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10 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty Without a Points Program

If you want to level up your customer loyalty initiatives beyond a points program, we've put together ten tips that can help.

Francesca Nicasio

Content Strategy Manager

Loyalty is everything. In an increasingly competitive ecommerce market, brands are constantly vying for customer loyalty, for good reason: loyal customers are often the most profitable. 

Plus, one of the best ways to tap into earned media (like word-of-mouth advertising, which most consumers trust above other advertising methods) is through—you guessed it—stronger customer loyalty. 

Perhaps the most common way businesses try to foster brand loyalty is through a points program. However, if companies simply provide a cut-and-dry rewards program and call it a day (as opposed to a spend-based loyalty program or VIP program), it can make customers feel unvalued or not like VIPs. 

In addition, if a program is solely about the points, it may fail to differentiate itself from other more competitive programs in the market. 

Industry data shows that just 18% of rewards program members actively engage with all the programs they're a member of, showing how some rewards programs may offer too little value to the customer. Oof. 

If you want to level up your customer loyalty initiatives beyond a points program, we've put together ten tips that can help.

Let's get started!

 


 

1. Set up email and SMS automations focused on bringing customers back

Email and SMS marketing are great ways to increase customer loyalty, as you can reach customers directly through their inboxes and mobile devices.

For best results, send triggered messages based on certain behaviors or actions your customers take. For example, you could send a message to a customer who hasn't made a purchase in a set amount of time or provide a voucher or discount as a way to say thank you after someone has made their first purchase. 

Pinjarra Bakery is an excellent example of a business putting email and SMS marketing to good use. The company uses Marsello to power various campaigns that entice people to come in.

“We send out an SMS blast to our loyal customers first or our loyalty customers first giving them first access to come in and try the product before we release it to the public,” Daniel explains. “And of course, we conveniently time the blast to go out around lunchtime so people are probably getting hungry that time of the day and so far the results have been great.”

Limited-Time-Pinjarra-Bakery-SMS-next-to-man-eating-a-pie-1

Another idea is to reward your customers' birthdays. You could track birthday purchases and the rate of redemption—all of which is valuable data that can be leveraged for more tailored marketing down the road.

Easy-to-implement options include sending a one-time special discount or a freebie via text or email. Just make sure to use unique codes to track the effectiveness of your automations.

2. Setting up targeted segments

Did you know that the average email open rate is just 21.5%? To make your emails more relevant, segment subscribers into different groups or categories based on criteria like location, age, or behavior. By doing so, you can better cater to each segment through the content and deals you offer, intrinsically creating more value for your customers. 

Oh, and as a pro tip, consider using your subject lines to gauge interest in new products and themes you're considering offering.

3. Foster a strong community incidental to your brand

A brand community, when done right, is a way to rally together your most loyal customers or people who are the most interested in what you have to offer. Communities bring people together, which drives loyalty through shared experiences, meaningful connections, and a sense of belonging.

Marsello customer Pace Athletic is a master at community-building. The company has a run club that includes social jogs for all fitness levels. These run events end at local pubs where members can socialize, relax, and build friendships over a meal or drinks.

See if you can implement similar initiatives in your business. If you run a game shop, you could consider running a monthly board game night at your location. Brewery? Maybe a recurring beer tasting event or a pub quiz. Whether you want to keep it casual or more formal, brand communities are a great way to tap into brand loyalty and customer advocacy.

4. Offer exclusive access and early releases

Never underestimate the power of exclusivity. By fostering a sense of unique value or desirability—either by offering limited availability or exclusive access—brands can tap into the age-old desire of customers wanting to get something that's hard-to-get. 

You can use this to your advantage by targeting your top spenders or frequent purchasers and creating a segmented campaign. Reward them with access to exclusive events, pre-sale access to limited edition items, or other similar events. 

Take, for instance, Nordstrom, which gives members of The Nordy Club (the company's loyalty program) early access and extra discounts at sales events.

the nordy club - loyalty example

5. Start a referral program

To start things off, assign each consumer a unique referral code. Then, when they share your business with their friends, you can see if a purchase or subscription was made through the code and offer the customer (and maybe even the referred person) a reward. We recommend offering rewards that aren't point-based, like a free product or exclusive discount.

Also, make it easy to refer others: consider including a template with their unique code that customers can copy and paste. By reducing the friction around referrals, you'll make it easier for your brand to harness the power of earned media.

6. Provide valuable content and resources

Another great way to build customer loyalty is by creating content that's both informative and helpful for your customers: all with your own branding, of course. 

Let's say you run a makeup or beauty company: you could do TikTok or Instagram user-generated reviews of your products, do tutorials on how to apply certain products, or make a Q&A video about frequently asked questions. 

When you offer tips, guides, and tutorials on topics your audience cares about, you position your company as an expert and drive brand awareness by playing the long game.

7. Collect customer feedback

The best way to improve and understand customer satisfaction is through feedback, and what better moment to get feedback than right after a purchase? You can consider offering a small perk like free shipping on their next order as a small incentive, but what's crucial is to make it easy for your customers to provide feedback and to ensure they don't feel pressured into doing so. 

Marsello's customer feedback capabilities allow shoppers to provide input with just a few clicks, so the experience is effortless.

Check out this example from Madame Fancy Pants, which uses Marsello's customer feedback capabilities to create a simple, visually appealing survey so customers can quickly rate their shopping experience.

Marsello-Madame-Fancy-Pants-Customizable-Feedback-Survey

Already have customer feedback? Be sure to act on it to improve your retention strategies. And don't forget to proactively inform your customers about any changes and updates you've made so they feel heard and seen.

8. Create a customer-centric culture

Improving customer loyalty isn't just about what you put out there—it's very much an inside job. The people in your business play a crucial role in fostering customer loyalty, so you need to instill the value of customer-centricity in your teams. 

You can do this by providing ongoing training and development focused on customer service to keep folks at the top of their customer support game. 

A great example of this in action comes from Zappos, which has built a reputation for exceptional customer service. The company provides extensive training for their employees, including a four-week program that emphasizes the importance of customer satisfaction. This commitment to training has helped Zappos achieve a high level of customer loyalty and a strong brand reputation.

Another example is Pace Athletic, who run a regular running club for their community. Why we love it? Pace Athletic live and breathe what they do - a running club is a natural extension of their brand, and a way to connect on a deeper level with their customers and followers. 

The Pace team don't organize a running club to generate sales (at least not directly). But it does drive brand awareness and sales as a result. When their community build deeper relationships with the Pace team, they want to come in-store and ask for the staff's recommendations, suggestions and pointers. They want to support their local business, and the people behind it.

If you are passionate about what your business sells and what you represent, building community will come relatively easily. But it does take time and requires a commitment, so don't be disheartened if you don't see the revenue impact right away.

 

9. Invest in unique products and services

People stick with retailers and restaurants that consistently provide products and services they won't find elsewhere. So, strive to deliver unique and high-quality offerings to all of your guests. 

If you're in retail, this can come in the form of trendy fashion or homeware products that enhance your customers' lives. If you're a restaurant, this could mean offering exclusive and innovative dishes, sourcing locally grown and fresh ingredients, or creating a unique dining experience with exceptional ambiance.

When you do this consistently, you build a loyal customer base and differentiate yourself from the competition.

10. Implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives

Doing good is good for business. Industry data shows that consumers are more likely to choose brands that promote CSR aspects like sustainability. According to Neilsen, "a whopping 81% of respondents said that it's extremely or very important that companies implement programs to improve the environment. When it comes to action, 73% said they would either definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment."

To that end, it may make sense for your business to develop sustainability programs that focus on reducing environmental impact. This could include minimizing waste, using renewable energy, and sourcing sustainable materials.

Of course, CSR isn't just about sustainability. Social responsibility also encompasses societal issues like fair labor and community. So if these values align more with your brand, start exploring ways to support social causes. For instance, the brand TOMS partners with non-profit organizations that work on various societal issues, including access to mental health resources, community rehabilitation, and education.

TOMS initiatives - loyalty examples

Before you begin...

To ensure that your customer loyalty approaches are paying off, you must track key metrics regularly. Otherwise, you run the risk of investing significant time and money for no result. While you may not need to track all of the data points below, familiarize yourself with them and check in with your marketing team to determine which ones are the best for your organization. 

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This measures customer satisfaction and loyalty based on how likely customers would recommend a product/service to others on a scale of 1-10. Detractors are 0-6, while Promoters are 9-10. A score over 50 is generally good, while above 70 is great.
  • Customer Retention Rate: The rate at which your customers stay with you over a specific period, which reflects the effectiveness of your loyalty-building efforts. Make sure you balance this with customer acquisition strategies.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This is an indication of the total revenue expected from a customer over their entire relationship with a brand. It's a great way to identify more valuable customers and assess the long-term value of customer loyalty programs.
  • Repeat Purchase Rate: The proportion of customers who make repeat purchases, which indicates ongoing customer engagement and loyalty. Customers with a high RPR should be targeted when launching new products or services.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This provides immediate feedback on customer experience and loyalty; it's the average score given when you ask customers how happy/satisfied they were with an experience.

While this isn't an exhaustive list, tracking some (or all!) of the above metrics will put you well on your way to quantitatively understanding how your brand loyalty efforts are paying off.

Final words

We've covered a lot of ground looking at the top ways your business can foster customer loyalty without needing a points-based program.

While you don't need to implement all of these at the same time, we recommend trialing out at least a couple of these methods and seeing what sticks. Most importantly, this shouldn't be a "set it and forget it" approach. You need to stay attuned to the feedback received and stay in the know on industry best practices. This way, you'll be ahead of the curve and continually improve customer loyalty. 

If you're looking to create an omnichannel loyalty program that offers real value, Marsello has you covered.  From SMS and email marketing to loyalty and referral programs, Marsello can help you from start to finish.

Speak to an expert today.

 


 

Need help? Get advice from a loyalty expert and start driving repeat sales.

Speak to an expert

 


 

Read more: 7 Steps To Building A Profitable Loyalty & Rewards Program

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    How to create customized automated campaigns to drive sales

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    Custom automations are perfect for requesting reviews, offering a post-purchase service or a timely cross-sell. Read more to learn how to use this feature.

    Retailer using Custom Automations to trigger an automated email to all their customers in 2 days time.

     

    Custom Automations are here! Now, you can easily design and enable your own custom email and SMS automations, giving you full flexibility with your automated marketing campaigns. By pairing this new feature with Marsello’s other tools, such as RFM Segmentation and your loyalty program, you’ll be able to create the perfect email flow or SMS Campaign that stands out and sees results.

    With Custom Automations, the options are endless. Automate campaigns that send to specific customer segments or trigger when a customer makes a purchase. Automated flows are perfect for requesting reviews, creating a referral email series, offering a post-purchase follow-up service or a timely cross-sell, just to name a few ideas.

    Let’s check out an example of a retailer who’s seen success using Custom Automations. 

     

    Home Goods Hardware encourages window shoppers to complete a purchase

    Window Shoppers can be notoriously tricky to convert to loyal customers. This hasn’t dissuaded Home Goods Hardware, though. The beautifully branded homewares store, based out of Australia, was one of the first to create a Custom Automation and we love their ingenuity.

     

    Email that welcomes customers by saying, “Thanks for joining the family” and offers them a 15% off discount on their first purchase.”

     

    The campaign features just one simple email that welcomes customers within the Window Shoppers (those who’ve created an account with the store but not completed a purchase) segment and encourages them to make a purchase with a 15% off discount code. With a 49% open rate and 7.5x ROI, Home Goods Hardware are reaping the rewards of automated marketing and we love that they’re doing so by targeting smaller customer groups. There are only 512 customers within their segment and with a 4.2% conversion rate, they’re really making the most of a potentially forgotten customer group.

     

    Read more about Home Goods Hardware’s success with Custom Automations.

     

    To create a similar style of Welcome Newsletter to Home Goods Hardware, try customizing and enabling the “Welcome Newsletter Sign-ups” template found at the bottom of your Automations admin. This easy-to-use template is set up to target customers who’ve only just signed up (1 hour after they’ve created an account), and encourages them to make a purchase by offering a 10% discount. Customers then exit the flow when they have made an order or the flow ends. 

    Let’s take a look at how you could use Custom Automations.

     

    Integrating customized automations into your marketing

    First thing’s first, the Custom Automations feature isn’t restricted to email campaigns! With the incredible open rates of SMS marketing (as much as 5x that of email marketing), they’re a powerful tool to add to your marketing campaigns. 

    This isn’t to say that email marketing is anything to be sniffed at! With a drag-and-drop email builder, customizing your emails to showcase your brand and products is as easy as selecting what content you’d like to include. 

    As we mentioned, Custom Automations are perfect for asking customers to leave reviews, incentivizing referrals, following up with customers after they’ve shopped, welcoming customers who’ve shopped recently, and more. Let’s break down some of these ideas

    • Requesting Reviews – The ins-and-outs of requesting reviews and customer referrals are quite similar when it comes to defining an audience; you’ll want to target customers who are loyal and have shopped recently. Add a delay to your automation that targets customers 5-7 days after their purchase, giving them time to receive the product (if bought online) and use it. Make sure to be clear where you would like them to leave a review too! If you use social media most often, add your Social Icons with the email drag-and-drop builder. 

    • Incentivizing Referrals – Much the same as requesting reviews, target loyal customers! Try setting up your automation to target customers who have shopped recently (last 5-7 days), and shopped more than three times. Remind them that this is an easy way to earn loyalty points and that their friend will also receive a gift too (ensure you’ve enabled your referral program within your Loyalty Program settings).

    • Post-purchase Follow-ups – If you’ve got a product that needs to be replaced regularly (subscription-based beauty products would be one example), you could create an automation flow that reminds customers to refill their order after three or so months. 

    • Welcoming Customers – Welcome new customers who’ve not yet made a purchase. Similar to Home Goods Hardware’s campaign, you could target customers who have signed up within the last day but not yet made a purchase, Each message within your flow could incrementally offer your customers a slightly higher discount, encouraging them to make a purchase. Alternatively, you could simply customize and enable the Welcome Newsletter Sign-ups automation which is found within the Automations tab of your Marsello admin.

    Let’s delve into the actual set-up of automated flows to help you understand these ideas a little better.

     

    Setting up your Custom Automations

    You’ll find Custom Automations under the ‘Automation’ section of ‘Marketing’ within your Marsello admin. Once you’ve elected to create a Custom Automation, you’ll have a range of options that that help you set up your automation flow.

     

    The creation of an Automated Campaign which requires the selection of Email, SMS, Points or Time Delay.
     
