Social - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Tue, 19 Feb 2019 13:18:40 -0500 RTP en-gb Exclusive Poshmark CMO Q&A: How Social Commerce Creates A Network Effect On A Personal Level 000aSteveTristanYoungAs retail and social media channels increasingly intertwine, the concept of “social commerce” is making its mark. One strong example is Poshmark, a digital fashion marketplace where users can buy or sell new or used clothing and accessories, which is home to 40 million users and 5 million sellers.

To fuel Poshmark’s growth, the retailer recently hired Steven Tristan Young as its first CMO, seeking to tap his expertise from time spent at Grubhub, American Express, Puma and other brands. Young has worked to leverage the unique benefits of Poshmark’s place at the intersection of retail and social media to improve the company’s marketing prowess.

In this exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints, Young discusses:

  • How the C-suite can empower retail marketing teams company-wide;
  • How social commerce represents both a new direction for merchants and a return to traditional retailing; and
  • What retailers can learn from how the financial services industry treats its customers.
  • How do we not just market as direct response?
  • How do we connect them with retention marketing and also connect that with brand PR as well as community marketing?
  • How do we look at that as a whole, not just individual pieces?

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What are some of the reasons Poshmark felt it would be important to give marketing a spot in the C-suite?

Steven Tristan Young: When I looked at the opportunity in terms of what was currently there, what I saw was a lot of strong fundamentals, but a few things that I could bring to the table at the C-suite level to help empower different marketing teams and get people to think differently. What I needed was to have those teams think about an integrated marketing strategy, not a siloed strategy.

I joined Poshmark at a time of rapid growth, and I was excited by the opportunity to help empower the already powerhouse marketing teams, while also getting people to think differently in order to scale even further. When pushing a team to think about a holistic, integrated marketing strategy, a person at the C-suite level can help create traction within the company and see the macro perspective, which can bring market opportunities to fruition faster. For instance:

Also, as a C-suite person, just looking at the macro view can help connect the market opportunities and how we need to do X, Y or Z to get there or capture that market share.

RTP: How does Poshmark’s combination of social media and retailing help it stand out from other fashion platforms?

Young: Since starting this role, I’ve dedicated my time to understanding what it means to be a social commerce platform and how it’s innately different than other retailers or social networks. I realized that within the long history of commerce, there was always this incredibly personal connection with traditional commerce. Going back well over 100 years, people would go to their local butcher, fish market or farmer and develop personal relationships with those purveyors. But once department stores, big-box retailers and e-Commerce became the reality, retail became highly impersonal. Today, there’s a limitless number of options available at any consumers’ fingertips, but there’s no one to answer fundamental questions many shoppers have while making a purchase.

As a result, we see people turning to their social network for recommendations, asking questions like, ‘Is this product right for me?’, ‘Is it in style?’, ‘Is there somewhere I can get a better deal?’ We often turn to our friends and family for their thoughts on goods and services — from a dentist recommendation to where to travel on our next vacation — because we trust our personal network’s taste and judgment.

E-Commerce today is missing this peer-to-peer communication and high user engagement. Social commerce integrates shopping with social recommendations, giving shoppers a platform to connect with other shoppers around various categories of merchandise.

I think the company has done a tremendous job creating that kind of ecosystem. The challenge I have is, ‘How do we accelerate that ecosystem as we add more people so we’re keeping that sort of loop on the inside?’ I can’t just add X number of buyers without adding X number of sellers, because that throws off the equilibrium.

Engagement starts with an action, and on Poshmark, a purchase often isn’t the first action, maybe it’s a comment or a like instead. That interaction gets you more engaged in the conversation, and I think that’s the new way of selling that people aren’t used to. That’s what this company has already unlocked with this user base, and now the question is this: How do I accelerate that even further as we grow?

RTP: How can Poshmark’s social media presence and capabilities be harnessed to drive marketing outreach?

Young: Social media is just one of our many marketing channels. The Poshmark community of five million sellers and 40 million users also provides a distribution channel to either drive awareness of the platform, or an immediate sale.

Many of my favorite brands were discovered through people’s recommendations to me. Today, we are trained as consumers to share our experiences with friends — especially if they are overwhelmingly positive. Consumers don’t typically turn to Consumer Reports any more for recommendations, they rely on word of mouth as their product research. An organic community of highly-engaged devotees such as we have on Poshmark is what any marketer dreams of — it’s a network effect on a personal level.

To me, it’s important to leverage that, while simultaneously growing the brand so I can find new audiences and introduce them not just to the fashion component of the platform but other potential markets. We just launched gifts — a whole segment that people didn’t think about — that’s now available on Poshmark. I think there are a lot of categories that we’re going to grow into where the social ecosystem will naturally lend itself, creating more users and more sellers.

People spend north of 23-27 minutes in the app per day, opening it seven to eight times. I think that’s basically saying, ‘I’m used to doing this on many other social media platforms, now I’m going to do it on this platform where I’m also discovering I can buy other things I like.’ If you think about the power of connections with discovery — that has a lot of potential.

RTP: Poshmark offers fashion to a wide variety of audiences, including men, children and luxury. Does each segment require its own unique outreach, or can messages resonate across demographics?

Young: Everyone who is a shopper is a potential seller, and vice versa. Our goal is to understand the consumer psychographic that drives each of those behaviors and leverage marketing channels to ‘nudge’ that behavior forward. I don’t think it will be a bifurcated experience in the long run.

In my mind, we can have a global message about the platform, but use marketing segment-specific messages that are relevant to the target available. For example, a Poshmark user may like luxury designer handbags, but she might also be a mother shopping for her kids. In this case our marketing strategy needs to communicate with that potential buyer in a more strategic, direct and targeted way in order to accomplish both goals.

As Poshmark continues to grow its market offerings, there’s going to be more and more categories and continuous crossover between market segments. However, all of these categories naturally lend themselves to each other, since yesterday’s consumer segmentation based on price points and demographics are blurring. Our goal is to make sure the Poshmark platform allows our shoppers to quickly find exactly what they want.

