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Social means so much more than a Facebook page or a Tweet these days. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest — to name a few — are making their mark on the retail marketplace. But are they short-term trends or do they have the staying power to become long-term solutions? What are the best approaches for retailers? What does the future hold? These and other key questions are asked and answered in this section.

Multi-Screening: Increase Your Impact Through Social Media

1VP MattRogers ImageAs a marketer who utilizes multiple channels both online and offline, tracking the impact and effectiveness of campaigns is core to providing essential insight into how to optimize and improve marketing efforts so that the spend can go further and deliver a greater return on investment (ROI).

We should be aware that there are different expectation of campaigns: from building a community to driving brand awareness, to the one which is closest to the heart of many MDs — the bottom line. One tricky aspect which I’ve witnessed through offline marketing is tracking the ROI in a digital environment. This is in part down to the disconnect between offline medias and the online world.

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Does Facebook Messenger Signal More Automated Customer Service Ahead?

While social media has become an important retail vehicle for marketing and consumer engagement, Facebook’s new API for Messenger brings a different twist to the concept of retail customer service. Rather than simply enabling one-on-one interactions, retailers can leverage these apps to produce live automated messages for consumers who are browsing e-Commerce sites on their mobile phones.

Newegg has already gotten in on the action, partnering with Facebook to add Messenger to its online customer service offerings. E-Commerce retailers Everlane and Zulily actually began testing with the app early in 2015, allowing shoppers to purchase products within interactions and receive periodic order status updates.

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Rock/Creek Unites Digital And Store-Based Customer Tracking

Rock/Creek has a lot to gain from learning about its customers — particularly their plans for outdoor adventures. The retailer's most valuable shoppers are those who are about to "graduate"— set off on a backpacking trip across Europe, hike the length of the Pacific Coast Trail or scale the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Knowing exactly when these trekkers are prepping to leave allows Rock/Creek to supply them with everything they need to enjoy the trip (and hopefully survive to return and buy more products). The total "spend" from these customers easily can reach $5,000 to $6,000 per adventure, including items like specially designed shoes, GPS-enabled watches and emergency communicators.

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Communities Influence The Next Wave Of Customer Engagement Strategies

As more retailers adopt content marketing strategies to differentiate themselves from the pack, they must not lose sight of the goal to connect with their consumer base — particularly those shoppers who already are "fans" of the brand. In fact, embracing the concept of “quality over quantity” can build strong communities, which can promote the brand even further.

Focusing on these top consumers — as opposed to taking time to concentrate on casual shoppers — enables retailers to gain a greater understanding of their highest spenders and, in turn, boost engagement. In building these robust relationships, retailers can create relatable content marketing programs that influence shoppers beyond their current community, and deliver a strong ROI.

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Three Ways To Use CRM Data To Drive Media Effectiveness

1merkleProgrammatic media spending grew more than 29% last year and social media grew more than 50%, according to eMarketer. This rapid growth is expected to continue for the next five years until the next revolutionary platform/channel is developed by marketers. What's most interesting about these two channels is that they are reminiscent of the early days of paid search. They rely on media bids in an automated buying platform; they are generating immense reach; they utilize a new form of ad unit and they provide new forms of targeting.  

The focus is that these new forms of targeting are augmented and enabled by first- and third-party data. In fact, if you think of the Internet marketing evolution in terms of different eras, you would argue that we are currently in the people-based marketing era. This is defined by the decoupling of data and media to enable targeting using first-party data, which has been the bread and butter of direct marketing for 30 years.

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Ace Hardware And Walmart: Different Models For Cause-Based Marketing

Good causes create good customer relationships. As many as 90% of consumers said they are more likely to switch to brands that are associated with a good cause, according to a 2015 study by Cone Communications. So why not get involved?

If done properly, cause marketing can be quite effective. But the effort has to be sincere: both the retailer and consumers must be passionate about the cause.

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#CCSeries Webinars Chart Roadmap To Retail's Future

In the fast-changing world of retail, the future is never very far away, and preparing for it is a full-time job. The Retail TouchPoints Connected Consumer Series, held March 14 to 17, featured nine webinars that provided attendees with a detailed, data-filled roadmap to a fast-arriving future.