    1. Name your automation. While your customers won’t see this, it will help you to find the automation within your admin and adjust or track its results.

    2. Choose your trigger. Depending on what trigger you select, this will dictate how your customers enter the automation’s funnel. This essentially means that your customers must complete a specific action to receive your automation. Your trigger options include:

      • When an order is completed – When a customer makes a purchase, they will enter the funnel for your automation.

      • When a customer enters a segment – When a customer has been added to the segment because they have met the segment conditions. This is where your Custom Segments come in useful and allow you a lot of flexibility with marketing to specific customer groups.

      • When a customer signs up – When a customer has signed up via the POS, eCommerce, or an email collection features. 

    3. Choose your audience. Select which Customer Segment(s) you want to target with your automated campaign. Not only can you opt to use the pre-existing RFM segments found in Marsello, but you can also create your own segments. For example, if you wanted to create a campaign to say, “thank you for your first purchase” that’s specific to just your online customers, you could create a segment that specifically excludes customers who shop in-store. The beauty of custom segments is that you can really drill down into specific sets of customers and create targeted marketing that not only sees results but really engages those customers and helps to foster their loyalty to your brand.

    4. Choose your ‘exit conditions’. These are the conditions which specify when a customer will leave the flow. There are two options, which include: 

      • ‘When a customer makes an order or completes the automation flow’ – This is the default setting and ensures that the customer will leave the flow when they complete a purchase, or (if they do not complete a purchase) they will receive the entire automation flow. This condition is best used when the goal of your campaign is to incentivize customers to make another purchase.

      • ‘When a customer completes the automation flow’ – Automations with this exit condition will deliver all messages within the flow to the customers, regardless of if they make a purchase or not. This condition is best used when the goal of your campaign is to build a relationship with your customers, encourage loyalty or provide education.

    The options don’t end there when it comes to customizing your Custom Automation. Let’s take a look at the finer details of setting up your automation flow.

     

    How to customize your automated flow

    As we mentioned, with Custom Automations, you aren’t just restricted to email marketing. Why not follow up an email with an SMS to really make use of those powerful open rates? Perhaps a time delay could help improve your open rates by positioning your messaging at a better time for all customers? 

    For clear instructions on how to add-to and customize your automation flow, we’ve created an in-depth help article.

     

    In-app window showing that retailers must set their custom automation settings.

     

    This part of the customization process will allow you to add time delays, emails and/or SMS to your automation flow, as well as making it simple for you to award loyalty points. Details of each of these additions are as follows:

    • Time Delays – Adding time delays to your flow will enforce a delay between the end of the previous step (usually when the first message is delivered), and the next is due to send. It’s best to ensure a decent delay time to give your customers time to view your first message; we recommend around 48 hours.

    • Emails   Add an email as a step in your flow. It’s common to add a time delay before adding a new email to your flow. Once it’s added, customize your email to suit your messaging, branding and goal.   

    • SMS – Add an SMS as a step in your flow. As with email, it’s common to add a time delay before adding an SMS to your flow. Remember, SMS customization is more restricted than email and there are some content requirements that you’ll need to ensure you take note of. Check out the Custom Automation help centre article to help you craft an undeniable SMS addition to your campaign

    • Loyalty Points – Adding loyalty points as a step will automatically add a specified amount of points to your customers’ accounts. Simply input the number of points you’d like to award and select how you would like to let your customers know that they’ve accumulated points. 

    Let’s check out an example of a retailer who’s seen success using Custom Automations.

     

    Final words:

    Looking forward to creating your first Custom Automation? Check out our Custom Automation help centre article to help you create powerful automation flows that your customers will love.

    We’d love to see what Custom Automations you come up with – if you have an automation flow that you’re proud of, feel free to let us know by contacting us in our website chat window. 

    This feature is now available for all MarselloPro users. Not a MarselloPro user? Upgrade or sign up today to access Custom Automations and many more exciting features.

     

    Create Custom Automation

    Discover Email Campaign Templates Designed for Customer Engagement

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    Create consistent, recognizable, and beautiful emails with previously designed email templates! Learn how to navigate Marsello's Email Templates Library.

    With a variety of options to choose from, Marsello’s Email Campaign Templates Library gives you numerous designs for creating stylish newsletters, announcements (such as sales and promotions), updates on stock, and more using the One-off Email Campaigns feature! Each template is designed so you easily create beautifully on-brand emails that see results, without hours of effort and edits.

    Let’s dig a little deeper and learn about each template type.

     

    Basic Templates

    With full customization available, the basic email templates allow you to edit the design of each email so that it best suits your store’s brand, helping your customers to instantly recognize who they’re receiving mail from. You’ll have the flexibility to create emails that truly embody your store without having to start those email designs from scratch.

     

    Marsello's in-app email template library with 6 templates

     

    Themed Templates

    Created by professional designers with years of experience in email marketing, these templates are ready for you to simply add in your store’s branding and relevant content, review, then send! With everything from color palettes to fonts, themed templates are designed to do the hard yards for you.

     

    Marsello's themed email templates within the app

     

    Custom Templates

    This is where things get really exciting! You can now create your own custom templates, allowing you to save the designs of emails you know your customers love so that you can use those designs again in the future. Either save a previous campaign as a template or start from scratch and create your own email marketing masterpiece. 

     

    Marsello's in-app email templates with custom themes.

     

    Final Words

    Email templates allow you to easily replicate the same style throughout your communications and create a recognizable experience for your customers. In turn, your customers look forward to your emails and the likelihood of them engaging with your communication efforts increases. Increase your email marketing ROI and start exploring and designing emails that excite new shoppers and loyal customers alike.

    Excited to start using email templates? Learn how to navigate Marsello’s Email Template Library and get ready to start using them for yourself.

     

    GET MARSELLO

     

    Re-opening Your Store After COVID-19

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    Read about how improving your store's marketing and practices could be the secret to a busy period once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

    Blog banner featuring a store worker changing an Open sign.

    How to Kick Off Strong When the Pandemic is Over

    Have you started planning for your store after lockdowns and ‘shelter at home’ orders are lifted?

    While it’s true that much of the world is still on lockdown, there will come a time when stores will be allowed to open their doors once again. In-store sales will start picking up again as foot traffic increases, and the merchants who are adaptable and have plans in place for any changes to shopping patterns will be in a much better position to continue selling well beyond the pandemic lockdown. 

     

    That’s why it’s never too early to start planning. If you take proactive steps to market and improve your business during this period, you could hit the ground running when the coronavirus pandemic is over; even if that means that your store stays online, embraces omnichannel, or you have to adapt your business model. 

     

    Here are some suggestions on what you can do to prepare your store for emerging from lockdown.

     

    Stay in constant contact with your customers

    Whether or not you’re selling at the moment, it’s crucial that you keep in touch with your customers. Doing so helps you stay top of mind so that when shoppers are ready to make purchases, your store will automatically be on their radar. 

     

    The types of messages that you send will vary depending on the state of your business, but here are some ideas.

     

    Online product launches

    If you have new products in stock, find creative ways to launch (or re-launch) them digitally. Put out teasers, create email and social media campaigns, and try to generate as much excitement as possible. 

     

    Need an example? Check out this email from, T.C. Elli’s, which lets their customers know that they’re launching new products, and they’re doing so in an innovative and exciting way considering the circumstances around COVID-19 – They’re hosting a live video launch!

    T.C. Elli’s Live Videos One-off Campaign

    This clever email also allows T.C. Elli’s to capture customer information for a wide range of their customers, helping them to increase their marketing reach in the future. 

     

    Offers and promotions

    If you’re still open or are currently selling online, continue emailing your subscribers about any sales or offers you have going on. You can make your offers more relevant by either running promotions on items that shoppers are likely to buy or by segmenting shoppers based on their brand interactions and activities. 

     

    Consider the case of Lightspeed & Shopify retailer, The BCode, a Havaianas and Skechers shoe distributor. Rather than sending out generic email blasts to everyone, The BCode makes use of customer segments. For instance, in the summer, they launched a campaign specifically for customers within their "loyal segment," and were able to convert 13.79% of subscribers – that’s way above the industry average. 

    An email from The BCode the showcases their products and gives a product explanation.

    Company updates

    People want to know what’s going on in your business, so keep shoppers posted on important updates to your company. Have you made any changes to your staff’s work arrangements? Do you have new policies in place? What can customers expect from you during these times?

    Have a look at this email from Australian retailer, OnceWas

    An email campaign from OnceWas providing customers with a COVID-19 store closure update.

    The OnceWas team uses a simple design to compliment a clear and concise message: that their Hampton-based brick-and-mortar store has temporarily closed as a direct result of COVID-19. But they don’t just leave the communication there, they go on to offer customers a styling service that encourages shoppers to stay engaged with OneWas and keep making purchases. OneWas further reinforces this objective by adding a link to new arrivals and encouraging their customers to ‘explore’. 

    OnceWas’ COVID-19 related update cleverly encourages customers to keep shopping, rather than dissuading them and that’s a powerful marketing strategy to have in their toolkit. Beautiful design and clear communication are a winning combination in getting customers to keep shopping with you, and OnceWas have mastered this! 

     

    Tighten up your existing systems

    If you’re experiencing downtime due to the coronavirus, take this as an opportunity to tighten up all the operational tasks that you’ve been putting off. 

     

    Here are some ideas:

     

    Count and reconcile your inventory 

    Keeping your stock in check can fall to the wayside especially during hectic shopping seasons. Doing a full inventory count takes several hours (sometimes a couple of days) and many stores can’t set aside that time when they’re busy selling. 

    So if you currently have some time on your hands, now is a good opportunity to really get a handle on your stock. Count your items so you can make sure that the inventory levels in your system match what you have in your physical store or warehouse. 

     

    Streamline manual tasks

    Identify tasks that you’re still doing by hand, and find ways to automate them. 

    For instance, if you’re running a manual loyalty program that involves physical stamp cards, you could look into more modern solutions that allow you and your customers to track and redeem rewards easily. 

     

    Sales and inventory are two other common areas that small businesses should also look into. Many SMBs are still using pen and paper to track stock movements and revenues. If you’re one of them, it’s high time that you switch to a cloud-based POS and retail management system that automatically does that for you. 

     

    Streamlining manual tasks not only saves you a ton of time, it reduces human error and can also help grow your business. Switching to a modern loyalty solution, for instance, doesn’t just make it easier to run your rewards program, it also gives you the ability to offer better rewards and get to know your customers, which ultimately boosts shopper retention and revenues. 

     

    Integrate different platforms

    Already using modern software in your business? Make sure they’re tightly integrated. 

    Let’s say you’re running an online shop and a brick-and-mortar store. In this case, you want to connect your POS system with your eCommerce platform, so that sales, inventory, and customer data flow easily between the two solutions. 

     

    You can even add in a loyalty integration, so you can run a rewards program seamlessly across online and offline channels. And now is the perfect time to start rewarding your customers who have shopped during retail restrictions, thereby encouraging those customers to keep coming back to your store long after you’ve come past lockdown.

     

    One retailer that’s doing this well is Bulo Shoes, a retailer that runs a fully-integrated and robust retention strategy that runs across their online and brick-and-mortar stores.

     

    “We linked Marsello to our online and physical stores with a loyalty program and automated email marketing, making it easy for us to communicate with customers regularly and to offer them rewards that keep them coming back," says Silas Gomez, eCommerce manager at Bulo Shoes. 

     

    “With the recent COVID-19 developments, we have been able to direct our customers to our online stores and keep them updated with any changes.”

    Bulo Shoe's loyalty program's online widget.

    Bulo Shoes’ integrated strategy has paid off tremendously. The company is seeing 27x ROI by interlacing a generous loyalty program with a cleverly curated email marketing strategy.

    Bulo Shoes also has a 13% repeat purchase rate across all their stores; they're seeing an engagement rate of 45% and they've generated over $7,800 in reward redemptions alone. 

    Keeping your physical and digital stores in sync means you never have to worry about double-selling products and you can provide a more seamless and rewarding shopping experience to your customers.

     

    This is just one example of how you can integrate the apps in your business. Depending on the software you’re using, there are plenty of other solutions that you can connect, including:

    • Accounting software

    • Payment processor

    • Staff management

    • Reporting and analytics

    The easiest way to connect your platforms is to use add-ons. For example, if you’re selling online, you can research the apps that your shopping cart integrates with. 

     

    That said, if you can’t find direct integrations, you can use a solutions like Zapier and IFTTT, which enables you to connect various apps together. 

     

    Check out our recent blogs on top apps for Shopify and BigCommerce & Lightspeed and save yourself the times spent researching.

     

    Leverage data

    It’s best to make data-backed decisions when planning for your re-opening, particularly when it comes to what products to market and sell. 

     

    Admittedly, COVID-19 makes this task a bit tricky. While historical data still has some value, it may not be as reliable, given the drastic changes that have occurred. 

     

    That said, there are a couple of things you can do that can help you determine your sales and marketing strategy going forward.

     

    Engage in social listening

    Pay attention to what your customers are saying online and on social media. What have they been up to? Have they developed new interests? Are there any products or services in particular that they’re looking into?

     

    The answers to these questions can shed light on insights you can use when making stock, purchasing, and merchandising decisions for your re-opening. 

     

    Look into search trends

    Use tools such as Google Trends and Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for online. What keywords (related to your vertical) are seeing more searches than usual? 

     

    Uncovering those search trends can take some digging, but you might discover useful nuggets along the way!

     

    See what people are wishing for

    If you have a wishlist feature on your website, you can use that to figure out what people want to buy. Dig into your wishlist data and use it to determine which products to market and sell.

     

    When you combine the above with historical data and traditional demand forecasting, you’ll be able to effectively plan your assortment and sales initiatives. 

     

    Re-open with a splash

    Re-opening your store is a big deal, so it’s fitting that you make your relaunch… well, big. Create a huge campaign around your grand re-opening. 

     

    Rather than just putting your “OPEN” sign back up and hoping people will come in, proactively implement strategies to drive traffic.

     

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Launch celebratory offers and sales

    • Hold an in-store event complete with giveaways and swag bags

    • Email local press or influencers in your area to generate buzz

    • Market your grand reopening to email subscribers

    • Create a lead-up-to-opening campaign on your social media

    • Consider paid social media advertising to boost awareness

    Implementing a combination of the above tactics will allow you to open with a splash. And when you combine these steps with the data-backed insights that we talked about above, you’ll be able to maximize traffic and sales. 

     

    Re-emphasize health and safety

    Consumers will start shopping again, but they will likely be more cautious going back to brick-and-mortar stores. 