RTP: What lessons can retail marketers learn from non-retail industries, such as financial services?

Young: As a retailer, you often believe that the brands you’re selling are what customers care about the most. I think that has changed dramatically. There are more brands, there are similar, cheaper items, and I think the notion that the brand itself is what’s driving people in-store or online is the main reason why a lot of retailers are struggling.

In financial services, we had a fundamental focus on service marketing: When you acquire a customer, how do you treat them? When you are engaging them to spend more online, how do you treat them? When they haven’t interacted with a web site in three months, how do you treat them?

When you think about Amazon, you think of the fantastic customer experience. The customer journey matters more than the brands you are selling, as well as the tentpoles of the marketing you’re creating. If people aren’t getting what they want from beginning to end, then they’re not coming back. That’s where financial services are doing a great job. That’s how I was trained — that the ultimate customer experience trumps all.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) Social Wed, 13 Feb 2019 09:00:00 -0500
How Retailers Can Benefit From Social Proof

0aaaMike Austin Fresh RelevanceWhen looking for a new outfit or wanting the best local pizza in a new city, some look at what Kylie Jenner was wearing in her latest Instagram post or check the top-rated restaurant on Yelp. This is due to the psychological phenomenon known as “social proof,” which refers to consumers tending to believe the actions of others to show the best course of action. Faced with an overwhelming amount of options, shoppers often look to others’ experiences to make their purchase decisions easier and better.

The concept of social proof also shows why customer reviews and endorsements are so crucial for a brand’s ongoing success. This phenomenon is frequently used on web sites, but has recently been put into practice by Amazon’s brick-and-mortar location in Manhattan, which only includes top sellers rated four stars and above and also features actual customer reviews next to products.

Let’s look at three key types of social proof that can be infused into retailers’ marketing strategy:

  • Wisdom of the crowd
  • User social proof
  • Celebrity social proof

Make It Easy To Follow The Crowds

Telling consumers what their peers are purchasing increases conversions by playing upon their fear of missing out (FOMO) and provides reassurance that they are following the consensus.

FOMO can be leveraged by letting shoppers know which products are creating a buzz on your web site, e.g. by showing how often a product has been viewed and purchased in the last 24 hours. Using stock data, you can also highlight fast or best-selling merchandise in your product recommendations. Retailers usually see a 3% increase in conversions from including a ‘trending products’ feed on the homepage. Featuring trending products in your emails is another great way to help shoppers discover new items they might like.

Positive product ratings and reviews reassure customers that they are choosing the right product. Consumers have come to expect them, with one in three (34%) stating they won’t make a purchase if an online store doesn’t show product ratings. Displaying them on the homepage or product detail page is a given, but they are also very effective in lifecycle email campaigns. For example, including ratings and reviews in your cart abandonment emails delivers an average conversion uplift of 38%.

Leveraging User Generated Content

User social proof refers to when retailers let their customers do some of their marketing work for them. A prime example of this was Apple’s 2015 “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign, where Apple crowdsourced photos taken by customers and used them in billboards, commercials and print ads all over the world. In part thanks to this consumer-centric campaign that built widespread awareness of the camera capabilities, the iPhone 6 is one of most successful phones ever.

When shoppers debate whether or not to make a purchase, user generated content (UGC) is often seen as a source of unbiased, genuine material — as opposed to traditional advertising. UGC is so influential for purchasing decisions that as many as 76% of consumers believe content from others is more honest than a brand’s advertising.

Retailers can implement user social proof in their marketing by using social content created by their customers in emails and online. For instance, clothing brand Free People uses UGC on its site, allowing shoppers to see what their products look like on real people and various ways to style them. Emails are another great place for UGC, especially if the content is pulled from social channels in real time.

The Markle Effect: Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrity endorsements leverage the power and influence of public figures to encourage purchases. Whether it’s paid endorsements or the less frequent, yet very effective, organic endorsement, retailers have seen measurable impacts from public figures like Meghan Markle or Kanye West.

Celebrity social proof is successful because consumers trust the choices of public figures they idolize — it’s like the “monkey see, money do” phenomenon. Retailers that were endorsed by popular public figures also cite these endorsements as generating customers that are more engaged and also more likely to share their purchases online.

To turn a sprinkle of royal stardust into extra sales, retailers should make sure to share these endorsements with customers. After Meghan Markle was seen sporting Kurt Geiger’s footwear, the brand was quick to use images of Markle wearing their boots across all communication channels. Showing shoppers how to re-create the looks of their favorite public figures with similar, cheaper products is another strategic opportunity to get your customers on board.

Social proof, from other customers to the most popular celebrities, are a strategic tactic for retailers looking to make their marketing convert better. However, paying for celebrity endorsements can be expensive, so if you are keen to implement social proof into your marketing strategy, invest in a marketing platform that offers you a comprehensive set of tools. Tactics such as star ratings and FOMO-related tactics are easily scalable and can be deployed across the web site and email campaigns. Therefore, they are a highly cost-effective way to increase sales across the board, not just for whichever product the celeb happened to wear. Incentivizing customers to share their purchases through word-of-mouth and on social media is another important step.

Producing effective content and marketing campaigns requires a tremendous amount of time and effort. Retail marketers should be prepared to capitalize on social proof, which is one of the few opportunities where you can benefit from letting your customers do the marketing for you.


Mike Austin is the Co-Founder and CEO at Fresh Relevance. While working at his previous email marketing business, Austin recognized the challenge of data aggregation in the e-Commerce space, launching Fresh Relevance in 2013 with co-founders Eddy Swindell and Pete Austin to solve this data need and optimize the customer journey. A serial entrepreneur, Austin founded his first software business when he was 16 and has been developing software and software businesses for more than two decades. Having worked in digital marketing for the majority of his career, Austin is an expert in tying digital experiences with traditional marketing databases, with a deep understanding of data and how to leverage it.

