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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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    Loyalty Program Designs to Increase Customer Loyalty

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    Learn how to showcase your brand with loyalty widget and tab designs that stand out on your online store while complimenting your branding.

    Promotional GIF of Marsello's loyalty widget.

     

    Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to improve retail customer experiences. And the design of your loyalty program matters! To ensure engagement and sign-ups, loyalty program designs need to be simple, eye-catching, and above all show your customers what’s in it for them. From understanding what makes a strong loyalty program, to widget designs that actually convert, this guide will help you design a loyalty program that your customers rave about. 

     

    What makes a strong loyalty program?

     

    The best loyalty programs are win-win; you and your customers should both benefit from the exchange. 

    Improving customer service and experience might actually be making you money. There are a lot of long-term benefits of growing lifetime loyalty and adding extra touchpoints to make sure your customers feel appreciated.

    When designing your loyalty program, there are a few key features that will give you a competitive edge:

     

        • Simplicity for customers - Don’t make them work for it. Using a loyalty program design software like Marsello helps you integrate on-brand widgets and automated marketing campaigns to make it easy for customers to redeem points 
        • Emotional connection with your brand - You need to create customer buy-in. One way is to give your loyalty program a unique name that builds a community around it. For example, Our Bralette Club uses a play on slang to playfully name their program the Peach Party
        • Multiple touchpoints with customers - This includes omnichannel marketing systems like email, SMS, and social media, as well as loyal programs that let customers sign up and redeem points both online and in-store
        • Touchpoints outside of transactions - Successful loyalty programs foster interactions with customers that aren’t just transactional. Create a community that is fun, desirable, and invites them in!

     

    Want to know more? Check out these examples of great loyalty programs.

     

    Benefits of rewarding your loyal customers 

     

    Building retail loyalty is a long-term, sometimes difficult process. So what are the actual benefits of investing in a great loyalty program design? Firstly, it of course builds customer loyalty. 75% of consumers say they favor companies that offer some kind of reward system. 

    Secondly, loyalty programs increase your revenue. Just one of many examples is size-inclusive lingerie brand Our Bralette Club (OBC). By cultivating positive customer experiences with freebies and discounts in their loyalty program, OBC increased their revenue by 278% through their program members alone.

    Next, a good loyalty program design improves customer retention. Loyalty programs give your business an opportunity to improve relationships with customers outside of transactions. Research shows that even a small increase of 5% in retention can boost profits by 25-95%.

    Lastly, it helps to create a community around your brand. With community comes customer buy-in, and with emotional buy-in comes referrals. Referral marketing is invaluable for any scaling business, and it starts with customer-centric strategies like loyalty programs. 

     

    KPIs to Measure Your Customer Loyalty 

     

    It’s not enough to pick a customer loyalty model and wait for it to grow. You need to measure your customer loyalty program over time! How? By measuring the right KPIs and investing in customer relationships long term. 

    1. Net Promoter Score 

    A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a score of how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to a friend or family member. A person with a positive Net Promoter Score (i.,e. they would promote your business to their friends) has a lifetime value of up to 1400% more than someone who wouldn’t promote your business. 

    Measuring NPS as part of your loyalty program KPIs will give you a fairly good indication of whether customers are engaged and loyal to your brand. 

     

    2. Customer Loyalty Index

    A customer loyalty index is similar to an NPS score. It takes customer surveys, their purchase history, and their purchase intent for the future to measure their loyalty to your brand. 

    Tracking loyalty in this way is useful because it combines loyalty with other measurable factors such as retention and churn rate.

     

    3. Repurchase Ratio 

    A repurchase ratio compares the number of repeat customers to the number of one-off customers. Not only will you identify loyal, returning customers, you will also get an idea of which customers are maybe seasonal for marketing purposes. 

    In general, 65% of a company’s revenue comes from existing customers. That is why tracking customers who are repurchasing is so important. Not only does repurchasing show loyalty to your brand, it indicates an effective marketing strategy. Revenue up, cost of new acquisitions down! 



    Examples of great customer loyalty program designs

     

    With loyalty program software like Marsello, you have infinite design options. Whether you want to show off your brand, invite new customers into your community, or increase engagement and retention, Marsello has got you covered. 

    Check out some of our favorite examples of loyalty program widgets below!


    What are loyalty widgets and how can they show off your brand

    Widgets are used in place of loyalty explainer pages and are readily available on retailers’ eCommerce stores or through email updates that brick-and-mortar loyalty customers receive. With widgets being a core representation of your loyalty program, we know how important it is that they embody your store’s brand, and to help you customize widgets that really show off your store.

    Let’s take a look at each of the available design options within Marsello and how some of our favorite retailers have integrated them into their website and branding.

     

    Center panel

    Having your loyalty widget pop up in the center of your screen ensures that it's front-and-center when your customers curiously check out your store’s loyalty options. They can easily navigate through your rewards and how they can earn points, ensuring that they feel informed and that your rewards are easily attainable.

    Check out what Wellington-based retailer, Smack Bang, has done with their outstanding designs and generous loyalty program. With offers such as discounts on orders and free shipping, the team at Smack Bang are ensuring that their customers keep coming back to earn points and redeem rewards, while also offering a referral program that ensures they continue to acquire new customers who fit a similar customer profile to their current customers.

     

    Marsello-Smack-Bang-Success-Story-Loyalty-Program-1

    Floating Panel

    This widget design slides in from the side of the viewer’s screen. With smaller image size options, rounded corners, and a ‘floating’ appearance, this eye-catching display will be sure to inform and entice customers. 


    We love what Good Dog has done with their widget design, opting for a cute dog-bone print as their primary image and including their store name. With a simple set of percentage discounts as their rewards, Good Dog makes it easy for their customers to earn rewards, and to decide which rewards they’d like to redeem.

    Marsello-Loyalty-Widget

     

    Slide Panel

    Similar to the floating panel, this crisp design was created with sharp lines, defined corners, and sitting flush against the side of the page of an online store. You’ll notice that the image option for this widget is also small, creating a compact widget that suits fresh, clean branding. NatureMills, a Californian natural and organic food retailer, is a wonderful example of this widget style with clean, on-brand imagery and colors, generous rewards, and simple design choices. 

     

    NatureMills' Slide Panel loyalty widget on a green background.

     

    Loyalty tabs to encourage customer interaction

    The loyalty tab is also customizable! This great little addition to your store is the initial view that customers have of your loyalty program. It encourages them to explore your loyalty options, shop with you time and time again, and know when they can next redeem a reward or earn points. The tab is like a sign saying, “Welcome, come on in’, to your potential and current loyalty customers.