     

    Alleviate your customers’ concerns by communicating and enforcing extra health and safety measures. These measures will depend on your specific store, but will likely involve something along the lines of:

     

    Encouraging space between shoppers

    Maybe you need to keep your store displays and fixtures farther apart to give people more space to move around. You could also encourage physical space at the checkout counter by putting markers on the floor that are six feet apart, so shoppers know where they should stand while waiting in line.

     

    Limiting physical contact

    You could limit contact between customers and employees through things like self-checkout as well as by keeping your staff lean. You could also limit the number of people who can enter your store at any given time.

     

    Added cleanliness and sanitation practices

    Clean and sanitize your store often. Give extra attention to high-touch areas, such as popular product displays and the frequently visited sections of your store. If you have baskets or shopping carts, wipe them down before each shopper touches them. 

     

    And whatever measures you decide to take, communicate everything to your customers. Display prominent signage in-store and include your policies and action steps in all your customer communications. 

     

    For best results, use a reassuring tone in your messages. For instance, when emailing customers about your grand re-opening, craft a message that strikes a balance between promotional and reassuring. You want to welcome customers back to your business while making them feel safe and confident that they can shop at your store. 

     

    It’s never too early to prepare for retail’s bounce-back

    While no-one knows for sure when retailers can open their doors again, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Laying the groundwork today will put you in a position to succeed tomorrow and beyond. 

     

    Let us know in the comments how you’re planning to re-open your store and excite your customers. Good luck and stay safe!

    How to Encourage Ecommerce Sales Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

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    To help you navigate post-pandemic retail and knock it out the park, we’ve compiled some tips on using online channels to encourage sales and engagement.

    No matter what type of retail store you have, there’s a high chance that your business has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Cities all over the world are enacting ‘Safer at Home’ orders and quarantine measures, and these actions have left many retailers no choice but to temporarily shut down their physical operations. Some countries are even requiring businesses to close unless they’re deemed an essential service.

    With most consumers staying home, it’s quite evident that the only way to reach them is through digital channels.

    Here are some tips on how to use online channels to encourage sales and engagement during this period.

     

    1. Keep your channels tightly integrated


    If you have an existing brick-and-mortar store and want to bring your sales online, the first step you should take is to integrate your online and offline systems. 

    Doing so will help you set up your sales channels correctly, so your inventory and sales data will be synced between your physical and online stores. Plus, you’ll save time from having to re-enter your product information and you can eliminate human error due to doubling up on data entry. 

    It’s best to use systems that are already compatible with each other, so get in touch with your POS solution provider and ask them about the eCommerce platforms that they integrate with. Be sure to discuss the types of data that are synced between systems and talk to your provider about how to get set up quickly and efficiently. 

    For best results, choose solutions that can also connect to your marketing software, so you can seamlessly launch email, SMS, and customer engagement campaigns for driving sales. 

    Pro tip: Did you know that Marsello integrates with leading POS and eCommerce platforms? Connect Marsello to your existing solutions so you can easily automate your loyalty marketing efforts and deliver a seamless customer experience.

     

    2. Promote relevant products


    The needs of your customers during the current coronavirus health crisis have shifted, so your marketing has to evolve along with these changes. Part of doing that involves promoting products that are relevant to what your shoppers are experiencing. 

    Go through your current catalog and look for items that consumers need at this time. For example, if you’re a furniture retailer, then now would be a great time to promote your office products, since most people are working from home. Selling books or gift items? Look for products that people would help people navigate what could be a high-stress situation.

    Here’s an example from the crystal store Energy Muse. Since many people are experiencing coronavirus stress and anxiety, Energy Muse recently sent out informative content on how to use the crystal Black Tourmaline to alleviate negative emotions.

    What’s good about Energy Muse’s message is it led with informative content. Rather than a hard sell, the email’s first call to action took people to a video in which Energy Muse’s founder-led viewers through a guided visualization to relieve stress and anxiety. 

    And should people choose to purchase the crystal, there’s a second CTA towards the lower part of the email. 

     

    Energy Muse uses a one-off email campaign to communicate clearly with their customers.

     

    Note: While this tactic can be effective, your marketing efforts shouldn’t be exploitive. For example, if you’re an apparel retailer that’s suddenly selling hand sanitizer, you’ll only forge distrust with consumers – and potentially get your ads banned.  

    Sites like Facebook are prohibiting exploitive tactics in ads by banning promotions for things like face masks.

    If you’re planning to market relevant products, stick with items that are already in your catalog or ones that are truly in line with your brand. 

     

    3. Tap into influencer and community marketing


    Digital content consumption is likely to increase in the coming days and weeks as more people turn to the web. Consumers are spending more time on websites and social media – with most doing it to pass the time, keep up with the latest news, and seek inspiration and entertainment.

    Consider tapping into that online attention by teaming up with influencers or even your existing customers. Send them product samples or create joint content pieces together. 

    Encourage your community to tag you in their posts. Emphasize the fact that with many businesses being forced to close, customer engagement (even if it comes from no-cost actions like liking or sharing posts) goes a long way. 

    Check out this post from home decor store Pretty Little Home, which thanks customers for the support that the community has shown the business. 

     

    Pretty Little Home uses influencer marketing to reach out to more customers.

     

    “Whether it’s a like, tag, share, or order on the website... It really means the world especially at a time like this,” read the post. 

     

    4. Spread the goodwill


    We’ve known for a while that good deeds and corporate social responsibility can drive customer engagement and loyalty. That’s why if your business can afford it, consider launching an initiative designed to help those in need during this crisis. 

    It can be a charitable campaign, a special offer for the less fortunate, or even a job opportunity. One brand that’s doing this well is the fitness store Gymshark. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many gyms have been forced to close their doors, resulting in trainers and fitness instructors losing their source of income. 

    To help out, Gymshark announced that it’s offering an hourly rate to personal trainers struggling to find work. Trainers would be doing online workouts in partnership with the brand and earn money while they’re at it. 

    The post was widely shared on Instagram and thousands of people liked and commented on the post. 

     

    Gymshark offers personal trainers a covid-19 deal.

     

    5. Constantly reassure your customers


    Building trust is more important than ever. You won’t be able to drive sales if shoppers don’t feel safe and secure buying from you. That’s why you need to constantly reassure your customers about the health and safety precautions that you’re taking to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.

    How often are you cleaning and sanitizing your store? What are you doing to protect your staff? What measures are you taking to protect your customers? Be specific and outline everything in your customer communications assets (e.g., email, social media, in-store signage). 

    A good example of this practice in action comes from LA Cafe in Downtown Los Angeles. While the restaurant is closed to diners, LA Cafe still accepts online orders that can be picked up or delivered. 

    To make people feel safe about ordering, LA Cafe published a detailed post outlining everything that it’s doing to address COVID-19 concerns. 

     

    The LA Cafe uses Instagram and social media to communicate COVID-19 changes.

     

    6. Run promotions


    If sales are slow (and they likely are during this period), it may be a good idea to run a promotion to entice people to buy. 

    Do note that you’ll be competing with plenty of other brands for shoppers’ attention, so you want your promotions to be as relevant as possible. The best way to do this is to send offers based on each customer’s shopping history and brand interactions. 

    Consider the case of the designer footwear retailer Bulo Shoes, which couples Marsello's loyalty program with email marketing automation to send marketing messages that are always on-point. With Marsello’s help, Bulo Shoes’ automated emails are set up in segments based on customers’ previous behaviors. The store runs separate automated campaigns for first-time customers, abandoned cart recovery, lapsed customers, and to wish customers ‘Happy Birthday’. 

    By sending automated emails that are triggered by customers’ actions, Bulo Shoes are able to reach out to customers in the most relevant and timely way, and thus maximize both revenue and customer engagement.

     

    Bulo Shoes use automated emails to run promotions that target their customers following actions like making a purchase.

     

    What if you can’t sell or fulfill orders?


    The new measures and policies around COVID-19 have been particularly tough on SMBs that are deemed “non-essential”. In addition to store closures, some businesses have been forced to shut down their offices, facilities, and fulfillment centers to slow the spread of the virus. In such cases selling and fulfilling orders – even those made online – isn’t achievable at this time. 

    If you’re in this predicament, try the following tactics:

    Delay shipments and offer generous rewards

    If you can still technically sell online but are unable to fulfill orders, you could run special promotions to get people to buy. That’s what Madame Fancy Pants, a Wellington-based retailer is doing. Due to the coronavirus, the team at Madame Fancy Pants are unable to ship out products in the time being. But they’re still taking orders online, with the commitment to fulfill those orders once isolation measures have been lifted. 

    To encourage people to buy, Madame Fancy Pants sent out a one-off email campaign using Marsello. The email lets their customers know that Madame Fancy Pants will be rewarding shoppers with double loyalty points for their full-priced purchases.

     

    Madame Fancy Pants keeps customers up to day using Marsello’s One-off Email Campaigns

     

    Enable Wishlists

    Another tactic for keeping your customers interested and excited while you’re unable to fill their orders is to allow them to create wishlists of the items you usually stock. Check out our recent blog on top apps for Shopify for ideas on which apps you could use to integrate this feature into your store. 

    Wellington-based pet products retailer, Smack Bang, have done a wonderful job of communicating this recent update with their customers through their social media channels. Check out this Facebook post (note that they’ve even pinned it to ensure customers see the update) that lets their customers know that although they’ve had to shut up shop with the COVID-19 lockdown enforced in New Zealand, their customers can now create wishlists on the Smack Bang online store. 

     

    Smack Bang uses Facebook to let their customers know that they can now create wishlists.

     

    Consider digital products 

    If possible, sell digital products like ebooks, digital art, online consultations, or even courses. 

    One retailer that’s currently promoting digital products is Vroman’s, Southern California’s oldest independent bookstore. Like many other retailers, Vroman’s had to temporarily shut down its operations because of the coronavirus. 

    To continue driving sales, Vroman’s is encouraging shoppers to purchase its ebooks and audiobooks instead, and the bookshop provides instructions on how to do this on social media and on its website. 

     

    Vromans goes Omnichannel

     

    Sell gift cards

    If you’re not offering gift cards online yet, now is the time to sell and promote them. Digital gift cards give your customers the chance to support your business so you can secure much-needed income. In turn, your shoppers can enjoy your products and services once this crisis is over. 

    Consider the example of Pink Marble Studio, which offers lashes, nails, and waxing services. The company recently started offering gift cards online that customers can redeem at a later time.

     

    Pink Marble Studio offers gift cards

     

    Retail tip: For more results, sell these gift certificates at a discount rate to further entice your customers to make a purchase. 

     

    Keep up with social media and content marketing 

    Just because you can’t sell online, doesn’t mean you can’t connect with your customers. Maintain an active presence online by regularly updating your social media accounts and sharing valuable, ‘non-salesy’ content with your audience. 

    Doing so will help you grow your platform, traffic, and follower counts so that when business picks up again, you can hit the ground running. 

    We love this example from Australian wholefood retailer, Bare Wholefoods:

     

    Rough &amp; Bare uses Instagram to update customers and encourage them to keep shopping.

     

    Bare Wholefoods cleverly show that they’re still actively and safely delivering customers’ orders with a photo of outgoing orders ready for shipping. They add a message of genuine gratitude to their customers for their continued loyalty and support. Updates like this help customers to feel confident that they will get the products they’ve ordered, and also gives them the morale boost of knowing they’re helping support the local economy. 

     

    Notify customers with stock updates

    Chances are you’ll find that changes to shipping or production translate to slower restocking times – you may even find yourself out of stock or running low before you can restock, but there’s plenty you can do to keep your customers shopping with you.

    We’ve mentioned using wishlist tools that enable customers to create lists of items they’d like to buy that aren’t currently available, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Why not let your customers know when their desired items are back in stock and actively prompt them to shop with you.

    Online multi-brand retailer, The Iconic does a great job of this. When an item or size is out of stock, customers with a registered account are prompted to automatically at the item to their wishlist and sign-up for a ‘back in stock’ email, all through a beautifully designed pop-up. Notice the clever addition of product recommendations that may get customers to shop in that session anyway.

     

    The Iconic ties their Wishlist and Back in Stock tools to create a seamless experience for customers.
     

    It’s tough, but hang in there

    We know that the current retail environment can feel far from ideal. The best thing to do right now is to focus on things we can control. If you’re a retailer, these include your customer communications and marketing messages; do your best to stop on top of them, so you can keep driving sales. 

     

    7 Ways to Create Holiday Campaigns That Convert

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    Create compelling holiday campaigns with our 7 actionable steps. Learn from leading retailer examples and key takeaways.

    Email may not be the newest craze in the world of digital marketing, but it continues to prove itself as the most effective channel for omnichannel businesses, particularly during the holiday season. 

    As marketing powerhouse Neil Patel has mentioned, email has nearly three times the number of accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined – 2.9 billion! Campaign email marketing continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, however, it’s essential that any business owner or marketer understands the anatomy of a good email and takes note of evolving trends.

     

    Infographic showing conversion rates of email and social media marketing  – 6.06% for email, 1.9% for social.

     

    The popularity and effectiveness of email marketing are undeniable, and while that’s generally a good thing, it also presents one obvious challenge: because email is so popular, it can be difficult to stand out in the competition while staying true to brand messaging.  

    So how can you ensure that your emails make the cut? 

    To help answer that, we’re putting the spotlight on a handful of email promotions that you can use as inspiration for your own holiday marketing campaigns.

     

    Retention first


    Before you can start your holiday email marketing campaigns, it’s vital that you get your customer retention strategies sorted. Why? Because these are the long-term marketing tools that will keep your holiday season customers coming back throughout the remainder of the year. 

    Consider some of the following retention strategies:

    • Create an undeniable loyalty programloyalty programs reward your customers for completing purchases with you and considering the high-spend rates of the holiday season, they’re a powerful way to keep your customers coming back as they see the rewards quickly. Go one step further and add VIP tiers to keep customers excited about shopping with your store again and again. Offering customers seasonal rewards can also help them to feel appreciated during a busy and expensive season. If they feel rewarded for shopping with you, the chances of them shopping with you again increases hugely.

    • Automate your email flows – creating automated campaigns that trigger as a result of specific actions (or lack thereof) is a proven retention strategy. Examples of these include emails that welcome first-time customers (and include a discount); win-back emails targeting a customer who hasn’t shopped with you for a certain time period (usually around 60 days); abandoned cart recovery emails designed to draw customers back who added items to their cart but didn’t complete a purchase; birthday emails that trigger on a customers birthday and offers them a small reward and discount to thank them for their loyalty.

