Category Archives: Web tip

Web tip – get in their head, map the customer journey

Before you map the customer journey, you’ll flesh out  audience personas, identify goals, talk to your customers, and collaborate with teams across your organization to gain a holistic understanding of your customers’ typical path to purchase. You’re ready to take pen to paper (or more likely, mouse to screen) to map out the customer journey, delighting customers at each step.

Map the customer journey

You’ll start by creating a journey for one of your personas. Remember, you’re treating customers as individually as possible, not developing a one-size-fits-all plan. Your journey will be highly repeatable, but tailored and tweaked for your different personas and their needs, motivations, and challenges.

Identify stages to lead the customer to the end goal

With your end goal in mind, develop the stages of customer interaction. Customers approach buying decisions similarly, most of the time. They are introduced to your brand or product category, research your products and competitors, purchase the product, experience it, and decide if they’ll purchase from you again. Each of these stages is an opportunity to educate, excite, sooth, and propel the customer to the next step in their journey.

You developed a detailed understanding of your customers’ typical buying stages from your persona research, but if you are unclear, walking through Discovery, Research, Conversion, and Post Sale is a safe bet. Design the journey as a flow chart, with Discovery on the left hand side and Post Sale on the right. As you get into the thick of things, the journey may tangent off and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to stay linear.

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Web tip – are you wasting your website’s data?

Treat website visitors as individualsWebsites are more than digital storefronts; they are oftentimes the face and heart of a brand. (A face that customers judge in seconds.)

Websites must feel trustworthy, capture consumer insights, nurture customer relationships, and leave a fantastic impression. How can you leverage your website to better serve your customers?

Personalize customers’ online experience

Brands taking care to understand their customers’ behavior and digital journey across all channels can fine-tune their site to deliver on its promise. They can provide customers more relevant website content, target promotions and products toward individual needs, and take lead nurturing and prospecting to an unparalleled level.

By personalizing online experiences, we engage customers on a far more intimate level and dramatically increase the likelihood they’ll convert. Personalization hinges on identifying website visitors and capturing customer insights in an actionable database.

Identifying website visitors

People arrive on your site for various reasons and with different goals. You cannot deliver customers personalized content, products, or promotions  if you cannot differentiate their needs from everyone else’s.

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Web tip – 5 ways to boost social media success

Grow your social media presenceYou aren’t alone in the struggle to grow and monetize your social presence. Social media connects your brand and customers, attracts new prospects, and lets you listen in on your audience’s thoughts and concerns, but social media feels like a moving target. It can be overwhelming to keep up with changing trends and best practices. To help, we updated a previous social media post on five tactics to monetize and boost your social media presence!

1. Think omni channel

Customers think about your brand as one entity. That’s why it makes no sense for marketers to engage customers differently on each channel. Brands don’t take this approach on purpose, of course. They just fail to effectively connect the dots across the many channels, timeframes, locations (in-store and online), and reasons customers experience their brand.

An omni channel marketing approach is the key to engaging customers across the board – your social networks, website, blog, paid ads, email marketing, and mobile apps work together to deliver a cohesive brand experience.

Omni channel is the future of business, but data drives your ability to identify consumers as a single identity. Unless marketers use data to understand their multi-touch point customers, they have no choice but to rely on tired siloed tactics. Luckily, there are a ton of tools at our disposal to help.

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Web tip – How to Start Mapping A Customer Journey

Customer sentiment disconnectEngaged customers are at the heart of every successful business, but oftentimes, brands overestimate their customers’ engagement.

According to a 2015 eConsultancy survey, 81% of consumer brands say they have a holistic view of their customers, BUT only 37% of consumers believe their favorite retailer understands them. This disconnect wastes time, money, and opportunity, as brands try and fail to engage and convert customers.

What is a customer journey?

Brands must understand their customers to excite and retain them. Sounds easy, but no two customers are alike or respond to outreach the same way. Smart brands create a customer journey map, a visual representation of the many steps customers take when engaging with your brand.