]]> (Mike Austin, Fresh Relevance) Executive ViewPoints Wed, 06 Feb 2019 09:34:09 -0500
Philanthropy, Local Connections Create Event Marketing Success For Kendra Scott Philanthropy, Local Connections Create Event Marketing Success For Kendra Scott

Experiential retail has become a popular buzzword in the industry, as retailers seek to deliver memorable experiences in stores, both to build relationships with customers and grow sales. For brands like jewelry retailer Kendra Scott, there’s no better way to do that than with in-store events. At each of its 94 stores, the brand hosts 12 to 20 events per month.

During a pre-NRF 2019 event hosted by the jewelry brand alongside event marketing solution provider Splash, Kendra Scott Director of Retail Marketing Amy Young sat down for a fireside chat with Splash Co-Founder and CEO Ben Hindman to discuss the brand’s unique event strategies and what drives their success.

Q: How do you leverage events as part of Kendra Scott’s go-to-market strategy?

Amy Young: Events are a huge revenue driver for us. We task our stores with hosting an insane number of events on a weekly basis, and a lot of times we have our influencer events, local media events and shopping parties. We have what we call Kendra Gives Back (KGB), which is where we tap into the local community — local charities and local causes — and host events where a percentage of proceeds from that event go back to the charity. That’s our way to really connect with customers while also driving revenue, gaining new customers and also giving back to charities.

We crank them out and keep the doors open [during the events]. Whenever someone comes in, we explain that a percentage of sales from that day will be going back to XYZ organization. We use the opportunity to introduce the passerby to the hosts and go from there.

Q: What’s needed to make these all work?

Young: We have events teams dedicated to each store. Local marketing is a huge focus for us, and they are out on the ground introducing themselves and having the conversations. They let them know how we can help them, and that our events are really a platform for our charity partners. Our teams are a well-oiled machine and they know they are their own marketing and PR mavens and own that community. They are some of the most well-connected human beings I’ve ever met. They are keeping their fingers on the pulse in the local communities.

Philanthropy is one of the core pillars of our brand and it’s also something that’s close to Kendra Scott. She says we always have something to give. So when hiring anyone, philanthropy has to be something that drives them, that they have been involved in in a previous life, or something that they want to get into. They understand the importance of philanthropy and what that means to the brand and Kendra herself.

Q: How do you pick the right charities to partner with?

Young: It’s about vetting them and having that face-to-face conversation, and just making sure that our missions align. Our core pillars are family, fashion and philanthropy. We really try to keep the charities that we partner with aligned with those core pillars. What I try to do is think, ‘Do our event partners resonate with our customer? Are they someone she wants to meet or that she aspires to be? Is it something that she cares about?’ Then we try to expand that relationship.

Q: Companies often have issues scaling up store-level and local events. How do you deal with that challenge?

Young: We use Splash a lot for that. We focus on quality control. It’s really about having the hard facts and analytics. A major KPI for us is acquisition and customer retention. So, Sally Sue loves an event based on rescued animals, while Jane Doe loves an event that gives back to women leadership in businesses. We can really customize how we’re speaking to her on different channels, and that’s been a huge help for us.

Q: What are some ways you format events to create special moments?

Young: It used to be just putting out champagne and some macarons… then it was getting a DJ. We still have champagne at every event, but I always ask myself and the events team, What is she going to remember? What is she taking an Instagram picture of in our store? What is she going to tell her girlfriends about? Did she learn something? Did she meet someone cool that she can network with in the future? Did she leave feeling like she’s part of our family; did she leave feeling empowered? If she puts on a piece of jewelry that she bought at that event, what is the emotion that’s going to resonate with her? I try to dig deep on an emotional level.

Q: How do you integrate in-store sales during events?

Young: We like to integrate a shopping incentive into our events — like a gift with purchase of a limited-edition product — and that’s been really successful for us. The thing about the KGB events in particular — they have to purchase during that two-hour event timeframe for the percentage of proceeds to go back to the cause. So that is the key that will get them to buy then and there. It’s clear on the invitations, the store associates make it known.

Q: What kinds of processes have you developed for promoting these events?

Young: Thanks to Splash, we have lists now. Before it was just sending to our same customer friends over and over, which was getting tired. So we’re building lists and doing a lot of email outreach.

Social media is fantastic. We’ve been exploring a lot with Instagram and Facebook ads whenever we have the opportunity.

We are also leaning on hosts to promote. We create an invite for them, but then again, it’s also that incentive — if you’re trying to raise something for XYZ and you’re inviting your friends out, you want to provide a great event. The fact that they’re personally and emotionally invested as well is going to always be a great factor.

Q: Can you tell me about your internal associate training for events?

Young: They are hired with an event/philanthropic mindset. They go through extensive training with our Ops team. We have tons of handbooks and guides and we have area event managers who are really hands on and coach them and guide them. It’s important for our store associates to know the DNA of our brand.

Q: What about the non-charity events?

Young: We do a lot of local influencer events. I think that every market now has a local influencer community. They may not have 2 million followers, but they have been really successful for us just because some of those local influencers and markets get overlooked sometimes if they’re not in New York or L.A. They’re appreciative of the brand and become great spokespeople for us, but they also do have followings.

We also have quarterly collection launch events. Those have been great too, where we take inspiration and use the platform as a way to share Kendra’s direct design inspiration and the reasoning behind the collection, the versatility of it and how it can tie back to previous purchases.

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Retail Success Stories Tue, 22 Jan 2019 09:27:55 -0500
Saks Fifth Avenue Targets Facebook Shoppers With Holiday Gift Guide Chatbot Saks Fifth Avenue Targets Facebook Shoppers With Holiday Gift Guide Chatbot

For the second year in a row, Saks Fifth Avenue launched a Holiday Gift Guide chatbot on Facebook Messenger. The Saks team brought back the feature after last year’s success — 55% of users who took the quiz clicked back to the retailer’s e-Commerce site, with many of them purchasing the gifts that were suggested by the AI-powered guide.

