyze the ‘clicks to bricks’ strategy and see if retail is right for you.

Clicks to Bricks?

Clicks to bricks is the strategy of driving online shoppers toward your physical retail space. Simple, no? It’s a sales funnel/user journey that begins online and ends in-store. Brands allow shoppers the option of browsing an online catalog and purchasing or picking-up the item at your retail location. Combining both digital and physical retail gives retailers the best of both worlds while offering customers multiple ways to shop, based on their own preferences. It is estimated that eCommerce takes about 21% of all retail sales, so going retail-only isn’t advisable either. Clicks to Bricks is gaining in popularity because of the flexibility it offers customers and the impact it has on a brand’s bottom line.

The benefits of a clicks to bricks strategy

Customer acquisition costs (CAC) are rising, and fast. You’re not the only company in the world trying to grow their digital presence, space and revenue. As more and more businesses enter and expand in the digital space the cost of getting yourself in front of customers only increases. Simply put there are now more businesses vying to fill up and exploit the already-limited digital advertising channels. But as Google is charging more and more for ad space on their platform, retail rent is remaining steady, and in many parts of the country, available at a dramatic discount. (Retail rent can and should be included in your CAC.

Your online store opens up your customer base to potentially a worldwide audience, but many customers still enjoy and prefer the simple act of visiting a store. This is especially true for clothing and fashion retailers. No matter how flexible and easy a clothing retailer’s digital return policy is, it will never replace the physical act of trying on the clothes yourself, making sure it fits just right or confirming that it does not. Having a local brick and mortar location is still a good thing. According to the Forrester Consulting study, partnering with Shopify, nearly half (47%) of customers said that a local presence was a ‘significant’ or ‘very significant’ influence on which brands they have chosen in the last 12 months.

Clicks to Bricks Challenges

Of course there are risks involved with opening and maintaining your brick and mortar location. Let’s take a look at a few:

Hiring and retaining employees – As if it’s not enough to worry about your retail space, your POS system, your inventory,  maintenance and overhead but you also have to worry about employees. In any brick and mortar location they are going to be the living embodiment of your brand and the first interaction many customers will have with you. Not only do they need to be competent in their jobs and interact well with customers, they also need to actively champion and embody your brand’s values. This is easier said than done even with years of retail experience across multiple franchises. 

Brand Consistency – For a brand moving from the digital space to a physical retail space you will need to take the digital culture you have built and manifest it into the real world. For any digital brand, customers must feel that your retail space is your digital brand, manifest into reality. That applies to your products, store layout and even your employees. If your website and brand are more on the serious side, then your physical space needs to reflect that in its design and layout. While a more ‘lighthearted’ product or brand can afford to have a more playful and bright retail layout. The most important thing to know is your brand identity. Without that, you can’t begin to manifest correctly in the real world.

Omnichannel inventory management

Just a short time ago we dedicated a few blogs to the applications and extensions that are currently available to build and maintain a better Onmichannel system. To learn more about which extensions our expert Development team works with and recommends check out the blog, “How to Integrate Omnichannel Management in Your Magento Site”. While the blog title may be seasonal there are extensions and inventory management tactics that are evergreen in our blog, “Building a successful holiday pop-up shop”.

Who is doing it right?

Casper Mattress is an excellent case study for retail success. The mattress store started off as online-only. But, like many products, there is no digital substitute for actually trying it out for yourself and feeling the bed underneath you. You can’t lay on a mattress that’s on your desktop screen. 

Casper is the go-to case study for direct-to-consumer business owners. 

“Customers are going to do their own research,” said CEO Philip Krim. “They’re walking into stores to aid their education. Oftentimes those are happening at the same time. People are on their phones reading about products while looking at them on the shelves.”

While incorporating a physical retail space into their business model, Casper now boasted multiple touchpoints and the capability to engage with customers in their preferred manner, whether that all-online, all- in-person, or some combination. They embraced a strategy that was ‘channel-agnostic’ and embraced the retail portion of their business model. In a relatively short amount of time Casper has now expanded to more than 70 retail stores across the country and experiential retail now plays a huge role in their stores and strategy. 

Philip says. “We’re just as happy if you buy Casper products through one of our retail partners as we are through our retail-owned and -operated stores, or on our ecommerce store.”

Bringing it all together

With customers longing for great retail experiences and a return to normalcy, coupled with the sinking costs of retail leasing and rent, now is the perfect time to get back, or get into the retail space. But there are obstacles in the way. Good thing that we’ve been working with brands for more than 20 years to expand and improve their offerings and capabilities. Message us today and let’s get started.