Developing a customer journey map helps brands understand how customers consider and then decide to use their products or services by following them through the buying process. The journey map also identifies areas to improve their conversion path.Who are your customers

Getting started

There is no customer journey map standard (that would be too easy). Instead, we’ve outlined six steps to map out your customer journey. They include:

1. Developing user personas
2. Identifying your goal
3. Talking to your customers
4. Creating and engaging cross-functional teams
5. Designing the journey
6. Measure and adjusting

Today, we’ll cover the legwork (steps 1-4) you’ll complete before designing your customer journey.

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Web tip – how Amazon’s free shipping policy impacts your business

Amazon Offers Free Shipping on Small and Inexpensive itemsYou’re in competition with Amazon if you sell online. Even if Amazon doesn’t carry your products or product category directly (unlikely), the superior user experience Amazon offers has dramatically altered consumers’ expectations of online shopping.

Thanks to Amazon, consumers expect products to be inexpensive or heavily discounted. They expect free immediate shipping (first a few days, then overnight, and now just a few hours). They want access to customer reviews, and product recommendations, and to comparison shop from similar brands, before purchasing.

These raised expectations make it difficult for businesses without Amazon’s budget (and businesses with Amazon’s budget) to keep up. Amazon’s recent announcement – free shipping on small and inexpensive items – further raises these high stakes.

Amazon announces free shipping on small items

Amazon launched free shipping for a range of products last week, for both Prime and non-Prime members. Coined the “small and light program,” consumers can select free delivery on thousands of items selling for under $10 and weighing less than 8 oz. (Previously free shipping was only offered for shopping carts exceeding $35 or for Amazon Prime members.) Consumers’ “small and light” items will arrive on their doorstep within four to eight days, but this program is only for select items, not all items meeting the “approximately the size of a potato” criteria.

This change is expected to extend Amazon as the go-to shopping site for smaller items, like toothpaste, that consumers were less likely to buy online. It isn’t completely rolled out, so time will tell the extent of items included.

Amazon’s free shipping pressures retailers

First, don’t panic. Amazon’s update won’t release the shipping floodgates. Free shipping is not a viable long term offering for most businesses. If the customer isn’t paying shipping, the company is, and it isn’t cheap. Shipping costs are highly variable and depend on the weight and volume of the items. For some smaller items, shipping costs might exceed the company’s profit from the sale.

Companies struggling to compete with Amazon must find a balance between offering free shipping and maintaining their profit margins. Amazon will continue to keep commerce on its toes, but we’ve got a few tactics to maintain this balance.

How to keep pace with free shipping

1.  Incentivize customers with free shipping promotions or discounted shipping as part of your normal promotions calendar. You can extend this offer on rare occasions, once a month, or on a specific day of the week, like Free Shipping Fridays. This approach gets you into the free shipping game without setting an expectation that you cannot reasonably fulfill.

2.  Give free shipping to your loyal customers. Growing your loyalty program is a surefire way to nurture repeat sales. Offering special promotions, like free shipping, will entice customers to join your program, giving you the opportunity to engage them on a more regular basis.

3.  Offer free shipping on inventory you want to clear. Stale inventory sitting on shelves is expensive. For companies with seasonal or trendy products, clearing inventory is especially necessary to make space for newer, on-trend products. Offer free shipping on excess inventory to incentivize shoppers to purchase and help you clear your shelves for new product. (For inventory close-out ideas, see how our marketing campaign moved excess inventory and minimized profit loss, producing an 808% ROI in the first month.)

4.  Instead of offering free shipping, you can offer to pay customers’ return shipping. With this approach, shoppers might purchase additional items by limiting their risk of returning product they don’t like. Monitor the number of returns carefully to ensure you’re staying within your margins.

Get creative to compete with Amazon

As Amazon innovates, consumers’ expectations will continue to rise. E-commerce companies feeling pressured to compete can adopt some of Amazon’s tactics on a smaller scale, without fully implementing a policy that they cannot afford to maintain. Nurturing current client relationships and delivering a personal touch that makes shoppers feel special and appreciated will give e-commerce companies the upper hand.