“We want to reach customers wherever they are and be a resource,” said Emily Essner, SVP of Marketing and Digital at Saks Fifth Avenue in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “1.2 billion people actively use Messenger to communicate, so it's a no-brainer to have an active presence. We decided to work with Headliner Labs to build a fluid, conversational recommendation experience in Messenger because it resonates with customers and translates into clickthrough traffic back to Saks.”

Headliner Labs developed the chatbots from beginning to implementation, leveraging consumer data collected by Facebook.

To activate the chatbot, users can click the “Send a Message” button on the right-hand side of the page. From there, they can take a quiz to see recommended gifts “For Him,” “For Her” or “For Kids.” The bot asks users four questions about the person they’re looking to buy for, including favorite drinks and vacation spots, and based on the user’s responses the bot suggests relevant gifts from Additionally, the bot tracks conversions and clicks over time, and will adjust future gift suggestions based on what users have purchased or browsed.

“The conversations for this chatbot happen entirely on Facebook Messenger,” said Essner. “However, clients can pick up and leave off between a web browser and the app on your phone. There are Click-to-Messenger ads that send people directly to the bot. We also have the ability to follow up with people in Messenger after they have completed the gift guide for a seamless customer service experience.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Social Fri, 21 Dec 2018 13:17:54 -0500
PupSocks Boosts Paid Social Advertising Revenue 12% With Predictive AI PupSocks Boosts Paid Social Advertising Revenue 12% With Predictive AI

PupSocks gives pet owners the chance to show how much they love their pets by custom-printing their faces on socks, mugs, tote bags and more. With such a visually oriented product, the one-year-old online retailer’s growth depends on capturing an audience that loves showing off their pets on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Aiming both to accelerate its growth via paid social advertising and better measure its campaigns’ success on the two social platforms, PupSocks implemented the Pattern89 AI software platform. In the first 10 days of working with Pattern89, PupSocks saw:

  • Revenue from paid social ads increase 12%;
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS) improve 15%; and
  • Reinvigorated underperforming ad sets in smaller campaigns, increasing their ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) 31%.

The AI component of the platform is designed specifically to assist in predicting the best media buying decisions, as well as allocating budgets and optimizing campaigns.

“We’ve got more than 7,000 ads running right now, and that’s split across 1,500 different ad sets across dozens of campaigns. Now we can instantly see insights of which of these ads are performing better than others,” said Zach Zelner, CEO and Co-Founder of PupSocks in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For example, ‘This target group is not producing at a high level. However, this piece of creative within this ad group is dominating, and we should be allocating all our budget into that instead of two other ads that for some reason doesn’t resonate with this group.’”

Pattern89’s ARGO engine analyzes PupSocks ads across 2,500 different dimensions to predict which ads will perform the best. Through daily algorithmic analysis of their paid social campaigns, the PupSocks media buyers get a task list of which actions should take priority and would have the most impact. Example tasks may include:

  • “Invest your budget more heavily in video to drive low CPC (cost per click) for consideration campaigns;”
  • “Add top performing emojis to your copy to improve conversion campaign ROAS;” and
  • “Move budget investment from Facebook to Instagram to lower awareness CPM” (costs per thousand impressions).

With this data, PupSocks media buyers now have “low-lying fruit” to start their day that can bring an immediate return on select social ads, according to Zelner.

“We run maybe a $7 million per year paid social budget, in which $4 million comes in a 45-day span through the holiday season,” said Zelner. “It becomes a very simple question: When we have the opportunity to increase our ROAS, even incrementally, we go for it. When we ran the Pattern89 pilot, we saw that there were opportunities that were missed by our media buyers.”

PupSocks Expands Paid Social To 4% Of Ad Spend

The retailer has even increased its paid social budget from 3.3% to approximately 4% of ad spend, and while Zelner doesn’t attribute the entire jump specifically to the Pattern89 platform, he indicates that it definitely influenced the retailer’s ability to scale spending in this category. Zelner estimates that this jump could enable as much as a 20% increase in ROAS.

Additionally, the platform allows the retailer’s marketers to focus on more creative and strategic tasks. “Their bandwidth increases dramatically because they’re not locked into monotonous data analysis,” Zelner said. “And that was probably half the job of our media buyers before, and that’s 70% alleviated now.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Tue, 18 Dec 2018 08:53:52 -0500
5 Last-Minute Strategies To Drive Holiday Sales On Facebook And Instagram

0aaaDeclan Kennedy StitcherAdsThe holidays are fast approaching.

Accounting for the majority of annual retail sales, this time of year prompts most organizations to start preparations well in advance. Deloitte is forecasting that holiday sales could grow by 5.6% this year to more than $1.1 trillion – bringing even more opportunity for brands to boost revenue.

But here’s the challenge. Today’s consumers have limitless buying options at their disposal and today’s retail climate is more complex than it’s ever been. To gain market share, brands’ holiday strategies need to stand out. Not only must these campaigns be eye-catching to shoppers but they must also quickly communicate value.

If that doesn’t sound like your planned holiday campaign, there’s still time to create effective Facebook and Instagram ads. It’s not too late to create campaigns that are sure to make your customers choose your brand over the competition this holiday shopping season.

Read on for five simple but effective strategies that will help your brand move the needle on Facebook and Instagram.

1. Create A Visual Experience Using Instagram Stories

More than 300 million people view Instagram Stories every day. That’s a vast audience you must be in front of for the holidays.

In addition to the sheer audience size, Instagram Stories ads are interwoven among organic content that consumers are already seeing, so the format comes off as less invasive than other formats. Instagram Stories ads also run vertically on the entire screen, which gives you full use of a viewer’s screen.

For thumb-stopping Instagram Stories ads:

  • Keep content authentic-looking. While your photos or video should be high-quality, it should not be overproduced.
  • Don’t write too much copy. Instagram Stories ads last just 10 seconds. Don’t waste the opportunity to connect with people by displaying a wall of text. Get creative with visual elements that will motivate your audience to swipe up for more information.
  • Use overlays that resonate with your target demographic. With Instagram Stories, you can place colorful graphics and emojis over your content. If it aligns with your brand narrative, include one or two of these elements. It will give your content an organic feel.