    • Forms – either embedding forms or creating them as pop-ups can help to capture customer details (namely emails) and funnel those customers into your direct retention marketing channels such as email campaigns and social media targeting

    • One-off email campaigns – whether you’re creating newsletters, stock updates, business updates, one-off sales, or even competitions, cleverly curated one-off emails should be a huge part of your retention strategy and are a powerful place to incorporate other tools like customer segmentation (we’ll get into this more, later). 

    • Customer feedback – show customers that you want their opinions, can take their feedback, and that you’re open to learning and growing with them. It’s important that your customers feel listened to and appreciated, and gathering customer feedback is a proven way to do this.

    • Boost your best email campaigns – So you’ve diligently created a beautiful holiday marketing strategy and you’ve crafted the email and SMS campaigns to match. One way that you can ensure they get in front of more and more of your customers is to give your campaigns a boost. This is where you essentially send the same campaign to those who have no opened the email after a set amount of time, but with a new subject line.

    Learn more about Marsello's features

     

    Incorporate themes into your emails

    This may sound obvious, but many merchants continue to send uninspired and generic emails during the holidays. Don’t be one of them! Write and design your emails in such a way that they embody the holiday that you’re celebrating while staying true to your brand and excite your customers along the way. 

    So if it’s Christmas, your campaigns should reflect the joy and cheer that people experience around the season. If you’re sending emails for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, then your design and messaging should bring about excitement and a sense of urgency. 

    Go through your marketing emails and ask yourself the following questions:

    • Do they contain key holiday terms? (e.g., ‘gifts’, ‘happy holidays’ or ‘it’s Christmas’)

    • If not, have you considered adding a seasonal emoji to make your message more in line with each holiday?

    • Is your color palette in line with the holiday you’re celebrating but also complementary to your branding? (e.g., black and white for BFCM, red and green for Christmas)

    • Is the design of your email relevant to the season?

    • Is the written and visual content of your email relevant to the season?

    • Are you positioning your products as holiday purchases? (e.g., ‘Dresses for your next holiday party’ vs just ‘dresses’)

    Here are a few holiday email examples you can use as inspiration.

     

    OSMOSE creates an immersive theme for Chinese New Year

    OSMOSE, a Singapore-based specialist in women’s fashion, knew that Chinese New Year was the perfect holiday to market to their current customers. The overarching theme of their email was the color red, which is considered a symbol of luck and prosperity during the hugely popular holiday. In fact, red is the official color of Chinese New Year. They encourage email recipients to “paint your wardrobe red” to “welcome a prosperous new year”. Check out their gorgeous customized email flow below.

     

    Osmose's chinese new year themed featuring red-themed outfit ideas.

     


    Area 51 keeps customers informed with holiday season in-store hours

    When the holiday season came nearer last year, Area 51 took the opportunity to remind their customers of their hours over that season, but they also sweetened the deal by offering 20% to their online customers, making sure their customers knew that online shopping at Area 51 was still an option.

     

    Area 51's holiday opening hours
     
    Brandini Toffee creates a holiday-themed product
     

    Brandini Toffee knows the importance of personalized marketing and carefully curated customer service – and they know that these two things go hand-in-hand. To encourage customer engagement and create a personalized, holiday-themed shopping experience, Brandini created a Christmas product called ‘Red Box’ which included 1lb and 2lbs of their famous toffee. They then made the deal all the sweeter by adding free shipping on orders over $70.

     

    Brandini Toffees Red Box email campaign offering free shipping

     

    Alex and Ani positions their existing merchandise as gifts

    Alex and Ani took one of their mainstay products and positioned it as a holiday gift. With the adorable content, beautiful design that fits their branding, and their three top products, Alex and Ani curated a stand-out email sure to be successful with their new and returning customers.

     

    Alex and Ani created a holiday gift guide on their website

     

    Allbirds offers a holiday-themed giveaway to incentivize purchases

    Last Christmas, sustainable sneaker company, Allbirds, went above and beyond in offering customers a festive deal – they created a festive-themed version of one of their products: Christmas shoelaces. These were added as a special offer for customers who shopped during the holiday season, but not before customers were reminded to make sustainable choices with their gift-giving and purchases. We love the way they’ve included their branding, marketing, calls to action, and ethos into one snappy and beautiful email.

     

    AllBirds email saying 'give cosy, get creative' on a grey background with a 'shop now' CTA.

     

    UGMONK created a holiday gift guide with clever segmentation

    When UGMONK released an email gift guide last year, they didn’t just stick to the mainstays of ‘gifts for mom’ or ‘his & hers’ organization. With guide sections such as ‘cozy comforts’ and ‘mountains’, they were able to curate a guide that would appeal to anyone.

     

    UGMONK's holiday gift guide

     

    PRO TIP:Did you know that Marsello's holiday email flows come with seasonal templates? No need to design an email from scratch; just take on of our best-practice templates, designed to keep your customers coming back, and then tailor to your business.

     

    Personalize your campaigns

    A well-written and beautifully designed email won’t be effective if the content is irrelevant to the recipient. That’s why you should always incorporate personalization into your campaigns

    Studies show that eCommerce emails with personalized subject lines have 29% higher open rates so really it’s a no-brainer – personalization and loyalty go hand-in-hand. And with the growth of email marketing (expected to reach an astounding 4.3 billion users by 2022!!), you should be utilizing every tool at your disposal to help you increase open rates and stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

    So consider incorporating tricks and tools like customer segmentation, purchase history included in email content, and wish lists. Being able to easily tailor the content of your messages to each user will help you to reach them on a personal level and improve customer engagement drastically.

    Take a leaf out the playbooks of these companies:

     

    Yuccs uses clever customer segmentation to target different groups

    Spanish shoe designer, Yuccs, are leaders in creating stylish, comfortable sneakers that bridge the gap between function and fashion. Because of this, they have a clear vision for their brand and how they present it to their customers. During the holiday season, Yuccs created a similar email campaign but with notable differences that catered to two separate audience segments: loyal customers and Facebook leads!

    Both emails were Black Friday-themed and both were marketing the same products, however, the images and messaging were designed to cater more to the specific customer groups. Loyal customers were given the benefit of the doubt with ‘you already know’ messaging. They were encouraged to make the most of undeniable holiday prices and get organized for Christmas. Meanwhile, the segment created from Facebook Leads received an email that encouraged them to make a purchase and convert to loyal customers with the message “take advantage of our most exclusive discounts of the year”.

     

    Yuccs' holiday campaigns with 'loyal' and 'facebook leads' customer segments highlighted.

     

    Federation + recommends products that shoppers might like based on their browsing activity

    Federation + is an infamous streetwear brand in New Zealand, and a large part of this is their dedication to forming a distinguished, stand-out brand that excites customers both in-store and online, creating a seamless omnichannel shopping experience.

    Good email marketing stands out while also encouraging customers to convert. It’s that simple. There are plenty of tactics to mastering this, and one of the simplest is using smart product recommendations. Federation + does this by adding a product recommendations block to their welcome email, encouraging customers to make a purchase with a 10% discount, followed by showcasing products that are similar to the others that customer has viewed and that customers like them have previously purchased.

     

    Federations automated Welcome email overlaid on a black background

     

    Barebones recommend products based on previous purchases

    If you’re marketing to existing customers, then use their purchase data in your product recommendations. This is a good way to show customers that you’re paying attention to their shopping habits. And if you implement this strategy in a friendly way (like what Barebones is doing in the example below), you’ll encourage people to continue shopping at your store.

     

    An email from Barebones that offers customers 60% off with an end of season sale.

     

    PRO TIP: Marsello's holiday email flows make it easy to send personalized product recommendations. Simply drag and drop the product widget onto your email, and it will automatically populate with the top 3 items that your customer is likely to purchase, based on their shopping history, and the shopping histories of customers like them.

     

    Create campaign

     

    Run compelling and creative offers

    In an age when numerous brands are vying for shopper attention, it’s imperative that you craft offers that are both compelling and creative. 

    There aren’t any one-size-fits-all promos that would work for every campaign, as your offers would depend on your customers, merchandise, and objectives. For example, if you’re trying to move slow-moving inventory, then multi-buy promotions (e.g., “BOGO,” Buy 2 get 1 free, etc.) would be the best offer type. On the other hand, if the goal is to increase order values, then conditional offers (e.g., “Free shipping on orders over $75”) would be a better way to go.

    Have a think about the right type of offer for your campaign, and once you’ve decided on the type of promotions to run, inject holiday some themes to make them relevant.

    Consider the following:

     

    Flynn Skye shows shoppers how much they’re saving

    You know what they say, showing is better than telling. Apparel retailer Flynn Skye puts this nugget of wisdom to good use by creatively “slashing” their product prices. Check out the image of their email below and you can clearly see the original price crossed off and replaced with their promotional pricing.

     

    Flynn Skye advertise for cyber monday on their store with a colourful photo showcasing one of their dresses
     

    Fossil uses some holiday puns

    Last year, accessories store, Fossil, created vibrant and on-brand emails with a cute differentiator – a stand-out, festively decorated pun. They wished that their customers “have a tree-mendous holiday” and then drew attention to their early access sale and perks such as gift wrapping. 

    Witty content, cute imagery, on-theme colors, and simple design make this email stand out to customers and invites them to shop.

     

    Fossil sends customers the message 'Have a Tree-mendous Holiday'

     

    Girlfriend Collective runs a giveaway

    Meanwhile, the team at Girlfriend Collective ran a giveaway and used email marketing to promote it. The subject line was direct to the point and powerful: “Free stuff! (It’s giveaway time.)” and the body of the email touched on the holiday season, with the lines like: “The holidays are stressful. Giveaways aren’t.”

     

    Girlfriend's Giveaway Alert email campaign offering customers a holiday season freebie

     

    Animate your emails

    A cool way to stand out is by incorporating a bit of animation in your messages. Why not insert a moving GIF image in your holiday messages, to really get them to pop? Have a look at the following example:

    Búl’s Colorful Flash Sale

    We love the way Australian retailer, Búl, uses GIFs and block coloring to stand out while staying on-brand. Check out their gorgeous spring sale email (leading into the Australian holiday season)! It not only showcases their beautiful clothing but also their stylish email design is simple, easy to understand, and clear in intent. And it’s so simple! P.s. notice their addition of Afterpay, allowing customers to ‘wear now, pay later’. A fantastic way to entice customers into making a purchase now.

     

    Bul uses colorful GIFs to advertise an upcoming flash sale

     

    The Vans Holiday Gift Guide GIF

    Vans really know how to stand out with their customers when it comes to creating the best holiday emails. They took the opportunity to stand out and show their creative “off the wall” brand with a GIF featuring a skater and some subtle holiday imagery. While this may not be great for mobile optimization (which is incredibly important for avoiding spam filters), Vans is a hugely popular retailer which means they have a little bit of freedom to play with less-optimized email content because their customers are likely to recognize their emails.

     

    Van's Off The Wall uses a GIF to advertise their holiday gift guide

     

    Instill a sense of urgency

    Urgency can give your promotions an extra boost, so find ways to use it in your campaigns. Things like a looming deadline or fear of missing out (FOMO) can really drive people to act.

    Use these emails for inspiration:

    BioLite reinforces that sense of urgency with sale dates

    Being clear about your sale terms and timing can give your customers the sense that they should buy sooner rather than later for fear of missing out.

    BioLite has created this sense of urgency by reminding their customers exactly when their sale ends and leaving that reminder in bold. They’ve then gone the extra mile and suggested some of their categorized top picks.

     

    BioLite's Labour Day Sale announcement banner on their website marketing 15% off.

    Udemy uses a countdown

    Want to get more visual with your FOMO messaging? Countdowns can do wonders. If you’re running a promotion that’s approaching a deadline (ideally 24 hours or fewer), throw in a working countdown in your emails so recipients know exactly how much time they have left before the deal is gone. 

    Here’s a great example from the online course provider, Udemy:

     

    Udemy's Cyber Monday countdown timer
     

    Optimize the timing of your campaigns


    Timing may not be everything, but in email marketing, it’s pretty darn important. Showing up in someone’s inbox at just the right time can mean the difference between a conversion or a missed opportunity, so optimize the scheduling of your emails as much as possible. 

    The best way to do this is to rely on your subscribers’ data. Pay attention to when people are opening your messages and visiting your website, so can determine when to schedule your emails. 

    Read our email marketing best practices guide to learn more about suggested timing.

     

    Take me to guide

     

    Evaluating previous campaign performance can also help. Do morning emails work better than messages sent in the afternoon? What about weekdays vs. weekends? Go through your past campaigns and see if you can spot patterns around timing. 

    Industry data can also offer insights that you can use in your campaigns. Does your email marketing provider have any data on which email time-frames work best?

    Below is an excellent case study of email timing optimization done right:

     

    eBags increases conversions by 65% thanks to timing optimization

    Online luggage supplier, eBags, decided to switch up their email schedules by optimizing their timing based on when each subscriber signed up to their list. 

    According to Econsultancy, eBags "carried out research based on the hypothesis that if users were available to sign up to an email list at a certain time, then they would be far more receptive to receiving an email at the same time as when they signed up.”

    The experiment proved to be a success. As Econsultancy reports, eBags saw the following results after the experiment:

    • Increased click-through rates by 20% 

    • Increased conversion rates by 65% 

    • Increased average order value by 45% 

    • Increased overall revenue per recipient by 187%

    The moral of the story? Well, there’s a couple! Don’t be afraid to experiment based on your customer data, and optimize your emails to suit that data. If you know that you see the best results from emails that are scheduled for 10 am on a Tuesday, then schedule away! If you’re not sure when to schedule your emails, fret not …

    Marsello analyzes the shopping habits of customers at your store (and at businesses similar to yours) and then recommends the best time to send your emails.

     

    Final words

    Email marketing can elevate your campaign performance, but only if you do it right. To boost your marketing success this holiday season, keep your messages relevant and personalized and throw in some compelling offers for good measure. To top everything off, optimize the scheduling of your messages you can get in front of your subscribers at the perfect time. 

    Run Retargeting Facebook Ads to Your Custom Audiences to Maximize ROI

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    Read the first in our Marsello Mini-Series to learn how to export your customer segments and run retargeting ads to shoppers who are most likely to convert

    thumbnail3-01

     

    Did you know that you can use Marsello to improve your Facebook ads? On average, it takes around eight touchpoints to convert a cold lead into a buyer, so utilizing retargeting ads alongside your other marketing channels makes for a truly powerful combo! Just follow the steps below to export any of your customer segments and run retargeting ads to shoppers who are most likely to convert. 