Web tip – 4 Steps to Creating Actionable User Personas

When you’re developing a content piece, website, or email, your audience sometimes morphs into faceless figures, instead of the real, everyday people you’re trying to reach.

To engage real people, you need to tailor your messages and incentives to be relevant to their individual needs, address their concerns, demonstrate your value, and persuade them to convert (all at an appropriate time in their purchase cycle and without being too aggressive or annoying).

Luckily, developing user personas – mapping out fictional characters representing your core audience – helps you engage individuals with the right approach, timing, and messaging to move them down the conversion path. (Our Persona Worksheet makes mapping our personas easy! Get it below.)

User personas work

User personas help you personalize interactions with your customers + personalization simply works:

Online Personalization Statistics

How to build actionable user personas

Identify characteristics that offer insight about customers and factors driving their decision making. The goal is to group similar customer representations together, until you’re left with a manageable number of personas, representing about 80% of your audience (3-5, depending on your organization’s size).

When developing user personas, you must collect actionable information that tells you something about the person, so you can respond to their behavior with persuasive, impactful marketing.

Remember, you’re trying to understand intangibles like motivations, concerns, turn-offs, and position in the buyer lifecycle, as well as tangibles like location, age, and education level, to paint a clear and divisive picture of the different types of people making up your core audience. You must also plan how you’ll identify these personas in your various channels (website, email, mobile push, etc.) to deliver the right content.

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Web tip – Respond to Mobilegeddon with responsive design

Is Google’s mobilegeddon stressing you out? Are you one of the many brands scrambling to optimize their website for mobile users today, the day Google’s search update went into effect?

Today, we’ll demonstrate why responsive design is the best choice for your website to respond (get it?) to Google’s search update.

What’s all the fuss about?

Google is boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly sites on mobile search results starting today (April 21). Ignore the doomsayers asking whether your site will survive this update. We promise it will, but if your site isn’t mobile optimized, you’ll start seeing your traffic drop.

We broke down how Google’s change will affect your organic traffic last month, but to simplify: Google wants to deliver the best possible search results to every searcher and almost everyone is searching Google from their smartphones at one time or another. (According to GlobalWebIndex, 80% of online adults own a smartphone (50% own a tablet) and spend 1.85 hours a day online from their mobile devices.)

If someone is searching for a new blender, Google intends to deliver the best blender vendors and blender reviews available. That means relevant information, and yes, an optimized user experience on the site.

If Google has to pick between a blender vendor with a site optimized for easy shopping from a smartphone, or a site where the searcher has to pinch to zoom to see blender options, squint to see the text, and struggle to click the Buy Now button, Google is serving up the optimized site – starting today.

The non-mobile-optimized website can still be found on Google, of course, but it will be lower in rankings than the mobile-friendly vendor, and lose traffic as a result.

Responsive design is the best response to Mobilegeddon

Responsive design is a mobile-friendly design technique that serves the same code on the same URL regardless of device (desktop, tablet, mobile), but renders the display differently based on the screen size. Responsive design ensures that a website visitor receives a fantastic user experience, whether they are on a smartphone, tablet or desktop, like so:

Currey-Co-Responsive-Design-Example

Responsive is a set of choices a developer makes to ensure the site is easy to interact with from all devices. A simple design that isn’t cluttered or content heavy, and won’t take a decade to load on a cell phone is a safe start. Navigation is often streamlined to make finding information easier and imagery and icons can also guide the visitor to pertinent content without forcing them to scroll a lot.

There are other design techniques (dynamic serving and separate URLs are two approaches), but responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. We recommend responsive to our own clients because it’s easier to maintain (updating one site vs. two), and you get all the mobile-friendly enhanced usability. See how it’s just as easy to input contact information and sign up for our client Mud Pie’s emails from both the desktop and phone.