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Subscription Sales Strategy: Flexible, Scalable & Required

Subscription Sales Strategy: Flexible, Scalable & Required

There have been many changes to the eCommerce landscape over the last 20 months. Purchasing habits that were once rare and occasional just a short time ago are now considered routine. Prosper Insights and Analytics released a survey that showed that nearly half of all adult respondents reported that new shopping behaviors were becoming “recurring habits”. The portion of the market that has benefited the most from this shift are eCommerce merchant Subscription offers. The Subscriptions market for physical goods has grown 90% since the start of 2020. It’s not like Subscription services are a ‘new’ thing, they have always been a growth tool. But new market pressures, an emphasis on customer retention and technological advancements have made the Subscription model and service not only more functional but desirable for both merchants and customers. In this blog we’ll dive a little deeper into the Subscription model, why now is the time to implement this shopping tool, what customers expect and how to deliver on those expectations  on a regular and consistent basis.

There’s no time like the present

Simply put, millions of Americans go online to purchase their everyday needs and your site’s user experience needs to be as frictionless and personalized as possible so you can provide your share of needed products. For years now, customers have shown a willingness to purchase digital subscription products. Think Netflix, Spotify and even Patreon.. This boom in subscription digital products has now begun to bleed into physical goods. Whether due to the pandemic, the shifting needs of consumers, technological advances or some combination of the three, customers now want the products they rely on, delivered on a repeat basis without the need to ‘checkout’ each time. If you don’t already offer any sort of subscription service it’s only a matter of time before it becomes crucial, and odds are your competitors are already experimenting, if not already completely committed to Subscription services sales.

Subscriptions unlock long term growth

Targeting and acquiring customers has and always will be a struggle. It’s hard enough as it is but Apple’s recent changes to their Privacy agreement has made it even more difficult to identify and capture prospective customers. Brands everywhere are taking a second look at their customer engagement strategy. Brands of all sizes face the same challenge: they are spending tons and tons of advertising dollars attempting to get customers to discover and love their product but not being able to convert that first purchase into a second or third. It’s a bit of a leaky bucket and a lost opportunity, as there is a chance there to retain that customer and encourage additional sales. Offering a Subscription service can patch that hole in the bucket and launch a long-term relationship with your customers. For any eCommerce brand that wants to get serious about driving incremental LTV and growth, subscriptions (whether it be subscribe & save, membership, pure-play subscriptions) are probably the most effective way to maximize their investment into customers to date.

What trends are we seeing from shoppers?

The modern customer expects brands to know them on a personal level, while not being ‘too close’. You need to be able to personalize their customer journey while not encroaching on their privacy. It’s a very fine line to walk and starts with understanding how customers want to shop. A Subscription service allows your customers to dictate the terms of agreement (price, timing of delivery, quantity) which is extremely empowering from their perspective and infinitely valuable to your brand. By purchasing a subscription service your customers are telling you exactly what they want from you, how many they want and when they want it. This arrangement not only pays financial dividends to you immediately but it also provides you with vital information you can use to better plan for future products, product launches, offers, demand planning and inventory management. 

Even if your brand does not identify as a ‘Subscription’ business and it’s not something you have ever offered before, subscriptions are an engagement lever that is now more widely available due to improved technology, as you are now seeing physical-goods subscriptions being offered in every industry and vertical. From clothing to beauty products, to pet care and food, subscription services are now becoming the standard. 

Subscription services offer long term revenue streams, establish long term customer relationships, establish and open channel of communication and give you the ability to better understand customer needs and order patterns.

How should your brand think about subscriptions?

We want to debunk the myth that Subscriptions for physical goods aren’t just for “box” businesses. With the advent of new extensions and tools, Subscription services can now be added to any brand’s business model. Whether you are new to Subscriptions, rapidly expanding or Subscription-based only there are a world of options open to you. It’s important to remember that Subscriptions shouldn’t be a gargantuan task, requiring new customer support or dev team members. It’s another tool in your tool kit that, if set up and maintained properly, can provide you with a steady stream of income and amazing insights.

Bringing it all together

While technology has made it easier to build and fulfill a Subscription service that will appeal to a wide range of users, it’s still no walk-in-the-park to long term financial success and stability. It is of utmost importance to build a Subscription model that fits your products and margins. And, perhaps most importantly, have the structures in place to fulfill these recurring orders. Good news is, we’re experts in this field. Contact a member of our team today and let’s figure out a plan that works for you.