    Let’s take a quick look at the new design types.

    Resting

    The resting tab is a rectangular shape with rounded upper corners. You can add an icon and/or text to this tab style and design where it will sit on your online store, although its placement is restricted to the edges of the screen, this means that your customer will always be able to see the tab as it’s connected to the edge of your online store.

    Marsello’s ‘Resting’ loyalty tab.

    Circle


    The circular tab is smaller than the other options, designed to be discreet yet eye-catching. It floats on your online store which means that you can place it almost anywhere on your online store and it will ‘float’ down the page as the customer scrolls. Although you can add an icon to this tab, you cannot add text.

    Marsello’s ‘Circle’ loyalty tab at the bottom of Loretta's homepage.


    Floating

    The floating tab design is rectangular and features rounded corners; it’s also ‘floating’. With the ability to add both text and/or icons, this tab is a great way to attract customers to your rewards through a call-to-action such as ‘see our rewards’.

    Marsello’s ‘Floating’ loyalty tab at the bottom right of Good Dog's homepage


    Final words:

    If you haven’t yet had the opportunity, check out the loyalty widget and tab design options and start creating the widget of your dreams! 

    To learn how to make the most out of your loyalty marketing, check out The Loyalty Marketing Guide: 8 Strategies for Gaining Customers for Life.

     

    Read Guide

    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. 

     

    How to Improve Email Deliverability: 9 Proven Steps

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    Ensure your emails are delivering exactly how you expect and learn how to stay out of your customers’ spam folders with our 9 tips for deliverability.

    marsello-blog-Improve-Email-Deliverability-banner.jpg

    We talk about email marketing quite a bit here on the Marsello blog, and for good reason – it continues to be one of the most effective ways to drive sales and engagement for retail brands. That’s why it’s so important to continuously build your list, optimize your copy, and run winning campaigns.

     

    However, all the optimization in the world won’t help you if your messages aren’t being delivered. And the truth is that a significant chunk (20% according to Return Path) of emails don’t even reach the inbox. 

     

    But you don’t have to be part of that statistic. By implementing the right steps and best practices, you can maximize your email deliverability and ensure that your messages actually hit the inbox of your audience. 

     

    Read on to learn exactly what you need to do. 

     

    1. Improve your email sender reputation

    Think of your customers’ inbox as an exclusive club that bans shady characters. When the gatekeepers deem a sender as having a poor reputation, their messages are sent to the spam folder. 

    When it comes to sender reputation, email service providers typically look at two things: your IP reputation and your domain reputation. 

     

    Here’s a breakdown of these two components and how you can improve them.

     

    IP reputation

    Emails are sent from an IP address – a unique identifier that ties a device to a specific network. Think of it a bit like a fingerprint for your emails. It tracks where emails come from, the reputation of that ESP (email service provider) and the email account itself. If you have a reputation of sending spammy emails, there’s a good chance that messages sent from that IP will be automatically flagged as spam and your emails won’t land front and center in your customers’ inboxes.

    In the world of eCommerce and physical store email marketing, brands can send emails using a customized domain name if their marketing provider has this function (Marsello makes this easy for retailers. Learn more here).

     

    How can you improve your IP reputation?

    Marsello-created graphic of a computer monitor with tick embedded over it

    Choose a good email marketing platform – If you’re opting for a custom domain (also sometimes referred to as a shared IP address), make sure you’re using a reputable email marketing platform. The best-in-class email marketing companies work hard to keep the reputation of their IP addresses in top shape by giving their users the tools and education they need to comply with anti-spam laws. 

     

    Most email marketing platforms also have systems that prevent abuse and spam. Marsello, for example, has an abuse-prevention system called SpamAssassin, which checks for spam traps, abuse complaints, and hard bounces.

    Marsello-created graph of inclining graph

    Gradually build up your IP’s reputation over time – If you’re using a dedicated IP address for your email marketing efforts, you’ll need to build and maintain its reputation yourself. 

     

    Much like with building financial credit, developing a solid IP reputation entails having a solid track record of sending high-quality emails. This means having high open rates and minimal spam flags from recipients. 

     

    If you’re using a new IP address for your emails, you can build up its reputation by only sending messages to a small but active list of people who love your brand. This will help boost your engagement metrics, which sends the message that you’re a high-quality sender.

     

    In turn, this boosts your reputation, which ultimately increases your email deliverability. 

    Marsello-created graphic. An outline of a person with a smiley-face in a conversation bubble.

    Monitor your reputation – If you’re suffering from poor email deliverability and you think your IP address is the culprit, then use a tool like Sender Score to check the IP’s rep. 

    Sender Score lets you enter an IP address, and its system will score it based on how reputable it is. The higher the score the better the reputation. 

    Sender Score's homepage allows you to check the sender reputation for your web domain

    Domain reputation

    When it comes to domain reputation, your messages are evaluated based on your sending domain, instead of, or in addition to your IP address.

     

    Email service providers have different metrics for evaluating messages, but Gmail (arguably the #1 email provider in the world) seems to favor domain reputation over IP. 

    How can you improve your domain reputation?

    Build up a good rep – A good domain reputation must be earned. Just like with building your IP rep, your domain needs to come across as reputable and high-quality for email service providers to not flag it as spam.

     

    You can do this by sending high-quality messages to an engaged user base and increasing your metrics over time. 

     

    Monitor your domain reputation – Check your domain reputation using a tool like MX Lookup Tool, which checks a domain against common blacklists. 

    MX Lookup also allows you to check your domain reputation.

    2. Steer clear of spam traps

    Spam traps are email addresses used by email service providers to catch malicious senders. They look just like a typical email address, but they’re not used by a real person. Their only purpose is to catch spam, so when a person or company sends a message to a spam trap email, the provider can flag or blacklist the sender. 

     

    There are a number of ways that providers can set up spam traps. They include:

     

    Pristine traps – A common one is called a pristine spam trap, which is an email address that is publicly displayed on a website BUT isn't visible to normal users. Pristine traps are meant to capture bots that are scraping the web for email addresses. 

     

    Expired or inactive email addresses – These are email addresses that have been deactivated by the company that issued them or by email service providers. In some cases, companies and providers may decide to reactivate these email addresses for the purposes of catching spam. 

    How to avoid spam traps

    Spam trap email addresses can sometimes end up on the list of senders with good intentions. Here’s how you can ensure that your list stays spam-trap free:

     

    Don’t purchase email lists – The email addresses that end up on lists for sale are often obtained through unethical means (like scraping the web). When you buy a list, you may end up with a handful of spam trap emails on your hands.