MudPie-Responsive-Design-Example

Takeaways

Google’s search update wasn’t a haphazard decision to decrease your organic traffic. Mobile is simply a channel embraced by everyday users. It’s a good thing. Every time someone searches for your site, regardless of the device they use, is an opportunity for you to capture their attention. Google is making it easier for brands to capture the attention of their mobile audience.

If you want to maintain optimal levels of search traffic, than you need a mobile-friendly website. We build mobile-friendly and responsive websites and emails for tons of clients. Reach out if we can help you map out your mobile strategy. We also write about both topics regularly, so we’ll keep you up to date.

Webinar Recap – The Store Of The Future

Did you sit in on yesterday’s webinar, Connecting Devices and Data to Create the Store of the Future? The webinar covered personalization and technology in retail and had us totally geeking out. A round of applause for the host, Alicia Fiorletta of Retail TouchPoints, and the awesome speakers:

Webinar-recap-panelists

How often do you sit in on a webinar that talks about delivering a tailored customer experience, while showing off super cool technologies like RFID, augmented reality, robots (I mean, ROBOTS)?

Check out just a few of the sci-fi-ish technologies that ambitious retailers are adding into their brick and mortar stores to bridge the gap between the digital and in-store experience:

The New StoreThe webinar covered a ton of information, but we summarized a few of our favorite points for you.

Digital isn’t killing retail

The speakers agree that digital isn’t replacing retail. In fact, 94% of total retail sales are still generated at brick and mortar stores (eMarketer). Consumers visit retail stores because they’re seeking a comfortable, familiar, sensory experience. They want to touch and see your products and get feedback from your sales reps. Smart retailers are using digital to enhance and augment the retail experience, not replace it.

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Web tip – omni channel marketing increases revenue

Whereoware-Currey-Case-Study-The-Main-EventEach year, wholesale manufacturer of distinctive lighting and home furnishings Currey & Company discounts inventory at their very successful The Main Event sale. Their challenge is to consistently raise the bar to top the previous year’s success.

Currey teamed with digital agency Whereoware to develop an omni channel marketing strategy: showcasing the sale prominently on their website; leveraging customer data to segment, target, and personalize a series of email campaigns; and developing a sale-specific digital catalog in their mobile application, the Spotlight Sales iPad app.

The result? Compared to the previous successful year, Currey increased revenue 22%.

Get the case study to see how an omni channel marketing approach took Currey’s annual sale to the next level!

 

Web tip – Is your content epic? Get our content creation guide

Write quality contentAccording to Demand Metric, 93% of marketers rate interactive content effective for educating buyers. Interactive content educates and entertains your customers while familiarizing them with your brand and products. Customers are more likely to choose your product over an unknown competitor, because you’ve nurtured their relationship and consistently delivered value without asking for anything in return.

Not only does great content interest your leads and customers, but it also boosts your SEO rankings, keeps your website fresh and exciting, and provides you great resources to email your audience.

Getting started with interactive content

Your first step is figuring out the kind of content your buyers find meaningful. Talk with your sales team and use their experience interacting with customers to come up with initial topics.

Next, identify customer personas; a way of categorizing your audience based on variables like age, interest, buying history, position in the purchase lifecycle, etc. Personas help you better understand your audience, so you can identify and write content that’s more personal and relevant to their needs.

Let’s say you have a bike shop called Round&Round. After identifying your customer personas, map out their needs and interests at all the stages between finding your company and buying your products. You’ll use this list to develop content pieces to speak to their needs at each stage and guide them through the buying cycle.

Generally, browsing customers go through similar phases: awareness, consideration, purchase, and repurchase. Your “awareness” piece introduces your company and provide some background information to show you’re reputable. The “consideration” phase assists your customers in narrowing down their choices and offers key considerations. Content at the “purchase” phase makes the case for buying from your company, and lastly during the “repurchase” phase, you’ll follow up with opportunities to upsell.

For this example, see how we divided customers into personas and personalized content pieces to lead them through purchase stages:

bikerpersonas

Continue reading Web tip – Is your content epic? Get our content creation guide