     

    Infographic: Customers who see retargeting ads are 70% more likely to convert

     

    Fun fact: Visitors who are retargeted with ads are 70% more likely to convert.

     

    Step 1: Create a custom audience
    Log in to your Marsello app, select the ‘Customers’ section in the navigation menu, and then click on ‘Segments’.

     

    Select ‘Create Segment’ to start building your audience. To use an example, let’s say you have a popular collection of items in your store called ‘The Blue Series’. You’ve just added a new product to the collection, and you can’t wait to let your customers know!

     

    PRO TIP: Pair an email marketing campaign to this segment with your new Facebook ads to ensure that you interact with your customers wherever they happen to spend time online.

     

    Try building out an audience of people who’ve purchased from your ‘Blue Series’ in the last few months, like so:

     

    The 'Create a Segment' page in Marsello's app

    When you’ve included all the conditions you need, click ‘Save and Create Segment’. 

     

    If you need help creating a segment, check out our Help Center article here for more info.

     

    Step 2: Export your audience

    Once you’ve saved your new segment, go back to your ‘Segments’ dashboard, find the one you just created, and click ‘Export Segment’ from the drop-down menu, which will start a download of a CSV file with your new, custom audience!

     

    PRO TIP: Facebook will only serve ads to audiences of a certain size, so try to create an audience of at least 1000 emails so Facebook can match as many as possible to its users.

     

    Step 3: Import your audience into Facebook

    Open up Facebook Ads Manager, and go to ‘Audiences’ from your navigation bar:

     

    Facebook Ads manager

    From there, click on ‘Create Audience’, and select ‘Custom Audience’.

     

    Select ‘Customer File’, then ‘Use a file that doesn’t include LTV’. Upload the CSV you exported from Marsello, and hit ‘Upload & Create’. 

     

    Step 4: Create an ad campaign to target your new audience

    It will take Facebook some time to match the emails you uploaded to users on its platform, but you can start building your ad campaign while the audience is populating.

    In Ads Manager, click the green ‘Create’ button and start designing your Campaign. Once you’re at the Ad Set level, click into the ‘Custom Audiences’ block and select the audience you just uploaded. 

     

    Once you’ve set all your audience filters, continue to the ad level, write up some killer copy to convert your customers, upload a captivating image, and hit ‘Confirm’. 

     

    Your brand-new Facebook ad campaign will start running once the audience has populated at least 1000 users, so you can sit back, relax, and watch those sales start rolling in! And remember, don’t be afraid to use more than one channel to market to your segments. 

     

    Export a custom audienceGET MARSELLO

    SEO Series Part 3: Common Mistakes SEO Mistakes for Retailers to Know

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    Solve common SEO mistakes before ever even making them with Part 3 of our SEO mini-series.

    In this article, we’ll be talking about the common mistakes online retailers make when optimizing their websites for search. Many eCommerce retailers make errors during their quest to improve their SEO without realizing it. They end up sabotaging their own efforts in small ways; small errors can build up over time to become a major barrier to their top-of-page-one aspirations.

    How to improve your retail store SEO ranking

    Fortunately, fixing these isn’t as complex as you might think; a few quick adjustments will have you on the way to a higher ranking in no time.

    Read the points below and see if you’re making these mistakes on your website:

     

    Mistake 1: Not optimizing your product URLs

    URLs might seem like a minor consideration, but they are extremely relevant to eCommerce SEO; this is because they play a significant role in how Google indexes each page of your site.

    The URLs of your product pages should help search engines to work out how the different parts of your site relate to each other. This is especially important for your broader product categories (e.g. ‘dresses’). You want these categories to rank well because this is how your potential customers can access your catalog from the search engine results page (SERP).

    Even the biggest eCommerce sites still make persistent errors in this area. See below this link from the clothing giant H&M:

     

    H&M product page url

     

    Would you be able to tell what the item was by looking at this URL? No chance. It contains no keywords, so it’s only by clicking that you’d know the item is a V-neck dress. This is exactly the kind of link you want to avoid; it looks messy and chaotic, so no one is likely to click on it.

    A messy URL also makes your site more difficult to navigate. If your customers can’t retrace their steps back to other parts of your site by reading your URLs, there’s a good chance that Google will struggle as well.

    What to do instead: focus on website hierarchy

    Your links should be offering a solid road map of your site. An optimized link would follow this structure:

    https://example.com/category/sub-category/product

    The pet care retailer Bobbie Dogs has a great URL structure – their URLs have a logical flow from the broader elements of the website (e.g., homepage, category pages, etc.) to the more specific parts (e.g., the product in question).

    As such, both Google and shoppers alike will find it easier to understand what the page is all about. Check out their URL below and note the logical mapping of data within the URL; it’s easy to follow, understand and remember.

    Bobbie dogs url
     
     

    Mistake 2: Keyword stuffing your product titles and descriptions

    In SEO, keywords make the world go round, so it’s a smart idea to incorporate them into your web copy. And since product descriptions make up a sizeable chunk of your on-site content, it makes sense for you to optimize them with the right search terms.

    Product descriptions help Google determine the relevance of your pages in response to a search query, so it’s vital that they show up on the search engine’s radar.

    But trying to write for Google instead of your customer through keyword stuffing will make your copy look stilted and awkward. Plus, the practice can really hurt your rankings because the clunky sentences make it look like you aren’t trying to be informative.

    Here is a prime example from a listing on Etsy:

     

    Keyword stuffing in an Etsy store product listing

     

    This description is very wordy and dense, using the keyword ‘top’ multiple times. It also uses far more descriptors than necessary, making it more likely to confuse customers than inform them.

    What to do instead: Sprinkle in keywords and don’t overdo it

    Use your keywords moderately and only in places where it’s natural to do so. Try putting yourself in the position of your customer when you read your copy. Is it relevant, useful and compelling? If so, that’s what will make them want to stick around – and Google, in turn, will reward your website for it.

    Check out this example from Triangl, a highly successful Australian swimsuit brand. In the following product page, you’ll notice that Triangle lightly sprinkles relevant keywords (e.g., ‘bikini’) throughout the content without going overboard.

    Triangls product listings are concise, clear, and helps to sell their products

    Mistake 3: Not having an internal linking strategy for your product pages

    What often gets overlooked in discussions about algorithms is that site ranking really boils down to usability.

    Translation: your site architecture needs to be on-point, and this is judged in part by how easy your site is to navigate. The purpose of an eCommerce site is to have customers buy products, so you need to gear your link structure to this end. There’s no point in only having navigational links to your site’s ‘about us’ and ‘contact’ pages. This won’t take your customers anywhere near the shopping cart! If your customer is looking for something specific, the links they come across in their searching need to be relevant and useful.

    What to do instead: Improve your site’s usability with the right internal links

    Internal linking really boosts your site usability. If you link between ‘similar’ product pages, whether they be companion products or products with similar features, this massively improves the user experience of your site. Keeping your customers browsing between products for longer periods sends positive ranking signals to Google, which helps you in the SEO department.

    Take this example from women's fashion store, Osmose:

     

    Osmose's product recommendations listed below their product pages

    On this page, Osmose has included a plug-in that recommends similar products to customers as they browse This aids a customer’s shopping experience because they’re able to find relevant products much easier.

     

    Mistake 4: Not optimizing your site for mobile

    Having a site that isn’t mobile-optimized may not be killing your SEO rankings just yet, but in July 2019, Google will begin using a ‘mobile-first’ indexing system – this means that your site will get judged according to its mobile-friendliness. Google’s new system replaces a previous update in 2015, which used a mix of mobile and desktop signals to dictate search results.

    So even though it currently makes no difference if the majority of your traffic still comes from ‘desktop-based’ searching, Google has basically confirmed that mobile is king. Moral of the story? If your site isn’t mobile-optimized, your ranking could be taking a hit in a few months’ time.

     

    What to do instead: Implement responsive web design

    Rather than having your mobile customers struggle with a shrunken version of your desktop site, you should install a responsive layout. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is the approach recommended by Google because it doesn’t create separate URLs for desktop and mobile, which can get confused as duplicate content (a real SEO headache). RWD instead adjusts to the layout needed for each user, whether it be mobile, tablet, or desktop.

    Google’s free mobile-friendly test allows you to analyze each page of your website by entering the URL, providing feedback on any issues.

    And here’s the good news: some of the best eCommerce platforms, including Shopify and BigCommerce, now provide responsive themes. So, it’s worth checking if you need to update to the latest version, or else switch to a custom theme.

    Mistake 5: Publishing low-quality content


    It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘content for content’s sake’ to improve your ranking, particularly when it comes to your blog.

    Many SEO experts agree that having a blog is an important part of SEO strategy because they’re a great tool for adding more indexed pages to your site. Google’s ‘crawlers’ treat pages as individual search results that show up if they match a query. The more indexed pages you have, the more queries that your brand will get associated with. So, it’s tempting to churn out tons of short, hastily-written content each week, simply to get your indexed page count higher.

    But Google is well-aware that this strategy is used to ‘trick’ its algorithm, and the search engine penalizes websites with a high number of pages ‘thin’ content.

    What to do instead: Choose quality over quantity

    Switch to a strategy that prioritizes high-value content that engages, informs, and entertains your readers.

    In terms of the content itself, your focus needs to be less about the semantics of SEO. Being perfectly optimized for keywords isn’t what makes a blog interesting! So, what does? Content that is well-researched and contains insights that people can use or learn from.

    Check out the skincare specialist, Sigi Skin. Many of their posts are highly actionable and contain pointers that their customers can do on their own.

     

    Sigi Skin Blog
     

    Mistake 6: Not optimizing your images for SEO

    There are a number of key errors that eCommerce merchants make when it comes to images. They include:

    • Using larger-than-necessary images - It's a known fact that page speed is a ranking factor for Google. Using large images increase a page's load time, which in turn hurts your rankings.

    • Not having the right image titles and tags - Search engines crawl image file names and alt text to figure out what image is about, so by failing to optimize these components, you're missing out on giving Google valuable information about your images.

    • Using images to replace text - Some merchants use images that contain words, to avoid dealing with text formatting issues. While this may seem like a smart shortcut, it does nothing for SEO. Again, this practice prevents you from fully communicating with search engines, thereby hurting your rankings in the process.

    What to do instead: Always consider SEO when using images

    Optimize your image file names and alt-tags by using descriptive words. Let's say you're posting an image of a red party dress. Instead of naming it "IMG_0321111.jpg" use the file name "red-scoop-neck-dress.jpg".

    The same thing goes for your alt text. According to BigCommerce, in addition to serving as "an alternative when websites can't render the image for some reason," alt text "describes the image to search engines so they can understand them."

    The best thing you can do to optimize your alt text is to sprinkle in keywords that clearly communicate what the image is. Just make sure not to overdo it by keyword stuffing.

    As for your image sizes, BigCommerce recommends keeping your images under 70KB. Also opt for JPEG instead of PNG or GIF, because it “allows higher quality with a smaller file size.”

    Finally, avoid using images as a replacement for text. Remember, search engines determine your rankings primarily by crawling the text on your website, so make sure you have enough word-based content on there to give Google a clear idea of what each page is about.

     

    Creating a webpage as an image

     

    Final words


    SEO can feel like a real minefield for both new and experienced eCommerce merchants. Ultimately, though, the most important thing to keep in mind is that both you and Google have the same goal; to give your customer the best user experience possible. Focus on that and you’ll be on your way to better SEO rankings.

    Have you seen the rest of the SEO Series? Check out Part One and Two in the links below.

     

    Take me to part 1Take me to part 2

    SEO Series Part 2: Making Search Engine Optimization More Affordable

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    Part 2 of our SEO series gives you actionable tips on getting started with eCommerce SEO while taking the DIY route!

    Marsello's SEO blog series Part 2

    Welcome to the second instalment of Marsello’s eCommerce SEO series. In our previous article, we talked about the basics of Search Engine Optimization and the initial steps you should take to kick off your efforts.

     

    This week, we’ll be discussing the costs of Search Engine Optimization and the things you can do to get more bang for your buck.

     

    A 2018 study by Ahrefs found that the most popular hourly rate for SEO professionals ranges from $101-150 per hour. For those that charge monthly retainer fees, the range of $500-$1,000 per month was the most popular pricing tier.

     

    And while those figures aren’t surprising, they’re far from being chump change, especially if you’re a small business.

     

    So what does an SMB to do?

     

    While your exact steps will depend on how much SEO work you need, we’ve put together some expert-backed pointers on how you can save money on search engine optimization costs.

    Let’s have a look.

     

    Educate yourself

    If you have some time on your hands and don’t have the budget to pay someone $100+ an hour for SEO services, then going the do-it-yourself (aka DIY) route could be a good way to go. Just remember, though, that your results from your DIY efforts will only be as good as your SEO knowledge.

     

    That’s why if you’re not well-versed in Search Engine Optimization, the first thing you should do is educate yourself.

     

    “There are so many resources available online now to do your own SEO, even for online merchants,” says Ben Hanzel, chief editor at BestCompany.com

     

    He adds that eCommerce-centric SEO is different from the average website, which is why he recommends consuming SEO resources specifically for eCommerce merchants.

     

    Alex Ratynski of Make Bank Blogging echoes this advice. “In my years of experience as a professional SEO, I have worked with a number of brands and businesses big and small. For those smaller businesses in eCommerce, I think a lot can be done by just simply educating themselves beforehand. This will help whether they work with a consultant or not.”

     

    To start with, Alex suggests the comprehensive eCommerce SEO guides from Ahrefs, Backlinko, and Neil Patel. Guides such as these give a good grounding for the information eCommerce retailers need when getting started with SEO and it’s a great idea to get this base-understanding as early as possible.

     

    Hire a consultant who can offer advice

    If you have funds to spare, Hanzel recommends using it on a consultant. But rather than paying an SEO specialist to work on your site for 20+ hours a month for a year, you can choose to spend a fraction of the cost by consulting with an expert who can tell you what to do.

     

    “It may be worth getting an hour consultation, to know where to start,” he says. “Some SEO companies even offer this for free, as long as you're willing to sit through a sales pitch at the end of it.”

     

    Another option is to hire someone as an ’overseer’ rather than a full-fledged service provider. According to Ratynski, one thing you could do is bring in someone "for a few hours every few months to do full audits, give clear actionable improvements, reasons for those, and then give you the option to do it yourself.”

     

    With that said, if you decide to hire a consultant or advisor, make it a point to take action on their recommendations. “SEO does take time, so make sure you're putting in the effort and time to fully dedicate yourself to it, and you'll reap the benefits for years,” says Hanzel.