     

    Clean up your lists regularly – A great way to make sure that you don’t have spam trap emails on your list is to prune it. Identify emails that have no engagement over the last six months or so, then remove them from your list. 

     

    You should also clean up email addresses that have returned a hard bounce (i.e., when emails are undeliverable). Hard bounces indicate that an email address is no longer valid, and should thus be removed from your list. Some email marketing platforms do this for you automatically, so check with your provider to see if this is a feature they offer. 

     

    3. Make it easy for people to opt-out

    Giving people an easy way to opt-out seems counter-intuitive, because most email marketers want to keep people on their list. 

     

    However, making users jump through too many hoops just to unsubscribe is doing you more harm than good.

     

    Here’s why:

     

    When people can’t easily unsubscribe from your emails, they may end up marking it as spam – which, as you already know, will hurt your email deliverability. 

     

    So, resist the urge to hide the unsubscribe button. Instead, have a clear, clickable link on all your messages, and allow your subscribers to opt-out in just a click or two. 

     

    Check out this footer from the email of PetConnect. A standard location for the unsubscribe button is at the bottom of the footer, and PetConnect keep it simple. The last piece of their email gives readers the option to unsubscribe. While it’s not advertised and encouraging for customers, it is easy to find, underlined and simple to understand. Although with emails that cute, who’d really want to unsubscribe?

    PetConnect adds an 'unsubscribe' button to the bottom of their emails.

    4. Customize your ‘from’ name / sender field

    One of the reasons you may have poor email engagement rates is that people don’t recognize you when your messages hit their inbox. When users don’t know the sender, they’re more likely to delete the message without reading it, or worse, mark it as spam. 

     

    That’s why you should ensure that your sender name is consistent with your brand and is easily recognizable by users. 

     

    If you’re marketing yourself as “Bloom Skincare” then you shouldn’t send messages from “Jane Smith”. Instead, have your brand name in the “from” field of your emails – i.e., “Jane from Bloom Skincare” or “The Bloom Skincare Team”.

     

    This email from CAUSEBOX serves as an excellent example of a retailer that uses a real person behind each email, while still including their brand name.

     

    A CAUSEBOX email sent from Hannah at CAUSEBOX

    5. Avoid misleading subject lines

    Another temptation you may have is to write intriguing or exciting subject lines without having content or offers that actually live up to the hype. 

     

    Avoid this tactic at all costs. 

     

    While ‘creative’ subject lines may get people to open your message, they will likely mark your email as spam if the content doesn’t deliver on the subject line’s promises. 

     

    Instead, find ways to write exciting subject lines while still being upfront with the email’s content. 

    Take a look at the following email from GILT, an ecommerce site that sells luxury goods. The subject line – $99.99 Sunglasses SALE. Believe your eyes – is straightforward and tells customers exactly what they’re getting. But it’s also cleverly written and compelling because, well… who doesn’t like $99 designer sunglasses?

    GILT's sunglasses

    6. Don’t use spammy words

    Another subject line tip? Avoid spam-trigger words, phrases, and characters. 

     

    Hubspot and Simply Cast shared a long list of words and phrases to avoid, but here are the top ones that apply to retail and ecommerce:

    • Words like “FREE!,” “Guarantee,” and “Clearance”

    • Using ALL CAPS

    • Having “RE:” when it’s not a reply

    • One-word subject lines

    • Excessive use of exclamation points (!!!)

    • Excessive use of characters like “$$$”

    • Excessive use of emojis

    7. Stick to a consistent email schedule

    Irregular sending patterns can raise flags, so strive to find the best sending schedule that works for you, and avoid changing things up too often. 

     

    There are no one-size-fits-all rules when it comes to when to send emails and how often to do it. Since every company is different, you need to find a time and frequency that resonates with your audience. 

     

    One way to do is to gradually test out different sending patterns and frequencies, then measuring the performance of your messages. 

     

    When you find a good email sending pattern, stick with it. 

    8. Send emails that people love

    We’ve covered the tech-related side of increasing email deliverability, and while the tips above are solid best practices, they won’t guarantee that your messages will be seen and opened. 

     

    At the end of the day, the best way to boost the deliverability of your messages is to send emails that people open and click regularly. 

     

    How can you do that?

     

    Simple; send messages that your subscribers love.

     

    Create content that’s so compelling, people actually look forward to hearing from you. It’s a simple tip, but it’s not always easy to do, particularly when you’re competing with hundreds (if not thousands) of other brands for people’s attention. 

     

    Follow these pointers and examples on how to send messages that subscribers can’t help but click:

     

    Keep it super relevant

    Segment your customers based on their demographic details and shopping behavior, and use that data to inform your email marketing. 

     

    For instance, if you know that a shopper has kids, then you can send them mom-centric emails. Or, if you keep track of the purchase histories of your customers, you can leverage their data to craft email content and offers based on their profile. 

     

    Stitch Fix did this really well when it launched its kids line, Stitch Fix Kids. The subscription service reached out to members who ordered maternity clothes and sent them an exclusive invite to the service.

    marsello-blog-Improve-Email-Deliverability-keep-it-relevant.jpg

    Ask for their input

    Requesting for customer feedback doesn’t just help you gather more intel, it also shows that you value your customers’ opinions. Most shoppers – 71% according to this study – are happy to offer their feedback when asked. So, these types of messages will likely generate higher engagement (which is great for email deliverability – yay)!

     

    Buda Juice, a speciality pressed juices distributor, puts this tip to good use. The company sends feedback requests to customers to measure their satisfaction. Buda Juice crafts messages that are easy to read and act on, so the whole customer experience is smooth and convenient.

    A BudaJuice email which contacts customer feedback prompts

    Send a timely message

     

    Use different events and holidays as opportunities to engage with your audience. If you haven’t done so yet, create a marketing calendar with events throughout the year, and then craft seasonal content for each occasion. 

     

    Need help doing this? We've put together a calendar schedule highlighting best days and times to send your holiday email campaigns to make sure you never miss an opportunity. Download it for free here.

    Marsello's holiday email marketing schedule

    Here’s another tip: keep track of each customer’s birthday and send them a timely perk that they can use on their special day.

     

    Australian clothing retailer, Búl, for example, sends members of its rewards program a $20 voucher 7 days before their birthday. To make sure customers don’t miss out on the deal, Búl also sends them an email on the day of the customer’s birthday and then a final email to remind them to use the $20 voucher. The final two emails of this flow also include product recommendations designed to pique customers’ interest and get the shopping. Read more on the success of Búl’s Happy Birthday Email Flow in their recent case study.