2. Create Effortless Yet Engaging Videos

Nearly 80% of consumers indicate they would rather watch a video to learn more about a product than reading text on a page, according to a WyzOwl study. Meantime, 84% said they have been convinced to make a purchase after watching a brand's video.

Creating engaging video can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.

Facebook introduced its Video Creation Kit in July — enabling retailers to create mobile-first video ads with very few resources. The Video Creation Kit pulls images from the product feed to create Instant Experiences (formally known as Canvas ads). While this solution cannot be used across the entire product catalog for dynamic ads, it is a good way to quickly elevate certain campaigns.

Here are three simple ideas for how to incorporate the Video Creation Kit:

  • If you have products that come in different colors or patterns, create an engaging video showing off each variation.
  • Flip through every angle of one item to provide a complete view. This works well for accessories or shoes.
  • Utilize user-generated content to create a video-like ad that depicts how much people love your products. Show potential customers how others are styling your products during the holidays.

3. Reach Shoppers Who Are Planning To Self-Gift

According to a Kiip survey, 55% of holiday shoppers plan to buy new clothes for themselves this season. Remind shoppers that your brand has great options for self-gifting.

Take advantage of Facebook’s lookalike targeting to effectively reach people who are more likely to buy from your brand because they are similar to customers who have purchased from you in the past. Reach them with ads that feature your best-selling products, and use compelling copy to let them know that these popular items will bring them joy.

4. Use Colorful Overlays To Feature Holiday Offers

It’s no secret, consumers are deal hunting during the holidays. A whopping 87% of holiday shoppers will search for deals when shopping for gifts this year, according to a RetailMeNot survey. Show shoppers that your brand has the deals they are seeking. Use Facebook’s Creative Tools to overlay special prices and free shipping offers onto your dynamic ads. While this native tool is limited when it comes to font and color options, you can work with a Facebook Marketing Partner to unlock advanced options that fit into your existing brand guidelines.

5. Creating Winning Holiday Ads Is Still Possible

Your ad creative has to be on target to win your share of this year’s holiday demand. If you don’t currently have the resources available to create dedicated holiday creative for your Facebook and Instagram ads, don’t panic. Simply implement these tactics. The five ideas mentioned above are not just easy to execute, but they’re visually pleasing and will help drive performance for you this holiday season.


Declan Kennedy is the CEO and co-founder of StitcherAds, a Facebook Marketing Partner. Through his experience in paid social and digital innovation, StitcherAds has become recognized as a top performance marketing platform for Facebook & Instagram. StitcherAds empowers top brands such as Finish Line and Reiss to increase the revenue impact of their ad spend using data-fueled automation.

]]> (Declan Kennedy, StitcherAds) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 05 Nov 2018 09:20:21 -0500
The Eyes Have It: Visually Rich ‘Shoppable’ Instagram Content Tops Social Commerce Trends The Eyes Have It: Visually Rich ‘Shoppable’ Instagram Content Tops Social Commerce Trends

Social media’s impact on retail has been well-documented: as many as 76% of consumers have purchased a product they saw in a brand's social media post, according to Curalate. More than half of these purchases are ultimately made online — 11% of shoppers made the purchase immediately, while 44% later purchased the item online.

But not all social channels offer the same audience, reach or impact. It’s increasingly clear that the most visually oriented platforms are leading the charge to generate traffic, brand awareness and more sales. Retailers are being presented with valuable opportunities to deliver exclusive promotions on Instagram and Facebook, and Instagram may be the true wild card here — traffic on the platform is projected to grow 3X faster than overall social traffic, according to Salesforce.

Some of Instagram’s strong growth potential comes from the platform’s efforts to improve “shoppability,” an area where social networks as a whole have lagged. As many as 78% of retailers in the apparel, department store, big box and specialty sectors — and 41% of 400+ brands — have shoppable Instagram accounts, according to the 2018 Gartner L2 Social Platforms and Influencers Intelligence Report. Beauty companies rank second, at 68%, while activewear is not far behind at 61%.

In fact, shopping has become so intertwined with Instagram that the social network has reportedly been developing its own stand-alone e-Commerce app. The proposed app, called IG Shopping, will let shoppers browse and purchase items from retailers they follow.

Burberry is one of the latest retailers to launch an Instagram campaign with the unveiling of its monthly “B Series” product releases. On the 17th day of every month, these products are made available for 24 hours, exclusively through Instagram, China-based WeChat, Japan-based Lin and Korea-based Kakao. The items will not be available in stores or on

“Culturally, there’s the idea of FOMO, or getting in on something while you can,” said Laura Davis-Taylor, Principal Consultant of Retail Experience Strategy at HighStreet Collective in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “It’s 24 hours and you’re out. Burberry is trying to connect with the younger consumer, and trying to get out there to where the shopper is. It’s about how you use these different tools to create the behaviors you’re looking for.”

Facebook May Lack ‘Shoppability’ But It Does Have The Biggest Audience

Instagram’s parent, Facebook, offers a very different story when it comes to shoppability. In fact, only 17% of brands have adopted shoppable Facebook brand pages, according to Gartner L2. Retailers lead the way at 29%, while consumer electronics brands (such as Apple, Samsung, Lenovo and Sony) were second at 22%. These shoppable pages display content including a “Shop Now” button, which often takes users directly to the product on the e-Commerce site.

Facebook took a big hit to its reputation in 2018 with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, so these figures could be rooted in consumer concerns about privacy and data security. As many as 71% of shoppers are concerned about security, while 65% admitted that privacy was an inhibitor to social shopping, according to a study from Sumo Heavy Industries.

Despite the recent negativity surrounding the platform, Facebook is still growing at an 11% year-over-year clip. It remains the largest social network in the world, with 2.23 billion monthly active users globally in Q2 2018, and has a growing user base of people aged 40 and up in the U.S. that can’t be ignored.

“More of the 40+ high-income shoppers are on Facebook now,” Davis-Taylor said. “Given that Facebook and Instagram are intertwined, you can gather better data analytics from Facebook and you can do stronger targeting. There are people who are actively buying off Facebook feeds.”

