Category Archives: Web tip

Marketing tip – are you on the Holiday Marketing Naughty List?

Developing a creative, effective holiday marketing plan is imperative, but there are a lot of moving parts to account for in our omni channel retail environments.  Our Holiday Marketing Naughty or Nice list will help you check that you haven’t overlooked any important steps.

A naughty brand comes up with an ad hoc plan, but a nice brand looks back on their marketing initiatives last year, measures results, and tailors those successes to maximize conversions this season. A naughty brand focuses on one channel, where as a nice brand optimizes a variety of channels to deliver an exceptional shopping experience wherever their customers are.

Fill out our fast, seven-step checklist to make certain that you’re not on the naughty list. Then, check out our holiday toolkit for easy tips to up your marketing game for the holidays.

Web tip – 4 website tweaks to convert holiday shoppers

Gap GiftsIt’s an e-commerce company’s summer secret that while customers are busy buying swimsuits and dipping their toes in the sand, brands are scrambling to prepare for the busy holiday season.

You can’t blame them for having holiday cheer on the brain in August. Between Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday sales, the season for gifting arrives earlier each year and extends longer, which means even earlier B2B sales. In fact, according to The National Retail Foundation’s 2014 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, your customers have already made their list, checked it twice, AND completed more than half of their shopping by December 10th.

It’s crucial that e-commerce companies have a solid marketing plan in place to excite and convert holiday shoppers as early as possible. An inviting website should be at the center of this plan to maximize both the early-bird and last-minute shoppers. To get ready, give your website a holiday facelift with our 4 tweaks to captivate visitors and increase seasonal spending.

Update hero imagery + banners

Your website’s hero image is often the first visual visitors see and leaves an overall impression of your website. To give your site an immediate refresh without overhauling the design, update your hero image to place holiday promotions and gift ideas front and center.

The Body Shop gets into the spirit with a holiday-themed hero image and festive offers above the fold. The Holiday Shoppe left sidebar calls out Gifts, Seasonal Scents, and E-Gift cards, making it easy for shoppers to fulfill all their gift-giving needs. The Perfect Gift Finder guides the unsure shopper, and discounts and promotions are impossible to miss. GIFTS is highlighted red in the top navigation and the banner (and hero image) adds urgency around Christmas Delivery. Compare their December 2014 website to April 2015’s, and you can see that the overall integrity of the website didn’t change, yet the look and feel is completely different.

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Web tip – Customer Journey Toolkit

Turn browsers into buyers + prospects into loyal customers with our Customer Journey Toolkit. Receive sample Journey Infographics, a Persona Worksheet, a Customer Questionnaire, + a Journey Map Worksheet – check out the toolkit details below.

In our Customer Journey Toolkit, you’ll find:

1)    Our Journey Infographics help you visualize a typical customer journey (broken out for B2B and B2C e-commerce companies and Service Companies).

2)   Our Persona Worksheet will help you understand your customers better + identify what motivates them or turns them off.

3)   Use our Customer Questionnaire to talk to customers about how you can increase their customer satisfaction.

4)   The Journey Worksheet will help you map out opportunities to reach out to your customers when they are most responsive and via the channels they respond to best.

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:


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.



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.