     

    marsello-blog-Improve-Email-Deliverability-bui.jpg

    Pro tip: did you know that you can use Marsello to reward your customers on their birthday? When you set up "Happy Birthday Rewards" on your loyalty program, you’ll be able to automatically award birthday celebrants with extra perks on their birthday!

     

    9. Analyze your email marketing reports

    You know what they say: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

     

    The same thing applies to email deliverability. If you want to increase your deliverability rate, then you need to track the performance of your campaigns. 

     

    In particular, you should keep an eye on:

    Open rates – This will shed light on the performance of your subject lines, so you can determine if your copy is getting people interested in reading the rest of your emails. 

     

    Click-to-open-rate (CTOR) – CTOR measure the number of unique clicks relative to the number of unique opens. It's a good measure of how an email's content has performed. A high CTOR could indicate that your subject line and email copy are working well together and reaching the right people. Conversely, a low CTOR could mean that your email copy isn't resonating with readers and there might be a disconnect between the subject line and content of the email. 

     

    Bounce rates – Pay attention to email bounces – particularly hard bounces, because these indicate that an email address is invalid. You want to remove those emails from your list ASAP to avoid falling into spam traps. 

     

    Final words

    You need to take a number of steps to improve email deliverability, and while some of them aren’t sexy, they are absolutely necessary if you want to land on your customers’ inbox.

     

    If you haven’t done so yet, take the time to evaluate your email marketing efforts. Check your reputation, clean up your email list, and review your content calendar to ensure that you’re sending top-notch messages. 

     

    If you do the above consistently, you’ll not only boost your email deliverability, but you’ll increase your reputation and engagement in the process!

     

    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. 

    How to Grow Customer Loyalty With Birthday Rewards

    ClockIcon  READ
    Learn the essentials about rewarding your customers on their birthdays and discover the benefits of a generous loyalty program.
     

    Did you know that you can use Marsello’s loyalty program feature to reward points to customers for making another journey around the sun? Follow the steps here to drastically improve your customer retention rate by helping shoppers feel special on their birthday.

    Improve your customer retention infographic

     

    Fun fact: a 5% increase in customer loyalty can increase your average profit per customer by 25-95%.

     

    Step 1: Collect Birthday Info

    Before you can celebrate a birthday, you need to know when it is! If your customers sign up for your loyalty program online, they’ll have the option to add their birthday when completing their profile; if they subscribe to your mailing list via a signup form, you’ll have to include the option when designing your form.

     

    Step 2: Set Up Your Loyalty Program

    In your app navigation, go to ‘Loyalty’ and click on ‘Loyalty Widget’. Take your time here to design a really eye-popping widget that matches your branding, and gets your customers excited to sign up. Include your logo, choose photos that showcase your products, and select a layout that will look great on your website. Make sure to also customize the ‘Tab’ section here, as this is the first thing site visitors will see of your new Loyalty Program! Learn how to create a loyalty program with Marsello.

     

    PRO TIP: Try a tabless program and include more details and design.

     

     

     

    Once you’re happy with the design, click ‘Save & Publish’ and check out how the live widget looks on your website.

    For more help setting up your program, check out this section of our Help Center and read our loyalty guide, The Loyalty Marketing Guide: 7 Strategies for Gaining Customers for Life.

     

    Step 3: Turn On Happy Birthday Rewards

    Now that you’ve designed your widget, it’s time to enable your loyalty settings and start rewarding customers. Back in the navigation, go to ‘Loyalty’ and click ‘Earning Points and Referrals’. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on the ‘Member birthday’ option, but read through each possible action and turn on whichever suits your business.

     

    PRO TIP: 'Making a purchase' and 'Referring friends' are two powerful options you should have turned on. 'Making a purchase' rewards customers for shopping with you; 'Referring friends' rewards them for bringing you more customers! Win-win.

     

    Next to the ‘Member birthday’ option, click the toggle to switch from ‘Off’ to ‘On’. Here, you’ll decide how many points to award for this action, and whether or not there’s a minimum enrolment period. Click ‘Save’ when you’re happy with your settings to set it live.

    If you ever want to see how many people have gotten points for their birthday, simply navigate back to this page and click on ‘See Activity’. This will take you to a list of customers who have received birthday points.

     

    Step 4: Loyalty Program Marketing

    Your loyalty program can be a really powerful sales and marketing tool. Loyalty programs are proven to improve customer retention rates, and even a small increase of 5% in retention can boost profits by a whopping 25-95%.

    Now that you’ve built your program, this is where email, content, and social media marketing come in. Here are some of the most effective ways to market your new loyalty program, and let current and future customers know they can expect a truly rewarding experience with your business:

    When you add a new option for collecting points, such as the Happy Birthday reward, don’t be afraid to make a big fuss, and to use your favorite tactics from this list to get the word out. Remember: customers love to know what you and your brand can do for them, and the more opportunities you can create to help them feel special, the better.

     

    Turn on Birthday RewardsGET MARSELLO

    Rewards and Promotions: Treat Your Customers on Their Birthday [2024]

    ClockIcon  READ
    How do you know it’s worthwhile to reward customers for milestones like their birthday? Read on to learn more about marketing with rewards and promotions.

    Updated 30 May 2024.

    Here's a fun (and likely unsurprising) fact: the vast majority of people like celebrating their birthdays. Research cited by Benefits and Pensions Monitor shows that 89.4% of Americans enjoy celebrating birthdays, and 90.1% say birthday gifts help them feel more valued. 

    So, it is no surprise that birthday marketing — specifically, birthday email marketing campaigns — perform incredibly well. According to MarketingProfs, "open rates for birthday mailings were over three times higher than for mass-promotion mailings sent to the same clients: 56.2% vs. 16.8%."

    These numbers tell us that birthday email campaigns can be a huge treat – for both customers and brands. So, it's worth investing the time and effort to make your birthday initiatives shine. Read on for ideas and tips on how to do just that.

    Listen to this post:

     

    What are the benefits of birthday rewards for your business?

    The most significant benefit of birthday rewards programs is that they are a win-win strategy. They focus on the buyer experience, which benefits your best customers while simultaneously increasing revenue and loyalty.  

    There are several vital reasons why birthday rewards should be part of your overall loyalty program strategy:

    Boost customer loyalty

    Firstly, birthday rewards programs increase customer loyalty. 84% of customers opt to stay with a brand that surprises them and takes a customer-centric approach. Who doesn't like being spoiled on their birthday? 

    Improve customer retention

    Loyalty programs (that include things like birthday surprises) are proven to improve customer retention rates. Even a slight increase of 5% in retention can boost profits by 25-95%.