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2022 Shipping Rate Changes: how to prep & what to expect

2022 Shipping Rate Changes: how to prep & what to expect

It seems like every year there are changes and updates made to shipping costs and this year is certainly no exception. Between the labor shortage, fuel costs and an unexpected backup-at-the-ports, carriers are definitely looking at an increase in costs which they will no doubt be passing along to you, the shipper. If you ship in the United States using UPS, DHL, or USPS you can count on an increase in shipping rates.  In this blog we’re going to review some of the changes made to shipping and what you can do about it in 2022.

USPS

Effective Date: January 9th, 2022

-Retail rates for First Class Package Service will increase by $0.50 for packages weighing 1–4 ounces, $0.30 for packages weighing 5–12 ounces, and $0.80–$1.70 for packages over 12 oz.

-Retail rates for Priority Mail Express will increase by 3.1% overall

UPS

Effective Date: December 26th, 2021

Not waiting until the new year, UPS implemented their new charges the day after Christmas. UPS published rates will increase by an average of 5.9%.

-UPS is making changes to the costs for value-added services and other charges.

Effective Date: January 9th, 2022

-The ZIP codes for which area surcharges apply will change. These include Delivery Area Surcharge, Extended Area Surcharge, and Remote Area Surcharge. Click here to see the full list of applicable ZIP codes.

DHL Express

Effective Jan 1, 2022 DHL Express retail rates will increase by an average of 5.9% for DHL Express Worldwide shipping service.

Canada Post

Effective January 10, 2022, Canada Post rates will increase by an average of 3.5% domestically and 2.8% to the US and internationally.

How to optimize your shipping strategy

The options available to you are largely based on your current shipping strategy; fee, flat rate or calculated shipping. Depending on which shipping option(s) your brand offers you will need to adjust your strategy accordingly.

Free Shipping

If you offer Free Shipping here are some options available to you:

An Increase in product prices – If you’re still dead-set on maintaining your ‘free shipping’ options then an increase in product prices may be where you make up the loss incurred from the increased shipping costs. If you increase your products’ prices by the same percentage as these shipping increases you will maintain your magins. Although, your repeat and loyal customers may notice an increase in price, which could lead to an impact in their purchase frequency and shopping habits. This may be something worth A/B testing. 

You could just do nothing – If you choose this route then you’ll need to absorb the increased cost of shipping yourself. Confirm your margins and your profitability before taking this route. 

Consider a switch to ‘Free Shipping Minimums” – There is a compromise to be found between increasing your product prices and doing nothing. And that compromise is to add a free shipping minimum. This tactic has been shown to increase the average order value, which will help to offset the increased cost in shipping. This strategy will also pass along the cost of shipping directly to your customers if their order fails to reach the minimum threshold.

Flat Rate

If you offer Flat Rate Shipping here are some options available to you:

You could just do nothing – Same as with Free Shipping, if you choose to do nothing then you’ll have to eat the cost yourself. Confirm this plan’s sustainability and long term functionality. 

Adjust or introduce Order Value Ranges – There’s no rule that says your flat rates need to be the same for every order. Consider offering a higher flat rate on smaller orders and lower flat rates as orders and cart sizes increase. This will help off-set the increase in shipping costs. 

Increase product prices – If you increase your products’ prices by the same percentage as these shipping increases you will maintain your magins. Although, your repeat and loyal customers may notice an increase in price, which could lead to an impact in their purchase frequency. 

Increase Flat Rate Shipping – This increase may lead to similar results as an increase in product prices and it may impact your abandoned cart rates as customers will see this charge later on in the sales process. Consider altering the messaging and frequency of your Cart Abandonment emails if this is the path you choose.

Calculated Shipping Rate

If you offer Calculated Shipping here are some options available to you:

You could just do nothing – If you use a calculated rates provider or app and you choose to do nothing then these new charges will be automatically updated as soon as they are implemented. 

Decrease Product Price – Since your shipping rates are going to be automatically updated via your carrier extensions and applications a decrease in product price is an option. Once again, ensure that your margins are sustainable and pricing remains consistent and strategically in-line with the rest of your product line and your competitors.

Adjust for 2022 and beyond

While your current 2022 budget may need to be adjusted to account for some of these new charges, this might be a blessing in disguise. You could use this opportunity to rethink your entire shipping strategy from the ground up. If none of your calculations hit on your target margin, pricing strategy or shipping rate then it is time to go back to the drawing board. The team here at InteractOne is experienced and knowledgeable and ready to help craft a shipping strategy that works for you and your plans.