     

    To reiterate Hanzel’s point, SEO can take months even to seem to make a difference, and even then it’s not static. You will need to update your store, information, and content frequently to be sure that it’s relevant. The basic idea is that Google and other search engines see your site, process that information as valuable to the search requests of your potential customers, and prioritizes your site in the search results. The higher your store appears in that list; the more likely a customer is to click on it and convert to purchasing with you. SEO is a long game, but it’s undeniably important.

     

    Marketing professional uses diary and computer to make SEO plan.

    Go the DIY route

    Once you have the SEO info you need (either by reading up on Search Engine Optimization or consulting with an expert), it’s time to take action on what you’ve learned. The specifics will vary, depending on your site, but generally speaking, the success of your SEO efforts will hinge on how well you do the following:

    • Keyword research

    • Content creation

    • Link building

    Let’s look at each of these components in more detail.

     

    Keyword research

    As we mentioned in our previous post, keyword research is the cornerstone of any Search Engine Optimization strategy. Before getting to the ‘optimization’ part of SEO, you first need to identify the keywords that your customers are searching for.

    As we mentioned previously, the best keywords are the ones with a high search volume (because it means many people are searching for it) but with a competition level low enough for you to compete with.

    But there's another key component that makes a search term worth targeting, and that's intent. When doing your research, you need to discern whether or not a keyword is backed by a consumer's intent to buy.

    For example, a person searching for keywords like ‘where to buy a coffee mug’ or ‘travel porcelain mugs’ likely has a stronger buying intent than someone who's looking for information on just ‘coffee’ or  ‘how to clean a coffee mug.’

    When identifying keywords to use in your copy, ask yourself: "does this search term reflect an intent to buy?". If the answer is no, then it's not a good keyword to target.

     

    How to find keyword ideas

    There’s no shortage of SEO tools dedicated to keyword research. Some of the industry’s favorites include Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Mangools, though we should note that these come with a subscription fee.

     

    And since this guide is for merchants looking to save on SEO costs, we’ll be focusing on the free tools you can use to find keywords.

     

    Google Keyword Planner

    Google’s Keyword Planner is a great starting point for search term ideas. Simply enter keywords related to your product, and the tool will make numerous suggestions based on what others are searching for. Google will also display a search volume and competition level for each keyword.

    For instance, when you enter the word ‘mug’ into Google’s Keyword Planner, it’ll serve up nearly a thousand relevant ‘mug’ related keywords you can sift through.

     

    Google Ads keyword planner

     

    Ubersuggest

     

    Online marketing guru Neil Patel created a nifty tool called ‘Ubersuggest’, which can be an excellent source for ideas. Much like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest displays search volume estimates and competition info. Even better, Ubersuggest offers keyword difficulty insights that can estimate your chances of ranking in the top 20 search results.

     

    Ubersuggest keyword search volume

     

    Amazon

     

    Another easy way to surface the right keywords is to use Amazon. Just start typing your keyword into the search box and take note of what the autocomplete feature will display.

    What’s great about this method is that since Amazon is already a shopping site, most (if not all of the keywords) it suggests would be high-intent search terms.

     

    Amazon search suggestions

     

    Google

     

    Google (the search engine) also has a great autocomplete feature that you can mine for keyword ideas. Again, just type in a search term and see what the tool suggests.

     

    Google search suggestions

     

    Do note that that with the last two suggestions (i.e., Amazon and Google) you won’t get any data on search volume and competition. That’s why if you’re using these sites for keyword ideas, you’ll need to take note of the keywords you want to target and enter them into a tool (like Google Keyword Planner) that shows you how many people are searching for the term and what the competition looks like.  

     

    Content creation

    Once you've figured out the best keywords to target, start incorporating them in your copy. There are a number of key places to do this, including your title tags, meta descriptions, headers and subheads, and product and category descriptions.

     

    A great example of a website that does all of the above is Zazzle. Their website is one of the top search results for ‘funny mugs’ and for good reason. As you’ll see below, all the key areas of Zazzle’s category and product pages are optimized for search.

     

    Title tags – In addition to telling search engines what the title of a page is, the title tag is also text that shows up on search results, so it's also one of the first pieces of information that potential visitors see. In eCommerce, the best places on which to optimize your title tags are your category pages and product pages.

     

    Meta description – As we mentioned in our previous post, meta descriptions don’t directly affect your rankings. However, they still show up in search results, so they can influence a searcher’s decision to click through your site. For this reason, it’s important that your meta description still contains relevant keywords

     

    Zazzle meta description

     
    Headers and subheaders – Headers and subheaders can have a lot of SEO value, as Google factors them in when determining if a page is relevant to a particular search term. From user's perspective, headers can act as signposts that help visitors easily skim your content or jump to the section that's relevant to them. In the world of ecommerce, your headers usually come in the form of your product titles and subtitles, so make sure they're optimized for search.
     
    Creating webpage headers and subheaders

     

    Product or category descriptions – Your product and category descriptions essentially tell customers and search engines what your merchandise is all about. In addition to peppering in relevant keywords, you want to make sure your descriptions are unique. Google doesn’t like duplicate content, so using the product descriptions of your manufacturers – or worse – copying another website’s description, will lead to poor rankings.

     

    Creating SEO-optimized product titles

     

    Link building

    After you’ve optimized your content for SEO, the next step is to build links for your site. While no one knows for sure how Google's algorithm works, pretty much everyone agrees that links are a critical ranking factor.

     

    According to Search Engine Journal, “Backlinks remain an important Google ranking factor, but over the years, Google has learned to weed out the bad links from the good. More links will still result in a higher score, but only if they’re from a number of diverse and authoritative domains.”

    In short, the more high-quality links pointing to your site, the better your chances of ranking.

    So, how do you build those precious backlinks? Consider the following ideas:

     

    Get featured on relevant blogs

    Build relationships with bloggers in your niche and see if they can feature you on their site. An effective tactic here is to send them a free sample in exchange for an honest review. You could even assign a promo code or affiliate link that allows bloggers to earn a commission when someone buys your product through their site.

     

    For instance, when Tarashaun Hausner reviewed Daily Harvest on her blog Blender Babes, she included a special promo code that gives readers 3 free cups when they sign up. Her post also contains affiliate links, so she can earn revenue for each signup.

     

    Daily Harvest used influencer marketing for SEO

     

    Do press outreach

    Connecting with members of the press is another great way to obtain backlinks. Find journalists who are writing a story relevant to your industry and volunteer yourself as a source for their article.

     

    You can easily do this using a tool called HARO. Short for “Help a Reporter Out,” HARO is a service that lets journalists submit queries asking for expert input for their articles. When you subscribe to their service, HARO sends you daily queries from journalists, which you can then respond to. If the journalist likes your input, they’ll include it in their article and will often link back to your website.

     

    Here’s an example of what query looks like. The journalist sends in a description of an article that they’re writing along with a request for sources. Members subscribers receive the query in their inbox and can choose to respond if they’re a good fit for the article.

     

    Marketers can use Haro to submit and create research requests

     

    Create share-worthy content

     

    Another way to gain backlinks? Produce link-worthy content. Create a piece of content (e.g., guide, video, blog etc) that’s so engaging that people would naturally want to link to it.

     

    Dollar Shave Club is a master at this strategy. The company regularly creates useful and entertaining content for its website; in addition to helping DSC engage their followers and subscribers, all that content is also helping them gain backlinks.

     

    For example, DSC’s ‘Original Content’ homepage currently has 285 backlinks, many of which are from high-quality sites.

     

    Dollar Shave Club's backlinks

     

    DSC is also doing well with video. The company has produced several hilarious videos about their product, which earned them backlinks from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Vox, Entrepreneur, and more.

     

    One of their top videos currently has more than 25 million views and over 53,000 backlinks.

    As you can see, effectively gaining backlinks doesn’t just happen. Getting others to link to your site requires active outreach and content creation, so it’s critical to incorporate these tasks into your SEO strategy.

     

    Take advantage of free or affordable tools

    Depending on the SEO tasks that you’re doing, you can save a lot of money by choosing your tools wisely. We’ve already mentioned several free tools above, but here are additional SEO solutions you can use to optimize your website:

     

    Yoast – Yoast is a plugin made for WordPress. The free version enables you to optimize your blog posts through tools like keyword optimization and Google preview. Yoast can also check your content for readability and make on-page recommendations on how to improve.

     

    Keywords Everywhere – This is a free browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox that displays search volume, CPC, and competition data for the keywords that you search on sites like Google, Amazon, YouTube, Answer the Public, and more.

     

    LinkMiner – Another Chrome extension, LinkMiner helps surface broken on any website. Broken links can be harmful for SEO, so this tool makes it easy to find those pesky links so you can fix them.

     

    Can I Rank? – Can I Rank is an AI-powered tool that analyzes your website and gives you insights on what you can do improve? It provides insights like which pages are ranking well (and why) and you'll get suggestions for content ideas, link opportunities, and more.

     

    SERP Preview Tool – Curious about how your website will appear in search results? Portent's SERP Preview Tool can help. Just enter your title tag, meta description, and URL and the tool will generate Google search result preview for you.

     

    The tools mentioned in this guide are just the tip of the iceberg, though. If you’re looking to dive deeper into various SEO tools, we recommend the following resources:

    If you must outsource, know which tasks to do yourself and which to leave to a pro

    If you have a full plate and don’t have the capacity to fully shoulder all things SEO, consider adopting a hybrid approach where you do some tasks yourself while outsourcing others.

     

    How do you determine the right balance? Start by making a list of the SEO tasks that need to be addressed (e.g., link building, creating content, creating a site map, etc.). From there, figure out your strengths and focus your efforts on the things that you’re good at.

     

    As Catherine Giese, SEO associate at Fundera puts it, “SEO encompasses a lot of time-consuming techniques such as keyword research, site structuring, and link building. That's why it's often at least one person's job, if not that of an entire team,” she says.

     

    Giese continues, “take stock of your strengths to determine how to prioritize. For example, if you're an engineer, you may be able to do site structure, but may not be comfortable with doing outreach for link building purposes.”

     

    Follow her advice when you’re mapping out your strategy. Before diving into various SEO tasks, iron out the specific jobs that need to get done, figure out what you can do yourself, and then outsource the rest.

     

    Visual business chart with an agent showing how to interpret marketing metrics.

     

    Be smart about working with agencies and freelancers

    If you decide to outsource your SEO, do your research and make sure you select a reputable agency or freelancer who can optimize your site using ethical and white hat tactics. One of the best ways to go is to ask for referrals from merchants you know that are ranking well on Google. Then once you have a handful of prospects, request for case studies and references so you can see the results they’ve achieved with other businesses.

     

    In terms of working arrangements, we recommend avoiding long-term contracts, as the last thing you want is to be tied down to an agency or freelancer who isn’t a good fit.

     

    As Matt Antonino, Head of Operations at the marketing agency Digital Eagles points out, “many agencies have 12-month contracts but if they don't perform you are stuck with a long-term relationship that costs and has little value.”

     

    Antonino adds that “long contracts don't create an incentive for the agency to continuously help improve your business... thee and six-month deals may make more sense.”

     

    Once you know who you want to work with, be smart about the tasks you assign to the agency or freelancer. You want to make sure you get the most value out of their efforts, so figure out the best use of their time and resources.

     

    “The trick to keeping costs down is to ask yourself if what you want that expert to do is their highest and best use,” says BJ Enoch, VP of Enterprise Accounts for SocialSEO. “If you're looking for someone to do alt image tags across 1,000 products or fix internal broken links, is that something you really need to pay an expert, or could you be doing it yourself?”

     

    Enoch adds that you can lower your costs even more by taking care of content yourself.

     

    “Content is one of the most labor intensive and expensive parts of an SEO strategy (and one of the most important). There are some content elements that should have some expert insight, but making sure you've got unique product descriptions and resolving duplicate content on your own can save a surprising amount of money with a consultant or expert.”

     

    SEO doesn't have to be expensive

    While search engine optimization requires an investment (in both time and money), you can lower your costs significantly by being smart about the tasks you take on and the SEO experts that you hire.

     

    With the right SEO education, some patience, and competent experts on your side, it’s totally possible to take your SEO game to the next level.


    Have you seen the rest of the SEO Series? Check out Part One and Part Three in the links below

     

     

    Take me to part 1Take me to part 3

    SEO Series Part 1: Getting Started With Search Engine Optimization

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    From ads and influencers to podcasts and Google AdWords, we've put together several effective SEO tactics to help you get the word out about your store.

    Marsello's SEO series part 1

    As far as eCommerce marketing is concerned, merchants have a variety of choices. From Instagram ads and influencer marketing to podcasts and Google AdWords, there’s no shortage of tactics you can try if you’re looking to get the word out about your store.

     

    Despite the rise of newer and sexier marketing strategies, search engine optimization – SEO for short – continues to be one of the most effective ways to get your site out there. As Search Engine Land points out, having great visibility in search engines drives awareness and traffic to your site, benefits your brand, and builds credibility and trust.

     

    When done right, SEO can also lead to lower customer acquisition costs over the long term. Once you’ve gotten your site to rank for profitable keywords, you’ll find that people will  find your store organically without you having to actively pay for them to do so (unlike with ads).

     

    SEO is clearly an important component of eCommerce marketing. That’s why we’re excited to unveil a new article series here on the Marsello blog. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be publishing SEO-centric posts to help take your search engine presence to the next level.

     

    To kick things off, we’re covering the basic steps you need to take to optimize your eCommerce site for search.

     

    Let’s dive in.

     

    1. Always start with keyword research

    Keyword research is one of the cornerstones of SEO. You need to identify what terms your customers are typing into search engines like Google and what terms connect with your store, then, optimize your site accordingly by adding these keywords into your core content such as the ‘about’ sections and product descriptions.

     

    There are a number of tools that can help you do this. One that easily comes to mind is Google Keyword Planner, a free solution that lets you search for relevant keywords.

     

    Here’s how it works: start by entering keywords relevant to your product. So, if you’re selling tea and tea supplies, you can type in terms like ‘tea,’ ‘teaware,’ ‘tea accessories,’ etc.

     

    From there, Google will show you each keyword’s estimated search volume and level of competition. Google will also suggest other search terms related to the keywords you entered.

     

    Google Ad Words Keyword by Relevance tool

    Note that while Google’s Keyword Planner is a solid tool, you may want to check out premium SEO software such as SEMRush and Ahrefs. These solutions can offer more granular data around search volume and provide insights into the keywords you should be targeting.

     

    Now, the best keyword strategy will vary from one site to the next, but generally speaking, you’ll need to factor in the following things when deciding which keywords to target:

     

    Search volume – You want to have a decent number of people searching for the keywords you choose to make the effort of finding and inserting them worth it. If a certain keyword only gets 0-10 searches a month, then it’s best to move on to other keywords with high search rates and close connection to your products/store.