    Gain valuable customer data

    Birthday reward campaigns enable you to collect data and insights into customer behavior. You can, for example, track birthday purchases and redemption rates, which can help you tailor future marketing efforts.

    By adding birthday rewards to an existing loyalty program, you can personalize customer experiences, gather data on which campaigns resonate with which customers, and re-target loyal customers who redeem rewards.

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

    Customer loyalty webinar - how to earn loyalty

    Examples of birthday email campaigns and rewards

    When you do it right, birthday campaigns and rewards can improve customer retention, loyalty, and engagement. Whether it's sending birthday emails, creating specialty coupons, giving out freebies, or something a little more creative, these examples hit the nail on the head. 

    Send a one-off special discount and build excitement

    This is a low-hanging fruit of birthday rewards. When implemented correctly, special discounts are known to yield quick results and valuable data. If you're new to birthday campaigns, consider starting things off with a special discount that shoppers can use during the month of their birthday.

    It's simple, straightforward, and easy to test. Just make sure to create unique promo codes for each celebrant so you can track who's redeeming your offers.

    For example, Target's birthday email, which is sent to members of the Target Circle program, contains a coupon for 5% off the customer's entire purchase.

    happy birthday gift from target circle

    Offer free products on special occasions

    Alternatively, you can give shoppers a freebie on their special day. Some examples of brands that offer birthday freebies include Starbucks and Sephora. Birthday freebies are growing increasingly common. Australian burger joint Hello Harry's openly offers its customers a free birthday burger… with a small caveat that protects the business—the birthday burgers are free up to the value of $12.

    Hello Harrys free burger birthday offer website banner

    Freebies are a great option if you want to encourage your customers to try your products or if you have samples and surplus stock to give away.

    Offer creative rewards to encourage engagement

    Here's the not-so-great reality of loyalty or rewards programs: while many consumers sign up for them, not everyone participates in all the programs they join. 

    A 2018 survey found that almost "two-thirds of respondents actively engage with less than half the loyalty programs to which they are members." The survey found that only 18% actively engage with all their rewards programs.

    If your loyalty or rewards program suffers from low engagement rates, consider incorporating birthday rewards to stir things up. When implemented correctly, this tactic can fuel engagement among your members and put your brand back on their radar.

    Anna Beck, a Shopify Plus-powered jewelry store with multiple resellers and stores, has done a great job at subtly incorporating birthday rewards into its loyalty program to incentivize customers but not create so much buzz that they risk sign-ups for just that reason.

    Members of the program automatically get 20 points on their birthday, but with 100 points for creating a profile and 25 for completing their profile information, it's easy to see how customers quickly earn enough points to reap the rewards.

    Thanks to Marsello, Anna Beck has experienced a 728.33% increase in revenue, directly attributable to its loyalty program. Even better, the brand has developed a comprehensive understanding of its customer database and how to convert them into loyal customers. The team had this to say about developing their loyalty program with Marsello:

    "​​Through the data, we've found that we have incredibly loyal customers. Once they make their second purchase, they are highly likely to be lifelong customers. Marsello allows us to easily reward those loyal customers for sticking around, it was a no-brainer. Anna Beck has only been an online retail brand for a handful of years, and a loyalty program was the natural next step."

    Another great example comes from Smack Bang. The Wellington-based pet products specialist is one brand that's using a powerful loyalty program to its advantage. With a 100% engagement rate and 6x ROI, the addition of loyalty marketing to SmackBang's all-over marketing tech stack really helps the company capture customers' attention time and time again.

    Smack-Bang-Earn-Options

    Loyalty members earn points for actions such as creating a profile, referring a friend, reviewing products, making purchases, and engaging on social media. Benefits include % discounts and first looks at product releases. 

    The Smack Bang team keeps loyalty program members updated with emails regarding product releases, business updates, sales, events, and more! By maintaining regular contact with their customers, they set the expectation that the more loyal a customer is, the better deals they'll get. And we love that SB lives up to this expectation!

    Create a sense of mystery and surprise your customers 

    Want to keep shoppers on their toes or still trying to figure out which reward type is the best option? Consider offering a range of rewards and surprises that your customers can enjoy during their birthday month.

    That's what the lingerie retailer ThirdLove is doing. Members of their 'Hooked' loyalty program get an annual free birthday gift, which remains a surprise until the customer's special day. According to the company's website:

    "We're not ones to spoil a surprise! While we won't tell exactly what they are, they'll change regularly and might be a freebie, a discount, or a little something special just for you."

    Surprise freebies are a wonderful way to keep your customers excited, but our tip? Don't be tempted to fall into the trap of 'pawning off' your hard-to-sell stock on these customers. Make sure your birthday freebies are worth the hype and keep shoppers wanting more.

    Celebrate your business’s birthday and say thanks to your customers

    A nice twist to the concept of birthday rewards is to celebrate your brand’s birthday. This is a good way to mark an important milestone, and it gives you the opportunity to thank customers – both new and old.

    Bare Wholefoods, a Sydney-based cafe, did just that when they celebrated their 4th birthday. 

    Bare-Wholefoods-Birthday-Email-Discount-Code

    To mark the occasion, Bare Wholefoods sent a pre-birthday email to their customers, which included a $10 discount code along with a sincere message of appreciation. The result? The small but mighty campaign saw a 6.59% conversion rate!

    By celebrating their own birthday, Rough & Bare was also able to show appreciation to the customers that keep them going – and this is such a powerful message in the wake of significant changes brought about by COVID-19.

    Sign off with a personal touch

    If you have multiple sales associates who treat customers as their clients, you might want to send birthday emails directly from each team member. This helps strengthen the personal connection between the customer and the salesperson. 

    Check out this example from LOEWE. The email is short, sweet, and signed by the customer's sales contact at the store.

    birthday email from loewe

    Bonus tip: consider combining this tactic with a discount or perk so the email feels personal AND rewarded.

    Tips for implementing birthday rewards

    We’ve talked about the different types of birthday rewards you can offer; now let’s discuss how you can take your campaigns to the next level. If you’re looking to start or further optimize your birthday rewards initiatives, follow these best practices to ensure that your efforts hit the mark:

    Integrate birthday perks with your loyalty or rewards program

    While it's certainly possible to offer birthday rewards to non-loyalty program members, your campaigns will perform far better when they're incorporated into your loyalty program.

    Roping birthday rewards into your loyalty program enables you to build data-rich customer profiles. Having your shoppers' purchase histories, shopping activities, and birthdays in one place means that you have a clear view of each customer. This, in turn, can enable you to improve and personalize their shopping experiences even more.

    LEGO Certified Stores has done this to great success!