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Evoke Emotion & Encourage Sales with your Color Palette

Evoke Emotion & Encourage Sales with your Color Palette

Setting up an eCommerce website for your business or personal brand is an exciting step. Not only are you making an investment in the future success of your company, but you’re also making a statement by creating a public space for your brand. Once your eCommerce website is up and active, it will be the place where people go to learn more about your business,  and form an opinion about your brand.  Guests will be influenced consciously and subconsciously based on the color scheme you incorporate into the site’s overall design. And this visual influence will ultimately play a role in deciding if they want to spend money on your products or services. 

That is why it is so important to create a color scheme that matches not only your brand but evokes the desired emotion you want your visitors to feel when they are engaged with your brand. 

In this blog post, we’ll go into why you should care about website color schemes, what they can say about you and your brand, how to pick the right color palette for your website, and tools that can help get you started.

What exactly is a website color scheme?

It is simply a collection of all the colors you use on your brand’s website. This includes every design element — such as the text, backgrounds, images, shapes — no matter how big or small. If it’s on your webpage, it’s part of your website color scheme. (If you have corporate brand guidelines, these choices will be driven by that document. If not, this is an opportunity to develop one.)

However, a color scheme is more than just the colors displayed on a webpage. It’s also the different weights that you assign to each color. For example, if you’re using bright red on your website, you’ll need to decide how big of a presence you want that shade of red to have in the overall look of your website.

Why is your color scheme so important?

Before we dive into the process of how to select the right color scheme for your site, it is important to understand why your color scheme matters so much. 

Choosing the right colors for the design of your website is crucial for your online success because they gain a reaction from your targeted audience. Colors can be  used  to stir your visitor’s emotions, to peak their interest – a simple color can become synonymous with a brand and choosing the correct color scheme can  increase brand recognition and extend beyond your website.  

Think about your favorite brands — what colors do they conjure up in your mind’s eye? For instance, do you think of blue when you think of Tiffany’s? Red when you think of Target? Yellow when you think of McDonald’s? If you answered yes, and happen to go to any of those brands’ websites, you’ll likely see those colors prominently featured. You have the same opportunity with your website design – to make a similar impression on your customers with the colors you choose. 

When deciding on how to make that impact, your color scheme is the first place you should start. Remember to be mindful of color psychology and the effect color can have on the emotions of your site visitors. While it’s not a requirement to follow the “rules” of color psychology, it can help you focus on the message and feeling you want your site to convey.

Here’s a quick overview of color psychology, and what different colors might convey:

  • Red: A bold color that evokes strong emotion. With its intensity, it creates a sense of urgency. For example, Target. 
  • Orange: Cheerful and confident, orange conveys the idea of enthusiasm. However, it can come off as the color of caution as well. For example, Amazon. 
  • Yellow: Like orange, yellow provides a cheerful feeling. It represents optimism and is usually attention-grabbing. One thing to consider, however, is that some shades can strain the eye. For example, McDonald’s.
  • Green: Represents growth and nature. It signifies health, serenity, and tranquility. It is associated with wealth. For example, Starbucks. 
  • Blue: This color is associated with water, and provides a feeling of calmness and serenity. Blue creates a sense of security and trust and is often used for corporations. For example, Facebook.
  • Purple: The color of wealth and success. It’s a powerful color, but also represents creativity. For example, FedEx.
  • Brown: Friendly, earthy, and commonly represents the outdoors. For example, UPS.
  • Black: A color with a sophisticated feeling. It’s often what we think of with “sleek” brands because of its exclusivity and mystery. For example, Nike.
  • Gray: Provides a feeling of security, reliability, and intelligence. For example, Lexus.
  • White: Provides a clean or neutral feeling. It’s a key color because it adds breathing room and what is referred to as “white space.” For example, Adidas.

If you already have a logo or brand colors ask yourself, do they evoke the emotion you want from your customers? If not, it may be time for a redesign to focus on  colors that test well with your audience and connect with your industry.

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How to choose the right color scheme for your website:

A little research in color theory and color psychology can go a long way in helping you choose the right color palette for your website. Everyone wants to get their site up and running as soon as possible, but there are a few things you should consider before you hit Publish that you should know:

Who Is Your Target Audience: Before you decide on website color schemes, you should do some research into which colors are most popular among the people you’re trying to connect with. For example, if your target audience is men over 50, you’re probably going to choose sleek blue and gray tones over bright pinks and yellows.