     

    Competition – The more websites competing for a keyword, the harder it is to rank, so targeting low competition search terms will maximize your chances of landing at the first page of Google.

     

    This is where it gets challenging because the keywords with the highest search volume are typically the most competitive. You will need to do a lot of digging to uncover low competition terms with a decent search volume. Start writing a list of the keywords you’ve found and compare their search rates to their competition. Soon you’ll start finding words that fit the bill.

     

    Relevance – This may sound obvious, but determining the relevance of some search terms can be tricky, particularly if a keyword is ambiguous.

     

    For example, if you sell competition-level dart boards, you may think that ‘target’ is a great keyword. Unfortunately, Google thinks ‘target’ searchers want are looking for Target the department store.

    You also want to go for keywords that are relevant to people’s intent to buy. Let’s say you’re selling paintings or posters. Keywords like ‘free posters’ or ‘DIY wall art’ are best avoided because people searching these terms aren’t likely to spend money on ready-made art.

     

    Bottom line? When doing keyword research, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Get into the mindset of someone who is ready to buy your products and identify the search terms that they’re entering into Google.

     

    2. Go beyond optimizing your content

    Once you find those relevant keywords, find ways to work them into your website.

    The most obvious way to do this is to spread them throughout your copy – i.e., on your homepage, about page, product descriptions, etc.

     

    But you shouldn’t stop there.

     

    Keywords should show up in a lot of other places, as well, including:

     

    Your meta titles – The meta title is an HTML code found at the header of a web page. Its purpose is to tell search engines what a page is all about. According to Moz, “title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.”

     

    What about your meta descriptions? Well, contrary to what some may think, meta descriptions don’t effect rankings directly. Still, it’s worth including your keywords in meta tags because Google will display them in bold on the search results page. This might lead to more clicks, which would help your rankings.

     

    Your URL – Ideally, you want the right keywords in your domain name. For example, Red Dress Boutique (RedDressBoutique.com), a fashion boutique for women, has keywords like ‘dress’ and ‘boutique’ in the domain name.

     

    That said, It’s not the end of the world if your domain name doesn’t contain top search terms. But at the very least, relevant keywords should be in your URLs.

     

    For instance, on its category page for men’s running shoes, Adidas has that exact key in its URL.

     

    Adidas' product catergories

     

    It’s also a good idea to focus on accessibility. Instead of using random characters in your URLs, customize them with keywords and make it clear what the page shows.

     

    3. Work on your product pages

    Product pages aren’t usually content heavy, but there are still a number of things you could do to set them up for SEO success.

     

    In addition to optimizing your URLs and title tags, you also want to incorporate the right keywords in your product titles, descriptions, and image tags.

     

    Internal links can also help. Take a look at how búl does their product pages for inspiration.

     
    búls product descriptions

    This page isn’t very copy-heavy, however it includes all the information that a customer could be looking for, with a hint of keyword inclusion (for example, 100% cotton; boxy mini dress, garment). With an internal link to a size chart, búl also makes sure to link their customers to another section of their site – a powerful SEO too. They follow each product listing with an 'other products you may like' section that encourages customers to keep exploring búl's website. 

     

    4. Prioritize site structure

    Google, and your customers, appreciate it when your site is easy to navigate and use, so keep your site structure simple (so long as it remains scalable).

     

    To accomplish this, make sure all your pages are just two or three clicks away from your homepage. HausLondon, an eCommerce site that sells home furniture and lighting, is a great example of this. Despite having thousands of pages, the vast majority are fewer than three clicks from their homepage.

     

    Haus's website featuring a simple and effective site structure

    5. Answer the need for speed

    Navigability helps but if your site is slow, you risk losing customers who aren’t willing to wait around.

    In general, about 40% of users will leave a site if it doesn’t load within just three seconds. That means you could lose nearly half of your potential customers simply because your site takes too long to finally appear when they click on it.

     

    Speed isn’t just about your customers, though. All the way back in 2010, Google’s Maile Ohye, reported that, “Site performance is now a factor in Google’s rankings.” She later went on to say that “Two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website accessibility. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”

     

    Turning SEO into an ongoing priority

    Whether you already have an eCommerce store or its launch is just around the corner, it’s important to understand that optimizing your site for SEO isn’t just a one-time thing.

     

    Instead, analyzing your site for opportunities to improve its rankings should be an ongoing effort to ensure that you're continuously getting in front of the right audiences.

     

    Have you seen the rest of the SEO Series? Check out Part Two and Three in the links below.

    Take me to part 2Take me to part 3

    Getting started with small business marketing on a budget: 8 ways

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    As a small business, retail marketing can be one of the biggest challenges almost every small business owner faces. Discover these 8 tips & get inspired.
     

    Marsello_blog_top_banner_retailer_marketing_how_to

     

    Getting (and staying) in front of customers is one of the biggest challenges almost every small business owner faces. Not only are attention spans shorter than ever, but advertising costs are increasing rapidly, so it can be difficult to reach your target audiences if you’re on a budget.

     

    If your small business needs more exposure, but you’re worried that your bottom line can’t handle the costs to promote your store, fret not. Here are 8 relatively low-cost advertising and marketing ideas you can try:

     

     

    1. Get your local listings in order

     

    Put your business on the map – literally. If you have a physical store and it’s not showing up on Google Maps, you’re missing out on tons of local traffic opportunities. Research has shown that 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their phone visit a store within a day, while 34% of those who searched using their tablet or computer did the same.

     

    Fortunately, getting your Google listing in order is free and easy. You can check out Google’s detailed instructions here, but here’s a quick rundown of the steps you need to take to set up your listing:

    • Go to the Google My Business website and sign in or create an account.

    • Enter your business information (i.e., name, street address, category, etc.).

    • Enter your phone number or website.

    • Verify that you're authorized to the manage the listing.

    Also, note that Google isn’t the only directory in which you can list your business. To gain even more exposure, consider getting listed on:

    2. Sponsor an event attended by your customers

     

    Event sponsorship doesn’t have to be expensive, particularly if you’re doing it at a local level. Call your Chamber of Commerce to explore events or functions in your area and inquire about any sponsorship opportunities.

     

    You can also use a website like Eventbrite or Meetup.com to find relevant events in your vicinity.. As Meetup organizer Shannon Liska points on Quora, each Meetup.com page has areas for sponsor ads, and organizers can charge companies $10 or $20 for running those ads.

     

    Also, note that sponsoring an event doesn’t always have to involve cash. If you have space in your business, why not volunteer your location as a venue? If you’re selling workout gear, you could potentially host a yoga meetup in your store. You may need to open your shop a little earlier or temporarily close off a section for the class, but you’ll get the benefit of putting your products in front of relevant audiences.

     

    3. Partner with other small businesses

    You don’t have to market your business by yourself. There are likely plenty of other retailers who are on the same boat and are looking to get their business out there. So, why not come together and launch joint marketing initiatives?

     

    Approach small businesses in your neighborhood or shopping center to see if they’d be open to any cross-promotional opportunities. Another option is to check for existing ‘Shop Small’ or ‘Shop Local’ movements going on in your community.

     

     

    4. Work with influencers

     

    Have you explored influencer marketing yet? If not, it may be time to do so, considering that about 92% of consumers trust influencers more than traditional celebrities and ads.

     

    Working with influencers can prove to be a very effective marketing effort, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. The key is to work with individuals whose followers range from 2,000 to 50,000. Not only do these influencers charge less, but research has shown they have higher engagement rates.

     

    According to IZEA, "People with 1,000 to 9,999 followers often have engagement rates around 7.4 percent," but by the time they've amassed over 100,000 fans,  engagement rates drop to just 2.4%.

     

    So, start exploring the influencer landscape in your industry. Identify micro-influencers in your niche and connect with them. Follow their accounts, engage with their content, and send them samples of your product. These actions can put your brand on their radar and help cultivate a relationship.

     

     

    5. Encourage customer referrals

     

    In addition to influencer marketing, you could also encourage your customers to recommend your business to their friends. Set up a referral program that incentivizes them to share your brand with others.

     

    Buda Juice, a retailer that sells cold-pressed juices, does an amazing job at this. They've cleverly linked their loyalty program with a referral system that gives members 50 points for every friend that makes a purchase. Doing so not only encourages customers to join their loyalty program, but it drives referrals for Buda Juice in the process.

     

    Buda Widget homescreen 

     

    6. Make the most out of your store’s curbside

     

    Putting up a ‘SALE’ sign on your store window is great and all, but if you want truly stop people in their tracks, consider using your curbside as well. Many local shops are now using sandwich boards outside their store to promote their products.

     

    In some cases, you can even use these boards to tell a joke or display a witty remark. Here’s an example of a clothing store’s Welcome sign in Brea, CA, which says “I wish my health insurance covered retail therapy.”

     

    Chalk sign in front of retail store that says "I wish my health insurance covered retail therapy"
     

    7. Go beyond advertising your products

     

    If your current ads or promotional content aren’t working, you may want to take a second look at your call to action within you messages, to see if it’s compelling enough. Chances are if all you’re doing is advertising your products, then shoppers aren’t resonating enough with your brand.

     

    Rather than just promoting your merchandise, start telling genuine stories or share content that promotes your values. Consumers like supporting businesses that they can relate to and one of the ways to get your brand to resonate is to share deeper stories or content.

     

    A good first step is to talk about your values and the reasons why you started your company. Mix up your product advertising with messages about your company’s mission. You may find that doing so allows you to connect with shoppers at a deeper level, which, in turn, could drive sales.

     

    Buda Juice, once again, does an excellent job here. In addition to promoting their pressed juices, Buda Juice devotes ample space on their website to talk about their beliefs, passions, and values. They also mention their sustainability efforts and link to the causes and organizations they support.

     

    BudaJuice's Beliefs and Passions page from their website.
     

    8. Run a giveaway

     

    When implemented correctly, giveaways be a low-cost way to get the word out about your brand and drive a specific call to action.

     

    The key to running a successful contest lies on two things: your prize and the action that participants have to take.

     

    Before running your giveaway, you first have to iron out your objectives. What do you want your contest to achieve? Are you looking to get more email signups? More Facebook likes? Do you want users to join your loyalty program? Identify your main goal, and then design your contest to drive that objective.

     

    So, if your goal is to increase your social media fans, then the main call to action of your giveaway would be to follow you on social.

     

    Your prize is also critical. Avoid generic prizes like an iPad or cash. These things may drive contest entry volume, but you’ll end up attracting people who are only in it for the prize. Instead, come up with something that your target customers would truly love. Product giveaways, in-store experiences, or “meet and greet the founder” are good options here. Such prizes are sure to only attract those who have a genuine interest in your business. You may not get hundreds of thousands of entries, but you’re sure to grab the attention of the people that count.

     

     

    Final words

     

    You don’t need to have deep pockets to run successful advertising or marketing campaigns. With some creativity, you can use the resources you already have or join forces with others and get tremendous results.

     

    Let us know in the comments your favorite tips and tricks to get a good grounding for small business marketing. What’s worked for you or your contacts? What do you wish you knew more about?

     

    And if you’re only just starting out, good luck. Let us know how you get on!

    5 Ways to Capitalize on Your Holiday Marketing Strategies

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    How do you get your store noticed in a sea of marketing during the holiday season? Discover 5 actionable tips for holiday email marketing to maximize ROI.

    Black Friday featured in bold on a laptop screen.

     

    Holiday Marketing is Worth The Effort

    Cyber Week, the holidays stretching from Thanksgiving to the following Monday, is the golden goose of retail revenue, and it lands right in the middle of the holiday season stretching from Halloween, right the way into the new year. CNBC reported that Cyber Monday (the Monday that follows Thanksgiving) is the single biggest day of the year for online shopping making it an essential focus for retailers.

    BigCommerce reported in their blog, Black Friday: An eCommerce Survival Guide that “the few short days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday draw about a fifth of holiday sales all season long”. This stat alone cements Black Friday and Cyber Week as unmissable marketing and revenue events for retailers, just as much as they are unmissable shopping events for customers. With approximately 58 million people shopping online and 51 million choosing to shop in-store, it’s easy to see the value in retailers tapping into that revenue through marketing campaigns.

    So there’s no doubt that tapping into Cyber Week is a key revenue agent for retailers. For these reasons and more, we're focusing this holiday marketing blog on the single biggest revenue weekend of the year, although the tools you take away from it can be applied for pretty much any event!

    So how do you get your store noticed in a sea of marketing during a busy holiday period, and how do you do it quickly?

    If you’re unsure where to start, sometimes it’s best to take your cues from the best trends of recent years. Consider 2017 the year of personalized, holiday-themed email flows and curated gift guides.

     

    Holiday marketing sales statistics

     

    But before you consider how you can approach the ideas from previous years, check out the following tips picked to help you prepare for the impending Cyber Week madness.

     

     

    A Holiday Marketing Plan to Showcase Your Brand

    A 2015 study by the National Retail Federation suggested that effective marketing of your brand before and during Cyber Week can increase sales by up to a shocking 30%, this even increases to 40% in some industries (such as jewelry). Use this knowledge to your advantage! Even if you’re behind on your email marketing, you could try to find a moment to create a series of email flows that offer exclusive discounts and deals for your store during the Cyber Week chaos.

    This is a great time to mention that Marsello's email templates library is a great place to find ready-made templates that will allow you to easily design and send emails even in a time-crunch. 

    Just to be thorough, here’s an example of a manually created email flow which could be the the push you need to see holiday success and marketing ROI.

    Let’s break these down:

    Email 1:

      • Campaign Launch! Announce your enticing Cyber-focused deal/sale and give a clear call to action to your customers to shop with you – an idea for a first email is a gift-guide or staff-picks announcement.

      • Include some branded, appropriate and fun graphics to make your email instantly recognizable as a Cyber Week related email which is also linked to your brand.

      • Add another call to action at the bottom which suggests the customer checks out more products or visits you in-store at a list of your brick-and-mortar locations.

    Extra note: you could segment this email flow so that those who are making a first-time purchase are offered a similar email immediately after their purchase, but their email includes a coupon code valid only for cyber-week, incentivizing them to shop again with you in the near future.

     

    Email 2:

      • Your call to action needs to remind your customers that your sale or deal is ending soon and convince them to shop before it ends. A simple ‘Our sale is ending soon/ on [date/day of the week]. ORDER NOW!’ is a tried and true CTA.

      • Your cyber-week visuals for this should be fresh and attention-grabbing, reminding your customers that you’re creative and current.