    Screen Shot 2022-02-16 at 11.07.43 AM

    By awarding customers points on their birthdays and for purchases, LEGO creates a feeling of scarcity but customers also quickly rack up the points with each purchase. This means that when customers earn a reward, it feels all the sweeter!

    Make it easy for people to enter their birthday

    A successful birthday marketing campaign starts with data—in particular, your customers' dates of birth. Make sure you collect your customers' birthday details from the get-go to personalize your marketing efforts and improve customer experiences. 

    You can, for example, ask them to enter their date of birth when they sign up for your loyalty program or newsletter. That's what Merrell NZ does on its website. The brand has a popup that prompts visitors to leave their name, email, and birthday.

    Merrell-Form-1

    With a 25% sign-up rate, this form is clearly a core component of Merrell NZ's customer engagement efforts.

    Automate your campaigns

    Keeping track of everyone's birthdays and setting up individual messages isn't just tedious; it's impossible as your business grows. Campaign automation is not only a remarkable time-saver – automation as a whole (along with personalization) has been pinpointed as the future of marketing

    Thankfully, Marsello has done the hard work for you and already has several pre-made automated flows that are easy to review and enable. One of these automated flows includes a Birthday Flow, which automatically triggers an email sequence to engage customers on their birthday month. This pre-designed email series is populated with a small discount offer and is already tied to your customer database, so there's no need to manually configure the campaign. 

    Just take a look at this example from shoe retailer bCODE:

    Marsello-Email-Automation-Happy-Birthday-Flow-The-BCode

    Notice that they’ve given their customers a lovely surprise by automatically adding 5 points to their account to celebrate! We love that this campaign stands out, has a compelling subject line, and gives customers value right away.

    Learn more: All of Marsello’s automated campaigns are designed to be easily enabled in just a few clicks.

    Test your offers

    While we can certainly recommend birthday rewards and ideas, ultimately, the performance of your birthday promotions will depend on your specific store and customer base. That's why you must test and analyze different birthday promotions to see what works best for your business.

    As mentioned above, creating unique promo codes makes it easier to monitor the performance of your offers and the customers who are redeeming their rewards.

    Take Merrell NZ, which is a pro at testing all of the company's marketing. The team had this to say when we spoke to them about their Marsello-powered marketing.

    "Marsello offers automations, loyalty, rewards, email campaign segmentation, SMS. All the tools that we knew we wanted to test in stages as our eCommerce and business grows. Step 1 was swapping from [our old provider] to using Marcello’sMarsello's email marketing campaigns. Step 2, we're using marketing automation. Step 3, it's loyalty!"

    It was essential to the team to find an all-in-one tool that they could use to build their marketing functionality while also testing each and every change. And that didn't stop when it came to building their loyalty program and testing their promotional offers!

    One way you can use birthday rewards to understand your customer engagement patterns is to test which promo types (e.g., free shipping vs. 20% off vs. $5 off) your customer responds well to. Then, it's easy to apply similar logic to any other promotions and offers that you create in the future!

    Integrate SMS marketing

    While email is still the most popular channel for sending birthday promos and rewards, SMS is rapidly gaining steam and won't slow down anytime soon.

    So, if you're thinking about using SMS marketing, customer birthdays present the perfect opportunity to touch base. Consumers will likely be checking their phones for birthday greetings, and having a timely text from your brand could serve as a pleasant surprise. 

    Just remember, SMS marketing comes with a few rules to keep in mind and not every merchant is eligible. To make sure you’re doing everything right, check out our help center on SMS compliance. 

    But wait!
    What about people who put in fake birthdays?

    When you plan your loyalty program, you're setting up incentive structures. And there are always shoppers who game them to get the maximum discounts and offers possible. Here are some ways to avoid birthday rewards abuse.

    Apply a "cooling-off" period when people sign up for your loyalty program

    Don't let people put in a birthday date within the first month ("What a coincidence, my birthday is TOMORROW!"). This will deter people who want "quick points" or instant freebies and then disappear. If you apply this, make quick mention of it to explain the policy. For example, "Sadly due to abuse of this offer, we won't send birthday offers within 1 month of signing up to our rewards program :(".

    Set a spending threshold

    When offering birthday discounts, establish a minimum spend for the promotion. That way, you encourage higher spending and ensure the promotion benefits both the customer and your business. Check out this example from the Harry Potter Shop. While the brand offers a generous $10 off, birthday celebrants must spend at least $50 to redeem the coupon.

    Set a deadline for reward redemption

    Having reward redemption deadlines can help prevent birthday reward abuse by ensuring customers use their rewards promptly instead of letting them pile up indefinitely. It also encourages immediate spending, which is great for cash flow. 

    Be mindful of giving away too many points

    If you use a points system to reward your customers, make the value of birthday points lower than what they would receive for making an actual purchase. This ensures that the points remain an incentive without being overly generous.

    Consider "surprise" freebies

    For birthday programs where you give out a freebie, make it a surprise! Don't explicitly say what free item they will receive before they sign up. That way, people will be less likely to sign up for that one specific item, and you can still treat your loyal members.

    Ultimately, people will always want to take advantage of free points. The benefits you get from creating positive customer experiences for your loyalty club members will almost always outweigh the potential for rewards abuse. 

     

    Customer loyalty webinar (1)

     

    FAQs

    This is one of our most popular topics, so we get a lot of questions! Here are ones our experts hear the most.

    What is a 'birthday marketing strategy'?

    A birthday marketing strategy involves using customers' birthdays as an opportunity to engage with them, show appreciation, and offer special promotions or rewards. Done right, birthday marketing initiatives enhance customer loyalty, increase sales, and create positive experiences that drive repeat business.

    What is a birthday campaign?

    A birthday campaign is a targeted marketing effort designed to celebrate a customer's birthday. It typically includes sending personalized birthday messages and offering exclusive discounts, gifts, or other incentives to make customers feel valued on their special day.

    What is a birthday promotion?

    A birthday promotion is a special offer or discount for customers on or around their birthday. This could include percentage-off discounts, free gifts, bonus points in loyalty programs, or other exclusive deals that incentivize customers to make a purchase.

    How do you keep track of customers' birthdays?

    You can keep track of customers' birthdays by collecting their birth date information when they sign up for your loyalty program, newsletter, or during the checkout process. From there, you can manage the data using your CRM software.

    What should be included in a birthday rewards program?

    The right birthday marketing campaign depends on your brand. That said, a birthday rewards program typically includes personalized messages, exclusive discounts or offers, gifts, bonus loyalty points, etc. 

    How do businesses track the effectiveness of birthday reward campaigns over time?