Which Colors Are Your Competitors Using: Certain industries tend to gravitate towards specific colors. For example, wellness brands tend to use a lot of neutral, earthy tones, and children’s brands typically use pastels or bright, playful colors (imagine a child’s brand that relies heavily on blacks and grays). Yes, you want to stand out from your competitors, but you don’t want your color choices to confuse or alienate your target audience so look into different variations of similar colors to ensure you stand out.

Do your research: The colors you use in your web design will affect how people perceive your brand, whether they realize it or not. As we discussed above, your first step in choosing your website color palette should be researching color theory and color psychology to learn how different colors are related to different emotions.

Keep up with industry trends: Having a better understanding of color trends gives you great insight into what’s emerging in the marketplace, helping you create a website that is new & progressive. Note: Change for the sake of change isn’t always a good thing. Too much change to keep up with the times can confuse your customers so be sure to continuously test what is working and what is not. 

Ensure you have balance: Think about the color harmonies, usually when deciding on a color palette you’ll begin with the dominant color as it will hold the most weight on your website. For instance, Target’s dominant color is red. From there, work your way back to lighter colors to compliment your dominant color. Use the below balance tool as a reference once you are ready to get started. 

The easiest way to select color combinations for your site is by using the color wheel and applying the principles of analogous, complementary, monochromatic, and triad color harmonies.

As you select your colors, remember that the types listed above aren’t definitive rules. They are meant to give you a general idea of the overall feel you want your site to have, but they’re by no means the only ways to create a palette that works for your brand. In addition, be careful about using too many colors as they risk competing against one another and causing eye fatigue or overwhelming your customers. How do you get around this? Introduce new experimental colors in small quantities to reduce risk.

Where to find color inspiration for your website:

Inspiration is everywhere, it can be found in the outdoors, by studying different design fields, watching your  competitors , and by staying informed with web/ branding trends. To help you on your color journey here are some of the trusted, easy-to-use resources we recommend: 

Pantone: Pantone is the design industry leader when it comes to choosing the right colors and provides the latest in color trends across all forms of marketing and graphic arts industries. Pantone is a physical color index and the perfect tool for any designer or business crafting products that are printed. 

Pinterest: Pinterest holds an impressive amount of color palettes created by designers and creatives all around the globe. Simply search by color, season, or theme for instant color inspiration.

From bright Pantone swatches to colorful idea boards, dedicated color websites and blogs can be a great way to experience unique color combinations you might not have thought to try otherwise. Try the below free sites for instant color palette inspiration.

Paletton: This color palette generator is great because it has several different modes, such as a color-blind simulation. It’s also useful for seeing how different visitors will view your color scheme, which is especially helpful if you can’t do a lot of in-person user testing on the site.

Coolors: This handy tool is great for testing different colors next to each other. Featuring a drag-and-drop interface, it allows you to not only customize your color palette but move things around to see what looks best or clashes next to another color. 

Canva’s color wheel: This colorful tool by the Canva team is a great resource for picking out a new palette and for learning even more about the color theory we referenced earlier. It’ll help you discover different combinations based on those theories, so you know your decision is backed by art and science.

BrandColors: BrandColors shows you how leading brands use color to differentiate their businesses, tell their brand stories and let their customers know what they stand for. You can scroll alphabetically through a list of corporations, nonprofits, and startups, or search by brand name.

If you already have images, logos, or branding that your website colors have to match consider using sites like Color Hunter, Adobe Color, Paletton, or Hex Color Scheme.

Test out the final product

When you’re finished choosing your colors and designing your website, you’ll need to test it out to see how it will look when it goes live. Think about it: you test your CTAs, headlines, and other website elements. Why should color be any different? A website behavior analysis tool like Crazy Egg offers the perfect opportunity to figure out how your audience responds to your current color palette and can help you make better-informed decisions on the overall design and palette of your website. For example, you are creating a website for a sports team who normally gravitate towards bolder, darker colors, but you decide to choose the colors pink and blue and you find out during the testing phase that your audience doesn’t like it or doesn’t react how you want them to. Without testing, you would not have known this feedback and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to change it.

Bringing it all together

When it comes to running a website or a business (or both!), it’s always a good idea to look for ways to simplify basic processes. After all, the less time you spend on basic tasks, the more time you’ll have to spend on processes and decisions that have a bigger impact on your success.  And when you have an established color scheme, you make basic design choices much easier, both for yourself and for your designers and developers. Are you ready to incorporate the right color palette onto your website to evoke the right emotions with your customers and need expert help?

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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.

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