      • Include your shipping costs or terms so that your customers are reassured about their shopping experience with you.

      Email 3:

      • Your sale ends today, tomorrow, or in [X] hours. With an imminent end, remind your customers that this is the last day to shop and they shouldn’t miss out.

      • Graphics and images could be changed to include themed gift-guide ideas or suggestions from popular purchases throughout the week.

      • Marsello offers an email flow option which shows the customer similar items to those that they’ve previously purchased. Including smart AI that personalizes the email will help your customers to feel as though your items meet their needs.

    • Email 4:

      • Thank those of your customers that made a purchase during Cyber week for shopping with you. Or you could send everyone a reminder of the next holiday in your calendar or that it’s simply coming up to the festive season and now is the perfect time for them to get on top of their shopping.

      • You can always add themed graphics which say thank you but why not show off some of the top-sellers from the week if you haven’t used this already.

      • If there are any delays in shipping or updates, make sure to let your customers know why this is the case.

    Get Creative & Be Consistent

    We’ve compiled a shortlist of these 5 ways that you can make the most out of your marketing and see results from just a few quick changes:

     

    1: Add themes and graphics to your website and social media marketing.

    Whether this is just updating your website’s banner with a cute graphic that includes some of your products, or a fully adapted homepage/landing page, the end-game is to narrow your customers’ focus onto the products you’re hoping they will buy. Some stores even use a product countdown or time-until-sale-ends timer so that customers feel the pressure to shop and avoid missing your store’s deals.

    Australian pet-product store, Peticular, is a seasoned pro at seasonal and festive marketing. Check out the way they’ve used social media to advertise their Halloween-specific items by including this adorable photo of a bandana-wearing pooch. They are also quick to update their store and email marketing with similar graphics which show off their brand but also their products.

     

    Peticular's halloween-themed Facebook post

     

    We love that they’ve cleverly included the item’s price, clearly displayed with the additions of a ‘products shown’ button below the image. Peticular have also gone the extra mile and included a link in the description to even more bandana designs. They do a great job of using their marketing to show off their in-season and cutest items. We recommend keeping an eye on them for inspiration.

    One key part of your holiday marketing to remember is making sure that your images are optimized and meet the needs of your customers. Think of all those stores with beautifully branded festive images and how much more inclined you are to buy from them. 

     

    2: What deals can you offer in terms of shipping?

    Maybe free shipping isn’t an option, but what if customers are spending over $100? In a survey conducted by BigCommerce, 80% of Americans cited shipping costs and speed of shipping as a major factor in determining where they shop, with 66% deciding not to buy entirely because of shipping costs. Even a small token to show that you understand this could be the difference between a sale or not.

    While you may not be able to offer free shipping, no matter the amount of a customer's purchase, perhaps you could offer it to local buyers and specific locations, or perhaps you simply offer fast-tracked shipping with a tracking code. What about free returns? Giving your customers a sense of security over their online purchases will make them feel even more justified in their choice to shop with you.

     

    Bobbie Dog's shipping information email

     

    Consider creating a seamless shipment and tracking system so that your customers feel your support, even at the busiest times of the year. One example of this as a store ad-on is Aftership. Basically, you’re giving the power back to your customer to follow where their item is at, and when to expect it. Cut yourself out at a middleman and forget the days of chasing couriers.

     

    Jevo Home Living using AfterShip to help customers track their orders

     

    3: Be clear about what your deal or sale terms are.

    Your customers are less likely to buy from your competitors if they feel the sense of urgency that the impending end of a sale brings, particularly if they’ve shopped with you before and trust you to look after them at such a busy time of year.

    While we’re talking sale ends, don’t be afraid of extending that sale as well. Sometimes giving people an extra dale to check your deals out is the extra push they need to make a purchase. There’s a lot of demand in the days that follow on from holidays – give your customers a little push and remind them why your products are worth the extra purchase.

    Giving a clear explanation of your timeline shows that you’re only doing this deal for a limited time, even if it’s a little beyond that of other store’s sales, says to your customers perhaps this is the best time for your customers to hunt down that item they’ve wanted for so long or to tick another item off their gift-list.

    It’s worth a quick mention that a flash sale or one-day deal isn’t outdated. With the rise of websites that offer a deal for just one day, there’s room to compete, just remember to keep it on theme. Cyber week means that it’s cyber exclusive so this is a great time to out some select items on sale and advertise them through your emails and social media with that theme present. BigCommerce agrees – it’s the prime time “to capture the target market’s attention and up-sell your other products.”

     

    4: Speaking of gift lists, why not spice up your blog as a form of gift guide?

    Gift guides were the go-to marketing form of 2017 and for good reason – they work! They’re a simple way to show off your most appealing, beautiful or theme-appropriate products and to funnel your customers to your site. They also boost customer confidence, which leads the way for customer loyalty.

    A shopping guide says to your customers, “I understand what you need, why you’re here and how I can make your life easiest for you.” It’s a low-key ‘look no-more’ that your customers will find easy to navigate, so the more inviting you make your gift guide, the more successful it’s likely to be. Besides, this is one of those cases where everyone is doing it, and you should too but because of that, you need to stand out.

    Check out this example from Anthropologie who have a whole landing page dedicated to ‘gifts’ that sits in their navigation. Their products are all beautifully displayed in a similar style with clean lighting, pastel backgrounds, and essential details.

     

    Anthropologie's Gift Guide

     

    Gift guides don’t need to be restricted to just your website, they make an effective email flow with a clear call to action that says ‘Shop now and score great deals on these products, and more!’. Great Lakes Northern Outfitters, a Minneapolis-based men's apparel store, did a great job of this last year. The following email shows a careful selection of their favorite items. They followed these up with links directly to the items which corresponded to the numbered item from the photo.

     

    The Horse's Christmas gift guide

     

    5: Create and promote a loyalty points system.

    Offering your frequent shoppers and brand-lovers an incentive to shop in the form of holiday season loyalty points is a simple way of winning customers back and developing customer loyalty. If you’re running a loyalty program (if not, check out Marsello’s easy-to-use loyalty program), you’ve already got access to a golden egg in the form of loyalty. If you haven’t tapped into this yet, make it a priority. As BigCommerce point out, customer loyalty is a multi-faceted focus point with long-game benefits.

    Customers love to feel special, so let them feel appreciated and looked after in the form of exclusive deals but look beyond the short few months of the holiday season. Use this busy time to direct your customers to your loyalty program, incentivize them to join with exclusive deals or a limited time points bonus for first-time buyers who sign up.

    It can be tricky to know what deals or offers will best benefit your store in particular. Marsello has you covered here too! Marsello includes smart suggestions to recommend the optimal reward settings for your particular store, offering your customers the ideal rewards.

    Our top tip? Make sure that you can keep up with that marketing from now until the end of your promotional period.

    Automation is the best way to do this – take some of the pressure off yourself by scheduling as much of your marketing as you can. Clearly branded email campaigns with simple, enticing call-to-actions, scheduled SMS campaigns, boosted campaigns, loyalty points promotions are all ways that you can ramp up your marketing... and, let's be real here, a little planning before the madness begins can go a long way to easing the stress of a busy holiday period.

    Just remember the key is to show off your brand in a stand-out, flattering and appealing way. Offer deals where possible, and give your customers incentive to remain loyal throughout the rest of the holiday season.

    And if you haven’t gotten a head-start on your holiday marketing yet, get started with a deep-dive into campaigns and the templates library.

     

    Learn more about campaigns

    6 Ways to Increase Employee Productivity

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    Happy workers are every employer’s dream. When your employees are satisfied and love what they do, they will continuously bring their A-game…

    A women serves a man from behind a shop counter.

     

    Happy workers are every employer’s dream. When your employees are satisfied and love what they do, they will continuously bring their A-game and achieve great results.


    Needless to say, keeping your employees happy is a must.

     

    In addition to compensating them fairly, you should also have a rewards system in place to further motivate your team. Now, for a business owner, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out the best reward for your employees. Every business is unique after all!

    But to help you figure it out, here are some tips to consider:

     

     

    1. Good old fashion gratitude

     

    It may not seem like much, but simply expressing how much you appreciate your employees can go a long way. A gratitude survey conducted for the John Templeton Foundation found that “70 percent [of respondents] would feel better about themselves if their boss were more grateful and 81 percent would work harder.”

    However, here’s the thing: it appears that there’s a gratitude gap in the workplace, because while the vast majority of people want to be appreciated, a mere “10% expressed gratitude to their colleagues every day,” and “60% say they either never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year.”

    Don’t be part of the majority of people who don’t express their gratitude enough in the workplace. Instead, strive to create a workplace culture that encourages appreciation among colleagues. 

    Here are some suggestions: 

    • Set the right example. If you’re a business owner or manager, take the lead when it comes to expressing appreciation. Other employees will soon follow suit. 

    • Find the unsung heroes. Trying to decide who to thank? Start with the silent types. Find those employees who keep their heads down and produce great work. 

    • Create a public gratitude journal. That’s what the Administration and Finance office of UC Berkeley did. They set up a public ‘kudos website’ that displayed messages of appreciation. You can implement a simpler version of this, using a bulletin board in the workplace. 

    • Be personal and sincere. Steer clear of generic compliments or messages. Find a unique employee characteristic that you’re genuinely grateful for, then express your appreciation! 

    • Take your staff out for lunch or a morning coffee. Spending some one-on-one time with your staff is a great way to show you appreciate them. It also helps you get a better understanding of their day-to-day working environment, and pick up on ways to improve your business. 

     

    2. Pizza, anyone?

     

    Just like gratitude, a free meal or snack doesn’t cost much, but it can make a huge difference. If you’re looking for an easy way to reward your best employees, treat them to lunch or a box pizza.

    Research has shown that free food (particularly pizza) might be even more effective in boosting productivity than monetary rewards. 

    The Cut cites an interesting experiment involving the staff at a semiconductor factory at Intel in Israel. For the experiment, workers were divided into four groups: 

    • One group received a message promising them a pizza voucher. 

    • One group received a message promising that they will get a compliment from their boss. - One group received a message promising a cash bonus of 100 NIS (around $30) 

    • One group didn’t receive any messages. They served as the control group for the experiment. 

    The results of this were surprising. According to The Cut: After the first day, pizza proved to be the top motivator, increasing productivity by 6.7 percent over the control group, thereby just barely edging out the promise of a compliment (in the form of a text message from the boss that said ‘Well done!’). Those in the compliment condition increased their productivity by 6.6 percent as compared to the control group. But the worst motivator, much to the company’s surprise, was the cash bonus, which increased productivity by just 4.9 percent as compared to the control group. 

    It’s interesting to note that cash was the worst motivator of the bunch, and it demonstrates that cash isn’t necessarily ‘king’ when it comes to employee rewards. This isn’t to say that money isn’t important; it should still be a factor, of course. However, as an employer or boss, you should also recognize that money isn’t everything. You need to incorporate other elements into your employee rewards strategy.

     

     

    3. Time off and flexibility

     

    A Fractl survey of 2,000 people found that job seekers ranked ‘more flexible hours’ and ‘more vacation time’ as the second and third most important benefits when considering jobs (the first was better health benefits).

     

    Published graph about the considerations people make when deciding about jobs

     

    Clearly, time off and flexibility are important to today’s workforce. If you’re able to offer more flexible hours and schedules to your staff, by all means, do so. Your team will love you for it. 

     

     

     

    4. Free or discounted merch

     

    Be generous with your staff discounts and freebies. Aside from being a great token of appreciation, giving your team access to your merchandise also helps their product knowledge.

    Case in point: I recently had a positive customer service experience when I went into a store to buy a new pair jeans. After being greeted by a staff member, I was given personalized help and information about the different jeans I was trying on. 

    The associate gave me specific advice and input about each pair. She knew which products didn’t stretch too much and she had some great product care tips to share. 

    When I complimented her on her deep product knowledge, she explained that her boss gives her different items of clothing to try out when they get new stock. 

    Consider doing similar in your store. Give your employees free (or heavily discounted) merch. In addition to keeping them happy, you’re also helping them get to know your products better. That, in turn, leads to better shopper interactions and happier customers. Win-win. 

     

     

     

    5. Personalized rewards

     

    Do you want to provide a token that really stands out? Then tailor your reward to each specific employee. 

    For example, if you know that your store manager enjoys musicals, why not get them free tickets to the hottest Broadway show? Do you have an associate who’s expecting her first child? Give her a baby care basket. 

    Get to know your employees, figure out what they like, and come up with the appropriate rewards.

    One useful tool that could help you get the hang of creating captivating and appropriate rewards is Canva’s Certificate Maker.

    Consider ideas like gift certificates – a piece of paper given by the retailers to their employees and customers which can be used in exchanging goods and services. Some eCommerce sites offer digital gift certificates to cater to a bigger audience with varied preferences. Retailers also use certificates as a reward for employees for their hard work and are sometimes given to their top customers as a gift of appreciation.

    For a wide array of designs, Canva Certificate Template is an online tool that can be used by retailers or eCommerce sites in creating more appealing gift cards for their employees and customers.

     

     

     

    6. Recognition

     

    For obvious reasons, recognizing and calling out someone for a job well done motivates them to do even more stellar work. So be sure to recognize your team members whenever they do something great.

    We should also note, though, that recognition shouldn’t just come from the top. While it’s good to know that the boss recognizes great work, it’s equally important for an employee to feel recognized by his or her peers. 

    The people that someone works with day-to-day have a big impact on their morale and output. So it makes perfect sense that being recognized by their peers can do wonders for productivity and performance.

    So, encourage peer-to-peer recognition. You can do this in your staff meeting or sales huddles. Ask your staff to name team members they think are doing really well and help spread some good vibes all around.

     

     

    What’s the best way to reward your staff?

     

    We just gave you a bunch of ideas on how to reward your employees. The question is, which method is right for you? The short answer is it depends. There’s no one-size-fits-all rewards system, since each business and work environment is different.

     

    Infographic of how of men and women weigh up job-based perks

     

    You need to factor in the personality types of your staff or even their gender. Frac.tl found that men and women prefer different types of rewards, so you need to take that into consideration as well. 

    The bottom line? To find out which types of employee rewards work best, have a think about what makes sense of your staff and business. You may need to test a few tactics to really figure out what works, and keep at it. 


     

    Final words

     

    Building a great working culture is about appreciating and encouraging your staff, and enabling them to be advocates for your business. 

    Your staff are the face of your business, so by creating a supportive environment that actively notices and rewards great work, you’re not only doing your staff a favor, you’re also paving the way for a better customer experience and business overall.

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