    To track the effectiveness of birthday reward campaigns over time, you can use customer relationship management (CRM) tools to analyze customer engagement, purchase frequency, and changes in spending patterns around their birthdays. If you're using Marsello, you can track the revenue generated from birthday automations over time, allowing you to optimize and see the impact of your changes.

    Can small businesses without a big budget implement impactful birthday rewards?

    For small businesses with limited budgets, impactful birthday rewards can be implemented by offering personalized discounts, exclusive products, or simple gestures like birthday messages that make customers feel valued without incurring high costs.

    How do businesses personalize birthday rewards for diverse customer segments?

    Personalizing birthday rewards for diverse customer segments involves gathering data on customer preferences and purchasing history to tailor rewards that resonate with different demographics, enhancing the customer's experience and loyalty. Remember: Don't get too granular with your segments—the smaller the segment, the more time-consuming and cost-intensive personalization will be. For smaller businesses, we recommend one simple birthday reward, such as a voucher.

    Final words

    Birthdays can be a real treat not just for your customers but for your brand, as well. So, take the time to create campaigns that make your customers feel appreciated on their special day.

    Need help doing just that? Check out Marsello's customer loyalty features and discover how you can engage each customer on their birthday and beyond.

    Make sure to check out our comprehensive loyalty guide to ensure your loyalty marketing is up to date in all areas.

    Read Guide

     

    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

    ClockIcon  READ
    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

    5 Ways to Measure Retail Customer Lifetime Value

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    How much are each of your customers worth to you and how much should you invest in each of them? Learn how to calculate your customers' lifetime value.

    The saying “You have to spend to make money,” is quite true in the world of retail. As a store owner, you often have to invest in marketing and advertising to acquire new customers and generate revenue. The question is, exactly how much should you spend on customer acquisition to ensure that your efforts are worth it?

    To answer that, you need to calculate your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

    Sometimes referred to as Lifetime Value (LTV), this metric is the amount of revenue or profit that your business stands to generate from each customer during their lifetime. So, if your CLV is $50, then that tells you that it shouldn't cost more than $50 to acquire each new customer.

    There are a number of formulas for computing CLV, and the right method will depend on your business model, customer behavior, and available data, among other things.

    To help you figure out the right CLV calculation method for your business, we’ve put together some of the most common CLV methods used by eCommerce merchants. Check them out and see which one is the best fit for your business.

     

    Download the free CLV Calculator
    Use Marsello's free calculator to quickly estimate your average CLV.

     

     

    1. Use the simple CLV formula.


    The no-frills way to compute your CLV is to subtract the cost to acquire and serve customers from the revenue that you’ve earned from them. To do this, use the formula:

     

    LTV = Lifetime Customer Revenue – Lifetime Customer Costs

     

    So, if you earned $200 from a customer over their lifetime and you spent $140 acquiring and serving that customer, then their lifetime value is $60.

    Since CLV is often defined as the profit you’ve earned from your customers, then it technically makes sense to subtract your customer costs from your revenue. That said, this takes a very simplistic view of CLV, and it becomes problematic when you’re calculating the CLV of entire customer groups or segments.

    That’s because this formula doesn’t take into account the fact that not all your customers spend the same amount at your store. Not to mention, shoppers don’t all stay active within the same time period i.e., certain customers are active for 2+ years, while others just purchase once and then become dormant.

    For this reason, it’s a good idea to use more complex CLV calculations to ensure that you’re able to factor in different customer variables.

    And that brings us to our next formula...

     

     

    2. Determine CLV based on customer revenue distribution


    Another way to calculate your customer lifetime value is to look at how revenue is distributed across your customer base. You can do this by benchmarking customer spending in your business and then grouping your customers based on those spending thresholds.

    Let’s say that spending in your company typically falls into the following buckets:

    • Customers who spend $25

    • Customers who spend $50

    • Customers who spend $75

    • Customers who spend $100

    The next thing you need to do is to figure out how many customers fall into each bucket. So you might list them as follows:

     

    No. of customers Revenue
    98 $25
    80 $50
    102 $75
    68 $100

    You’ll want to sum up the lifetime value of all your customers using the formula

     

    (# of customers 1 x revenue) + (# of customers 2 x revenue) + (# of customers 3 x revenue) & so on

     

     

    So the example above would be:

    (98 x 25) + (80 x 50) + (102 x 75) + (68 x 100) = 20,900

    You can divide that amount by your total number of customers to get the CLV

    = 20,900 / 348 = $60.05

     

    This is a good calculation to use especially if your basket sizes vary from one customer to the next. As The Balance explains, this CLV formula accounts for the fact that “some customers may be one-time or occasional buyers, versus the regular purchasers on the other end of the scale who have a higher LTV and generate the most profits.”

     

     

    3. Multiply customer value by average customer lifespan


    This CLV calculation is the one recommend by Shopify. What’s great about it is that it factors in a number of variables, including average order values, purchase frequency, and customer lifespan.

    This method uses the formula:

     

    Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan = Customer Lifetime Value

     

    Let’s break down what each of these components means.

    To determine Customer Value, multiply your Average Order Value (AOV) by Purchase Frequency. You can find your AOV by dividing your Total Sales by the Number of Orders.

    Meanwhile, to determine Purchase Frequency, divide the Number of Orders you have gotten over a certain time period (say 1 year) by the Number of Customers you have within that same time period.

    Once you know your AOV and Purchase Frequency, multiply those figures and you’ll get your Customer Value.

    Next, let’s talk about the Average Customer Lifespan. This figure pertains to the length of time that a customer is active. You may need to examine your purchase history to figure this out, though some experts say that 1-3 years is a good estimate.

    Once you’ve determined your Average Customer Lifespan, you can go back to the formula above, Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan to find your CLV.

     

    Total sales + No. of orders = Average Order Value

    No. of orders (1 year) + No. of customers (1 year) = Purchase Frequency

    Average order value x Purchase frequency = Customer Value

     
     

    4. Multiply lifetime value by profit margin


    Another way to approach CLV is by multiplying Lifetime Value by Profit Margin. According to Clever Tap, this method takes your expenses into consideration so you're able to figure out the net value that you get from each customer.

     

    Lifetime value x Profit margin = Customer Lifetime Value

     

    The formula for this method is: Lifetime Value x Profit Margin, wherein Lifetime Value is Average Order Value multiplied by the Number of Transactions, which is then multiplied by Average Customer Lifespan.

     

    Average order value x Number of transactions x
    Average customer lifespan = Lifetime Value 


    Lifetime value x Profit margin = Customer Lifetime Value

     

    Once you have that, then simply multiply the Lifetime Value by your Profit Margin  – i.e., Lifetime Value × Profit Margin to find your CLV.