Retailers arguing the merits of Facebook vs. Instagram should be aware that there may be a youth-oriented bias against Facebook. There are likely to be “youth users behind these decisions who say: ‘I don’t use Facebook.’ Well, other people do,” said Davis-Taylor. “These 40s and 50s buyers still have as much buying power as some of the younger Gen Y and Z customers that are so digitally inclined.”

As Instagram User Base Reaches 1 Billion, Content Becomes Bigger Priority

Instagram’s growth has skyrocketed over the past two years, lending further credence to the idea that it should be a top social media choice going into 2019. While the network had 600 million monthly active users in December 2016, that number has since jumped to 1 billion as of June 2018.

At the time it announced this growth, Instagram launched IGTV, the video application designed to enable users to upload vertical videos that are up to 10 minutes long, or up to 60 minutes if the business or user is verified or popular. The app could be a major selling point for retailers seeking more context exposure and brand awareness, especially on a more mobile-friendly platform.

During a Gartner L2 panel discussion of fashion brands, Scott Lux, VP of Digital at Intermix, noted that retailers must have a “publishing mindset” when approaching social media, particularly given Instagram’s growth. In an age when retailers must commit to content-driven initiatives across all channels, investments in production studio talent remain imperative for retailers seeking to create compelling visuals for social channels that thrive on them, be they Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook.

“There’s a headline I read in an email newsletter that basically said: ‘Instagram killed the fashion magazine,’” Lux noted. “That sums up the challenge that brands are facing. Now we’re having to create ‘fashion magazine’-type content to push to our paid and organic channels through Instagram. That’s where it’s difficult, because you don’t necessarily have that editorial talent on staff and you have to make that determination — do you build to that or do you leave that to your brand partners?”

The rise of more visual social channels coincides with the growing effectiveness of user/consumer generated content (CGC). Visual CGC saw a 55% year-over-year increase in conversion lift in 2017, as well as a 96% interaction rate among shoppers, according to Bazaarvoice.

Retailers have recognized the benefits of visual CGC, according to the survey:

  • 87% say it leads to increased conversions;
  • 91% say it fosters a more engaging shopping experience; and
  • 88% say it improves brand trust.

By incorporating CGC into shoppable social channels or product pages, retailers essentially give consumers a better chance to build a closer relationship.

“I’ve even gotten to the point where I’m pushing my retail clients using in-store digital signage to use consumer-generated content because it’s authentic and it’s real,” Davis-Taylor said. “It doesn’t cost anything.”

QVC-HSN Parent Launches Social-Powered ‘Micro-Brands’ On Facebook And Instagram

As more retailers grasp how to use social media effectively, they may feel encouraged to build niches within various platforms. In the case of Qurate Retail Group, the retail giant is choosing to create channels that are largely separate from the remainder of its digital operations.

In July 2018, the parent company of the now-combined HSN and QVC launched two beauty “micro-brands” — Ellie Sugar and Fuss Beauty — via dedicated Facebook, Instagram and minimalist web pages. Unlike most retailers and brands, these “micro-brands” are only advertised on social media platforms, and consumers can only interact with them via Facebook and Instagram posts.

Ellie Sugar and Fuss Beauty feature a curated marketplace of beauty products selected from the Qurate portfolio to appeal to targeted consumers, with “thumb-stopping” video designed to catch the mobile shopper’s attention. Both brands’ Facebook and Instagram channels include shoppable content as a central value proposition.

“These platforms provide a gathering place for engaged beauty consumers and influencers and serve as marketplaces for the Qurate Retail family of beauty products across QVC, HSN and zulily,” said Mike George, President and CEO of Qurate Retail Group during a recent earnings call. “Paid social, which is our biggest increase in the mix of online marketing, is actually a higher lifetime value than those direct traditional methods, which to us is remarkable.”

While George admitted that it’s “hard to scale paid social efficiently,” Qurate is in the process of launching two more fashion brands – Du Jour at QVC and Curations at HSN – with this social-first strategy, according to a company statement. With these new brands in tow and Qurate furthering its paid social marketing spend, it’s clear that the company values social as a venue for product discovery and customer acquisition.

Twitter Lags As A Shopping Channel; Value Lies In Customer Service

Twitter never truly caught on in the shopping arena, as many had hoped when “buy buttons” first became a hot topic a few years ago. But the network clearly has value in customer service: as many as 83% of retailers use Twitter for customer service, up from 74% last year, according to Gartner L2.

Nearly 80% of tweets across 400 brands analyzed were replies to customers, the report said. In total, more than 70% of brands across all sectors use Twitter to answer questions or address concerns, an increase from 66% last year. The site is convenient for shoppers seeking immediate brand access, and it comes at a low cost for retailers — unlike major technologies such as chatbots.

Despite this increased adoption, fashion retailers and brands are still staying away from the platform, with only 33% using Twitter for customer service in 2017 — presumably in a bid to uphold their brand equity.

Always Remember: Social Strategies Should Meet The Consumer Where They Are

As the holiday season gets underway, retailers must leverage the continued growth of Facebook and Instagram to promote their products, deals and brand experience, while optimizing Twitter as a primary customer service channel. Additionally, now is the time to bring a sense of social exclusivity, so that the shopper can interact with the newest, most unique aspects of the brand at all times.

“Social is where the conversation exists right now,” said Andre Balazs, Digital Programming Director at Revlon during the Gartner L2 panel discussion. “It’s on Instagram, it’s on YouTube, that’s where the customers are. For example, the brands right now that are very successful are successful because they are part of the conversation in that space, and they are able to drive people into their digital channels and get them excited to enter the store.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Social Thu, 01 Nov 2018 08:53:48 -0400
Etsy, Target Top Halloween-Related Social Chatter Etsy, Target Top Halloween-Related Social Chatter

With Halloween lurking creepily around the corner, retailers are making last-minute preparations to capture their share of a projected $9 billion in consumer spending. But social media conversations may provide omens about which retailers will generate the most revenue throughout the shopping day. The retailers attracting the most social engagement as of Oct. 16, according to data from Crimson Hexagon, include:

  • Etsy: 607,773 posts;
  • Target: 273,821 posts;
  • Amazon: 123,178 posts;
  • Walmart: 76,432 posts;
  • Party City: 24,264 posts;
  • Hot Topic: 33,691 posts; and
  • Urban Outfitters: 8,268 posts.

