Saturday, August 4, 2012

Triggered Emails Drive More Product Reviews

Let me see a show of hands.... How many of you, without being prompted, have returned to a retailer's website to leave feedback in the form of a product review?  Now, how many of you have done the same thing to submit a positive review? That's what I thought.

Without question, a ratings and review system can offer many tremendous benefits to a retailer's e-commerce site.  Among others, reviews have been shown to increase user engagement, increase traffic via sharing, increase conversions by harnessing the power of social, and, if implemented correctly, provide added SEO benefit with the addition of original content.

Build it and they will come.  Well, not exactly.  Unfortunately, that's not usually how it happens.  Consider this... when a customer receives a new item, he or she is typically excited to tear open that box, sift through all the packaging, read the owner's manual, and give that new gadget a test drive.  Unless there's something broken or wrong, returning to the retailer's website isn't a priority and probably not on his mind.  As time passes, that consumer is further removed from the transaction and may have even forgotten where he or she had purchased the item.  The chances of this customer submitting a review at your website is very low at this point.

What can be done to increase reviews?  The short answer is simply ask.  A best practice is to follow up with your customer to make sure they had a positive buying experience at your site.  I process hundreds of transactions per day, how can I accomplish this?  Well, here is where the concept of triggered (or automated) emails enters the picture.

Case Study:  A while back, I implemented a ratings & reviews system into one of my client's sites.  We were all excited to start receiving feedback and see all those yellow stars light up across our product pages.  Well, a few hundred transactions later, we had not received a single submission from our customers.  What was going on??  We decided to remind folks via our newsletter about the new system, and urged them to provide "valuable" feedback.  About 100,000 emails later, we had received a handful of reviews-- Not the level we had expected.  We even began to communicate incentives in the form of store credit to our buyers.  That actually prompted an uptick in reviews to the site.  Still, not where we wanted to be.

Solution:  Upon further brainstorming, we decided that we needed to be more personalized with our approach.  As a result, we turned to our order database and our email application.  We programmed the system to email buyers 10 days after purchase to follow up on their order experience and solicit a review.  Now, here's the critical part to this setup... you have to be specific in your email.  You cannot expect a customer to click through to your homepage, find the product page on his own, and then submit a review.  They need direction.  Some folks may not even recall what they had purchased from you.  Be sure to remind them. It's advised that you merge their order data into the email and provide a direct hyperlink to the review page.  It also never hurts to incentivize them!

Results:  Review submissions increased 40% over the next 30 days.

In conclusion, whether you're implementing a local review application or going with a hosted solution like Bazaarvoice, be sure to integrate triggered emails (with merged order data) as a touch point with the customer.  This will greatly enhance the success of your program!

**BTW, these emails are considered transactional, so they aren't constrained by most provisions in the CAN-SPAM Act.  You do not need prior permission from the customer to send these.  An existing business relationship exists.  Just be sure their email address doesn't find its way into your general mailing bucket.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mobile Retail Commerce Rises While Social Shopping Drops in Second Quarter, Reports IBM

This week an article from IBM reports that Mobile shopping accounted for 15.1 percent of all online sales in the second quarter 2012, an increase of 14+% over the first quarter results. At the same time, Social shopping dropped 20+% over the same time period. 

What message can we take away from these results? Do users prefer mobile shopping over social shopping?  I don't think the answer is that simple. We can't ignore the importance of social shopping in our overall strategy. I agree with IBM on this one, CMOs and CIOs must develop an alliance to create an integrated marketing suite to regain control and remain connected to consumers across all channels. 

Armonk, N.Y. - 16 Jul 2012: Mobile shopping rose while social media sales fell, providing an indication of where US retailers may invest in order to capture the attention and loyalty of the digital consumer, according to a new report from IBM (NYSE: IBM). The IBM Retail Online Index, a cloud-based analysis of the online retail sector reported that retailers experienced 15 percent growth in sales from mobile devices but saw a 20 percent decline in sales traced to social media based on a much smaller base over this three-month period.
Read more......

Friday, February 10, 2012

Have you added Pinterest buttons to your e-commerce site yet?

If not, you may want to consider inserting a "follow" button or "pin it" button into, I'm assuming, the already-crowded social space on your web pages.

Interestingly, I didn't originally become aware of this social platform by coming across one of their buttons or browsing headlines, but rather I noticed my Facebook feed was becoming filled with posts from my friends' Pinterest feeds...

As one can see from the article, Pinterest Hits 10 Million U.S. Monthly Uniques Faster Than Any Standalone Site Ever -comScore, the platform is experiencing rapid growth.

What is Pinterest? According to their website, "Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Search Engine 'Bots are Getting Smarter - Headless Browsers!

Bookmark this article, print it, save it to your computer.... you may need to pull it out the next time your SEO Manager and Web Team are about ready to face off over the direction of your website. I've witnessed (and been a part of) many tussles between these two groups, each typically approaching web projects with different objectives and perspectives in mind.

How a site is coded can determine how well a search engine spiders it, indexes it, and subsequently ranks it.  In the early days, bots or spiders could only crawl and capture front-end text and textual hyperlinks.  One could forget about showing up in the SERP's if the site incorporated items such as flash, scripting, or dynamic database strings/references.  Things have changed dramatically since those times.  For example, Google announced circa 2008 they could spider flash (swf) videos and navigation items. (Although I still wouldn't bet my kids' education funds on Google being able to successfully crawl, index, and display a large flash-based site appropriately.)

The following featured article from SEOmoz further explains how bots have evolved, and also provides insight to what this all means for SEO...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Google+ Now Available for Business & Brands -- Will You Promote?

Just when you thought you had your social media/marketing plan solidified, Google comes along and throws everything in a tizzy.  Many of you have probably worked diligently to build your Facebook presence and are starting to see healthy returns on those efforts.  Facebook is likely engrained on your website, email, and offline marketing materials.

While Google+ for business has been on the horizon for a while now, I can certainly understand any resulting confusion and uncertainty their roll-out has presented.  Will it be worth my effort and development costs to integrate into my business?  Will users adopt G+ as their sole platform, or will there just be a lot of redundancy with Facebook?  Can I expect to see new customer leads? Conversions?  Much of the uncertainty lies in the lack of data available at this point to justify embracing this new platform.

I've had a G+ account for a while now.  I don't use it.  My updates and shares are solely conducted within Facebook.  I can also say the folks within my circles aren't very active on G+ either.

Whatever your thoughts, here's a couple articles from Mashable to aid in your decisionmaking...

Google+ Launches Branded Pages

Google+ Badges Make it Simple for Users to Connect With Brands


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When to Daily Deal It or Not

An interesting article that provides insights into companies who have successfully used daily deal websites and lessons they've learned -