     

    Download the free CLV Calculator
    Use Marsello's free calculator to quickly estimate your average CLV.

     

     

    5. Let your marketing software do it for you

    Calculating customer lifetime value can be a complex task, which is why it’s often better to use software when figuring your business’ CLV.

    A growing number of marketing platforms (including Marsello) can now use artificial intelligence to accurately calculate your CLV. These solutions do this by analyzing your customers’ purchase behavior in your business (as well as in stores similar to yours) to determine their lifespan and the amount of value that you can gain from them.

    Even better, AI marketing solutions even let you compare your CLV with your industry’s average. For example, since Marsello can analyze shopping trends across multiple industries, we can figure out the average lifespan values of stores in specific verticals, and then surface those insights for you. That, in turn, can give you valuable knowledge of how your business measures up and helps you improve your marketing and advertising efforts.

     

    Knowing your CLV is a must!


    Regardless of how you decide to calculate your customer lifetime value, it’s essential that you do it regularly. CLV can help you make important decisions including, how much to spend on customer acquisition, which channels to invest in, and how to provide even more value to shoppers.

    That’s why if you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to figure out your CLV ASAP. And if you need help doing that, feel free to get in touch.

    FAQs


    What are the common challenges or pitfalls in gathering accurate data for CLV calculations, and how can they be overcome?

    Overcoming challenges in gathering accurate data for CLV calculations entails employing advanced analytics, maintaining high-quality customer data, and integrating various data sources for a comprehensive view.

    Can CLV be effectively used to predict future business growth, and if so, how?

    Effectively using CLV to predict future business growth involves analyzing trends in CLV over time, segmenting customers based on their value, and applying predictive modeling techniques to forecast changes in customer behavior and business outcomes. These approaches require a blend of statistical analysis, customer insight, and strategic planning to enhance accuracy and usefulness.

    Measure your CLV with Marsello

    Plan and schedule social posts, email & SMS campaigns, and automations. Run loyalty and referral campaigns. Track and measure the impact of all your marketing on revenue.

    Start free trial

    5 Ways to Reduce Abandoned Shopping Carts

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    Experiencing abandoned shopping carts in your eCommerce store? Learn the basics of bringing customers back to your store to complete their purchases.

    payment carts and a 'sale' market product placed on a laptop

     

    Experiencing abandoned shopping carts in your eCommerce store? You’re not alone. According to Baymard Institute, 67.45% of eCommerce shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes the sale. This means your eCommerce sales numbers may only be one-third of what they could potentially be.

    The good news is, there are proven ways to turn this around and save a good portion of those sales that slip through the cracks at checkout. It’s definitely worth spending a bit of time to discover why your customers aren’t always completing their purchases. If you’re having problems with abandoned shopping carts, before worrying about driving more traffic to your store, your checkout conversion is the first thing you should address. After all, what’s the point in driving traffic to your store, if customers will just slip out when it comes to your checkout process.

     

    Why do your customers abandon carts?

    First, find out where the majority of customers are abandoning their carts, and why. These are the most common reasons, found by the Baymard Institute. Could any of them be applicable to your store?

     

    Graph showing reasons for customer's abandoning their carts during checkout


    What you can do

    Once you figure out the major reasons customers are abandoning your checkout, focus on plugging these leaks first.

    1. Cut unexpected costs where you can

    Sometimes adding costs to orders is out of necessity, like taxes, shipping, and fees. Ask yourself, are your added costs fair? Are they expected? And, are they explained? If you can’t cut added costs, make sure it’s clear what these added fees are paying for. Consider offering free shipping on orders over a certain amount. As Invesp reported, “93% of online buyers are encouraged to buy more products if free shipping options are available whereas 58% of consumers add more items to cart to qualify for free shipping.”

     

    2. Allow guests to purchase

    Some shoppers just want to make a quick purchase. They don’t have the time to create an account. Allow shoppers to check out as guests.

     

    3. Optimize your checkout process

    One in four shoppers abandons their shopping carts due to a “too long/complicated checkout process”. Optimize your checkout process by cutting down the number of steps or required fields. Consider testing to see if single-page or multi-page checkouts work for you. Some studies have shown single pages to be more effective and some retailers see better results from multi-page. It’s a good idea to see what works for you. If you’re going to use multi-page checkout, including a progress bar to show the customer how they are progressing can help nudge them through. One upside of opting for multi-page, is you capture the customer's email early on the first page, allowing you to follow up later with an abandoned cart email if they do abandon it.

     

    Beach Therapy's online cart during customer checkout

     

    4. Build trust

    From website errors, not enough information on returns and guarantees, to unusual payment methods, shopper trust can be lost pretty quickly when it comes to them feeling in the mood to hand over their credit card details.

    • Make sure your eCommerce site is with a trusted provider, like Shopify, Lightspeed or BigCommerce to help ensure it’s not likely to error or crash.

    • Offer different payment methods and use trusted payment gateways, like PayPal.

    • Use security logos. In a test published by Get Elastic, an online retailer found that by placing a security badge on their site, sales increased 4-6%. Yet other studies show a decrease when using these logos. So it’s important to test the placement and style.

    • Display total price upfront, before the customer is required to enter their payment details.

    • Offer guarantees and refunds. By having a clear and practical guarantee and refund policy, you’re adding peace of mind to the shopper’s experience.

    Of course, even with all these improvements, some shoppers will still abandon. Not to worry, here’s where abandoned cart recovery emails come in.

     

    5. Recovering abandoned carts

    When shoppers start the checkout process and add their email address, but stop before completing the sale, they aren’t a lost sale yet. You can still win them back with an automated abandoned cart email app.

    Using Marsello, you can design a series of two great-looking follow-up emails that automatically pull in the products that were in the customer’s cart, reminding them of what they left behind. Once you’ve customized the design, you can set the times you want the emails to automatically send.

    Tips for a successful email:

    • Include product images of the item/s they selected.

    • Include a strong call-to-action button that takes them back to their cart to complete their purchase.

    • Make it your own with your branding and messaging, but keep it short.

    • Send the first email out within 24 hours, and the second within a few days.

    • Try adding a discount coupon code on the second email to entice them to complete their purchase.

    Walker's Beard & Shave abandoned cart email

     

    Final words

    With just a few simple processes in place, you can be well on your way to solving the issue of abandoned carts during the shopping process. Our final tips are to make sure you're incorporating compelling subjetc lines, captivating your customers visually, and making using of AI and personalization!!

    Want to learn more about automated campaigns?

     

    Learn more about Automations

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