Crimson Hexagon examined online conversations from social media platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, as well as Reddit, online forums, articles, blogs and comment sections to learn how consumers are talking about Halloween shopping in 2018.

Retailers selling candy and costumes can gauge the popularity of products based on these social conversations. For example, more than 200,000 social posts in 2018 included mentions of classic costumes such as vampires, ghosts and zombies, compared to nearly 30,000 “sexy costumes,” 18,000 superhero costumes and 19,000 TV characters.

The social chatter leading up to Halloween 2018 reveals a divergence in costume trends from last year — classic costumes make up approximately 70% of the total share of social conversation, well above the nearly 60% share last year. Classic costumes have been becoming more popular as sexy costumes have been losing popularity, from approximately 20% social share in 2017 to 10% this year.

Overall, shoppers discuss costume purchases on social media far more than any other in October 2018:

  • Costumes: 128,158 posts, (59% share)
  • Candy: 48,935 posts, (23% share)
  • Decorations: 23,456 posts, (11% share)
  • Alcohol: 13,522 posts, (6% share)

Product Publicity Is Not Always Positive

In measuring social media posts, retailers need to know that context is vital to understanding consumer sentiment around a product. Over the last five Halloween seasons, candy corn has been the subject of nearly 280,000 posts5X the number of the next most-talked about candy, Milky Way at almost 50,000.

But the divisiveness of candy corn’s taste appears to be the main conversation driver. Candy corn had a positive sentiment score of 39%, but a negative sentiment score of 24%, making it the most despised candy over the last five years, just ahead of Laffy Taffy (23%) and Mounds (23%). Milky Way had a positive sentiment score of 36% but had very little negativity surrounding it (9%).

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 18 Oct 2018 16:22:14 -0400
Exclusive CEO Q&A: How Nike Wins The Branding Game Erich Joachimsthaler VIVALDI CEO 225pxNike’s hiring of controversial quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick was a gamble, but it’s one that paid off handsomely. The company sold out 61% more merchandise in a 10-day period following the Kaepernick ad’s initial appearance, and the company got a 31% online sales bump. But if other brands want to emulate Nike’s success by embracing hot-button issues, they will need to carefully consider their own brand’s public profile before taking the plunge, according to branding expert Erich Joachimsthaler.

“Nike is a very special brand, one that stands for this level of irreverence, as well as athleticism, winning, authenticity and inspiration” said Joachimsthaler, CEO of global brand strategy firm Vivaldi. “Nike is fearless, and taking a stand has become part of their DNA.”

In this exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints, Joachimsthaler explains:

• How branding has moved from differentiation and image to creating connections and promoting virality;
• Why campaigns, particularly controversial ones, require constant monitoring of sentiment and “social currency” to succeed; and
• The potential dangers of choosing a celebrity spokesperson.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): In these polarized, highly partisan times, can it be a good business move for a brand to take a strong stand in the way that Nike did?

Erich Joachimsthaler: In my experience I have recommended that clients not engage in political causes. Nike has earned the permission to take strong stands, because they are seen as being fearless. A lot of other companies become convinced that they need to do something — someone from social media convinces them about their responsibility, or the CEO has a relationship to a particular cause. But just because you can take a stand doesn’t mean that you should.

The brands that are doing extremely well right now are those that have learned about the new principles of branding, and that are able to establish a direct connection with consumers and a constant interaction. Nike is doing it with their direct-to-consumer activities, including selling on Amazon. They are shifting their business model to be more like Casper, which also has a direct connection to consumers.

RTP: How have the basic principles of branding changed in recent years?

Joachimsthaler: The whole industry, including branding, marketing and advertising, has been in disruption during the past 20 years. All the great brands, like Nike, BMW, Apple, were built in a world of walls, where the brand was designed to create a veneer of differentiation around the product. The truth is athletic shoes are commodities, but branding allowed people to imbue them with certain beliefs and feelings. When you play basketball wearing Air Jordans, it makes you feel that you are like Mike, the flying man from Chicago — that you can actually jump higher. BMW said their car was not just about German engineering, it was the ultimate driving machine — that it conferred a level of sportiness, technology and performance that would cause envy in your neighbors. These are examples of classic branding.

The idea then was to define what the brand stood for, and then to shout your brand value from the rooftops as loudly as you could. You would spray and pray — spray your advertising via commercials, and then pray that consumers find themselves in a retail store.

Today, though, we’re in the world of webs and networks, where billions of people globally are connected by mobile phones and there are thousands of channels for advertising. There are new types of networks, for example networks of gamers playing Fortnite, as well as social networks — Vivaldi came up with the term ‘social currency.’ Now brands are there to make a connection, create some virality and facilitate some kind of movement.

RTP: How does the latest Nike campaign illustrate these changes?

Joachimsthaler: You can see this very nicely with Nike. One thing to note is that Colin Kaepernick, not Nike, was the first one to announce that he would be the Nike spokesperson. It came from him, not Nike. Nike then began looking at the social networks, looking not just at how the brand performs but how the conversation performs. I’m sure that at the moment Kaepernick made his announcement, at Nike’s social media/digital command center in Beaverton they were looking at sentiment scores, both positive and negative, by age group, by demographics — and based on all of that they decided to wade into this.

They saw that older white men hated this — and to that Nike would say ‘We don’t care about older white men.’ They saw that people 35 and younger liked it overwhelmingly, and they would say ‘Cool, that’s our target market.’ Nike would be looking not only at how many Americans are divided on the issue of kneeling during the national anthem, but how many of their target market are for or against it.