Speakers from Accenture, RSR, EKN Research, Bronto, Aptos and other industry leaders shared actionable insights into such hot topics as:

• Personalization;

• Bringing Digital Convenience Into The Brick-And-Mortar Environment;

• Leveraging The Internet Of Things (IoT) in Real-World Retail; and

• Using New Tools To Engage With Connected, Time-Starved Consumers

Recaps of the sessions' highlights follow this complete list of the #CCSeries 2016 sessions, which are available on-demand:

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REI #OptOutside Campaign Results Show Power Of Sincerity Plus Engagement

While REI’s decision to close its stores on Black Friday as part of its #OptOutside social campaign prompted debate on whether it was a smart business move, the retailer’s year-end results indicate that the campaign has certainly paid off.

REI reported a 9.3% increase in revenues and a 7% increase in comparable store sales in 2015, but its biggest accomplishment was a 23% uptick in digital sales.

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Z Gallerie Asks Customers ‘What’s Your Style Personality?’

Home furniture and décor retailer Z Gallerie wants to find out the true “Style Personality” of each of its consumers in order to provide them with more personalized content. The campaign, which uses the kind of self-assessment quiz popular on many social media sites, has already generated:

  • 1.5 times more engagement via display ads featuring personalized product images;

  • 1.4 times more average order value for customers engaging with the Style Personality quiz; and

  • 100,000 customers signing up for Style Personalities, 40,000 of which are new customers.

As part of its overall strategy of appealing to a broader group of consumers, Z Gallerie created a Style Personality quiz that asks consumers about their shopping, fashion, design and decorating preferences. The retailer created five Style Personalities, aligning each one with tailored product assortments designed to appeal to a wide range of consumer aesthetics. The Personalities include:

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St. Frock Achieves 480% Return on Social Spend With Ad Retargeting

When online fashion retailer St. Frock decided to double down on its social media strategy, it expanded on a plan to re-engage recent web site visitors and provide context to online promotions. In combing Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads with the Brand Networks social advertising platform, the retailer was able to build out a retargeting strategy that ultimately:

  • Boosted return on ad spend (ROAS) by 480%;

  • Lowered Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) by 70%; and

  • Helped the retailer generate $5.5 million in revenue in 2015.

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Instagram Tops E-Commerce Engagement Despite Tiny Share Of Traffic

While social media sites only account for 6% of all web traffic diverted to e-Commerce business, Instagram manages to lead the pack when it comes to keeping these potential shoppers engaged with a retailer.

Users accessing an e-Commerce site via Instagram spend an average of 192.04 seconds on the site, marking the longest rate of any channel, according to research from Yotpo. After Instagram, the next longest set of services include:

  • Email (188.65 seconds);

  • Referrals (184.01)

  • Direct, or typing the hyperlink in the search bar (181.53); and

  • Search engines (164.20).

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Streamline Mobile And Social Selling Experiences With Stripe Relay

1SS Relay ImagePayments technology provider Stripe has unveiled Relay, an API that serves as a single integration point for retailers to sell products across social media, mobile apps, advertisements and simple links.

Once deployed, the Relay API serves as a buy button that can be placed in multiple platforms. The buy buttons connect directly to retailers’ inventory and order management systems and keep users in the app for the entire transaction, rather than getting pushed to a third-party web site.

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Q&A With Eric Grosse: Hotwire Co-Founder And CEO Of Chairish

1EricGrosseIt's an impressive résumé: Eric Grosse has been Co-Founder of Hotwire, President of Expedia Worldwide, CEO of TaskRabbit and now, CEO and Co-Founder of Chairish, an online, curated marketplace for vintage and used home furnishings.

Grosse was inspired to enter the home décor marketplace business by his fellow Co-Founders, Gregg and Anna Brockway. Gregg also was a fellow co-founder of Hotwire, while Anna previously was a Worldwide Vice President at Levi's and hailed from a family of furniture and design executives.

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Subscription Gifts Challenge 'Big Bang' Valentine's Day Model

Valentine's Day gift giving has traditionally been about the impact of a one-time gift. Whether it's flowers or candy that will only last a little while, diamonds that are both forever and a girl's best friend, or the hand-made card designed to melt the recipient's heart, gifting has been about making a splash on the big day itself.

This year, however, the growing popularity of subscription retailing is providing competition to the traditional "Big Bang" gifting model for Valentine's Day. Rather than the splashy one-time present, many shoppers are opting for gifts that keep on giving, month after month.

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