Based on that, Nike then says ‘Here’s what we must do to spread the fire and create virality, and make the networks work for us.’ They were creating the connection and the action, essentially making people vote in favor or against this. Even a negative vote would be good for them, because it meant they were tapping into something important. Within a day or two, Nike could say ‘We are hitting on the cultural zeitgeist of this country.’ And remember that this was a full two years after the kneeling issue began! But that’s how branding works today. It’s a managed process.

RTP: In general, what kinds of calculations do marketers need to make when they consider hiring a celebrity, particularly a controversial one?

Joachimsthaler: In general when you take a celebrity, you have to assess your downside risk a lot more. We know from research that when a celebrity transgresses, the brand they’re associated with can be significantly negatively affected. But it also depends on the sponsor’s product and how it relates to the spokesperson.

Take the example of the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. Several years ago a picture of him supposedly smoking marijuana in a dorm room was released. He had an endorsement deal with Oakley goggles. In this case, the goggles are a functional device to improve the speed at which you swim, so the implication is that Michael Phelps wins gold medals because he uses Oakleys. When there’s a transgression and the sponsorship is performance-related, this can have a significant impact on the product’s sales.

On the other hand, Lance Armstrong had been sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service while he was winning the Tour de France, though he was under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. The delivery of mail isn’t related to Armstrong’s performance, so even though Lance Armstrong went down, this didn’t necessarily affect the sponsor’s brand.

]]> (Adam Blair) Trend Watch Wed, 10 Oct 2018 08:59:59 -0400
Holiday Predictions Webinar: Mobile, AI Product Recommendations Will Shine Holiday Predictions Webinar: Mobile, AI Product Recommendations Will Shine

Mobile has been growing fast during the past few holiday seasons, and it’s projected to hit a major milestone in 2018: more e-Commerce purchases will be made on mobile phones than on any other device during the season. That’s just one of the predictions offered by leading analysts at Salesforce, drawing on a global study of 500 million consumers creating more than one billion shopping visits.

“In the 2018 holiday season, there will be more mobile visits than all the e-Commerce visits on any device in 2015,” said Caila Schwartz, Business Intelligence Senior Analyst at Salesforce. Schwartz and Rick Kenney, Sr. Director, Strategy and Insights at Salesforce provided a look back at holiday 2017 and predictions for 2018 during the Retail Strategy and Planning (RSP) webinar, titled: Holiday Predictions: What To Expect Based On Data From 500 Million Shoppers.

[Read recaps of the other RSP sessions here.] 

Top Recommendations For Holiday Prep

The Salesforce speakers made several recommendations for retailers seeking to maximize sales and profitability this year:

Don’t wait to kick off holiday promotions: By Dec. 3, 2018, consumers already will have completed 50% of their online shopping;

Front-load your hottest Cyber Week deals: Cyber Monday has continued to lose ground to Black Friday, and even Thanksgiving, as a major shopping day. The entire Cyber Week will generate 33% of the holiday season’s e-Commerce revenue;

Streamline mobile shopping: Encourage use of mobile wallets, particularly during peak periods and deploy mobile checkout technologies in stores;

Expand use of AI-generated product recommendations: 35% of all digital revenue this season will come from shoppers clicking on a product recommendation; and

Feature Instagram in your social strategy: The speakers predict Instagram will grow 3X faster than social traffic overall this season, and Instagram Shopping offers multiple opportunities to connect social shoppers to a retailer’s product pages.

“Mobile will make the registers ring this year,” said Schwartz. In 2017 mobile accounted for 61% of e-Commerce traffic and 40% of order volume, but Schwartz predicts those figures will climb to 68% and 46% this year — and reach even higher on peak shopping days.

Brick-and-mortar stores are still relevant, but they are affected by mobile’s growth as well: 83% of shoppers aged 18-to-44 reported using their phones in stores. “The challenge is bridging the physical and digital realms,” said Schwartz. “Retailers are using stores to entice shoppers, with store-only promotions and even beacons to guide shoppers. This makes sense since 46% of people still prefer shopping in a physical store.”

Adding a friction-free mobile payment option, such as a digital wallet, can take advantage of what shoppers prize about mobile: its convenience and immediacy. “Johnston & Murphy did a ‘soft launch’ of Apple Pay, and even without much promotion it was used for 15% of mobile orders during the first weekend,” said Schwartz. “Shoppers sought it out and found it, and these Apple Pay users spent 90 fewer seconds on the site than other visitors.”

Go Ahead, Make A Recommendation

During Black Friday 2017, personalized product recommendationsdrove 30% of all e-Commerce revenue. Recommendations are particularly useful at this time of year, when people often are buying items for others rather than themselves.

“Don’t bury your product recommendations,” said Kenney. “When they are placed between product descriptions and reviews, they can generate a 14% increase in conversion rate and a 25% higher add-to-cart rate.”

Two offerings that are not optional for retailers are promotions and free shipping. During the Black Friday-to-Cyber-Monday period, 31% of digital retailers offered discounts and 84% touted free shipping. However, retailers can (and should) adjust their offers throughout the holiday season: “After you get through Cyber Monday, the figures are closer to a typical non-peak period,” said Kenney. “There are more opportunities for retailers to get outside of the ‘noise’ of promotion.”

Giving Tuesday, which follows Cyber Monday, is one of those opportunities. Retailers including Burton, Adrianna Papell and vineyard vines use charitable donations to “engage with shoppers on a different, more meaningful level,” said Kenney.

Social networks, particularly Instagram, provide retailers with other opportunities to influence shoppers rather than use a hard sell. “Instagram Shopping is a great way to connect shoppers to products quickly and easily,” said Schwartz. “We’ve seen Carter’s promoting outfit ideas to new parents and Pier 1 providing gift guides.”

Some retailers are bringing their social media influencers out of the social realm and “directly into the digital experience,” said Schwartz. “On the Yeti web site, social shoppers can follow these influencers’ journeys and make direct product purchases.”

The Salesforce webinar is available on-demand; all the RSP sessions are accessible here.

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Mon, 24 Sep 2018 17:19:56 -0400