January 12th, 2009.
We have already seen in my previous blog that online sales are very robust even in the teeth of a recession.Â Companies have used a myriad of marketing techniques to entice users to buy usually with excessive discounts.Â It’s now the task of keeping those customers and encouraging repeat buys.
It’s well known that discounting does not engender loyalty necessarily and so retailers need to find other ways to add value.
First lets see what customers actually want:
A recent study by EMEA concluded that the two biggest factors, likely to influence consumer spending during a credit crunch, are competitive prices (79%) and a combination of good prices AND good customer service (72%).
Retailers relying on brand pedigree, product uniqueness or reputation to see them through the downturn in spending may come unstuck as these were listed as the three least influential factors.
In a recent New Media Age survey consumers said:
89% believe internet has better prices
68% said online was cheaper (taking into account ancillary costs of “outside” shopping
81% said Internet offered wider range
89% cited ease of finding items
95% cited ease of comparing prices
Where the Internet could improve
74% said lack of waiting made high street attractive [Personnally I've never understood why retailers cant offer next day delivery if items are ordered before a certain time]
70% said customer service was better on the high street [there's so much to say about this that I will write a separate blog post about this]
So customer service (combined with customer service) and lack of waiting are key elements that customers want.Â Lets see what other retailers are doing to respond to this.Â I am assuming that if you run and e-commerce site that you have already covered the basics: free delivery, free returns, properly organised website with your telephone number and security in place etc..
We have scoured the Internet to see whatÂ successful retailers have come up with in terms of building customer loyalty and service over and beyond the usual discounting:
Customer service – Delivery
It’s always baffled me that retailers still think it’s ok to take 5 days to arrange delivery.Â Next day delivery should be standard for most products. ASOS have made a start on this at least by offering Saturday deliveries at no extra cost as well as offering a next day service.Â With 74% retailers citing this as making the high street more attractive I would have thought this should be the most pressing thing for most retailers.Â Use a branded delivery service that can represent your brand.
Customer service availability
Zappos, an Online retailer that specializes in selling apparel and shoes has been able to grow from $1.6 million in 2000 to $597 million in revenue last year alone. Some of Zapposâ€™ highlight features include their excellent customer service and a free overnight shipping on all orders. Over the past 8 years.Â “We`re continuing our focus on service, which includes 24/7 customer service, free overnight shipping and free return shipping with a 365-day return policy.”
Customer service – communication
Letting customers know its coming – If you’re sending something bulk then why not call ahead to let the customers know.Â www.naturalcurtaincompany.com do this and it’s very effective as people will tell other people about the great service.
Customer service – Know what your service is.Â 99% right is not enough
Make sure your Website is 100% accurate. Zappos ran into trouble when it used to have the manufacturers drop-ship orders, because their inventory was often off and created backorders and unhappy customers. Even 99% is not good enough.
Amazon – Amazon PrimeÂ – Amazon Prime is an exclusive membership program that gives you and your family the benefits of unlimited One-Day shipping on eligible Amazon.co.uk purchases for an annual membership fee of Â£47.97. During your one month trial, you will enjoy all the benefits of being an Amazon Prime member.
Understand FREEMIUM – the concept of making money out of giving things away for FREE.Â This is not for eveyone but you need to understand the power of it. What ever you are selling think of what can be given away for free which will add value to your proposition. Give your service away for free, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.” viz google, facebook – read more http://inside.123-reg.co.uk/archives/chris-anderson-free-long-tail
Communication – The ability to communicate with your customer base is now as important as ever. The ability to get your message to your clients quickly and efficiently can translate into large profits. Blogging, mailing lists and participation in social networks can and do make a difference. Again using the example of Zappos over 400 members of staff use the microblogging service Twitter. This gives the company the ability to contact thousands of people in an instant about offers or new products. The CEO of Zappos alone has 35,000 people watching his updates.
Discount vouchers being sent with each delivery. Whilst constant discounting is not the direction to go in, it’s good for encouraging viral sales.
Membership -Sexypantiesandnaughtyknickers.com – get 15% off for life once you reach a minimum spending limit (bronze) then 25% silver etc.
more to follow…as we find them
December 10th, 2008.
After reading some interesting posts over at Holistic Search and Brand Republic, one of the largest florist chains worldwide is suing Marks & Spencers and Flowers Direct for using the Interflora brand name to trigger AdWords ads for their competitors.
Google updated their policy on brand name keywords and trademark terms that trigger competitorâ€™s adverts to display back in May. Previously, competitors could not bid on other brand names to display their ads, but since Google updated their policies on brand name keywords and trademarks, competitors in various industries have been using competition brand names to trigger their adverts.
It has been reported keywords include â€œInterfloraâ€, â€œIntafloraâ€ and â€œInter-floraâ€ which have been used to trigger the display of competitors adverts.
Interfloraâ€™s argument is that the actions of Marks & Spencers and Flowers Direct are a breach of trademark law, as marketing director Michael Barringer stated:
â€œThe Interflora brand is extremely valuable and we will not tolerate competitors taking advantage of it and infringing our right.â€
However, both M&S and Flowers Direct are abiding by the Google Terms of Service- no mention of the band is made within the advert itself and is now somewhat of a common practice across industries, as a spokeswoman for Marks & Spencers was quoted saying they are â€œextremely surprised by Interfloraâ€™s course of actionâ€ adding it was industry-wide practice and not unlawful.
Interestingly, there has been no mention of Interflora or any other company suing Google over the use of trademark terms in AdWords for allowing this to happen.
This is not the first report of companies suing over the use of their trademark terms on Google AdWords either, as Dominic Farnsworth (a partner at Lewis Silkin) commented:
“There are a lot of legal letters flying around in the background at the moment and many disputes are being resolved without the need for legal proceedingsâ€.
This poses an interesting situation for advertisers and search agencies- how long is it before competitors terms cause a lawsuit against your company or client, or how many more examples are needed before Google considers refining their policies? As Google have recently allowed the advertising of gambling and alcohol related sites, it appears they are expanding their policies to get even more from their advertising revenueâ€”could this be Googleâ€™s solution to the current economic downturn? Let us know your comments.
September 17th, 2008.
The recent news of the fall of Lehman Brothers Bank has caused a knock on effect for large and small businesses around the world. More and more companies are assessing their expenditure, including online marketing budgets.
However, the latest report from Netimperative shows that online advertising is proving to be the choice advertising stream for small and large businesses, having a dramatically increased prediction for advertising spend over the next couple of years.
According to the report:
â€œ81% of advertisers claim that their allocated online ad spend has grown in 2008 and predict that it will continue to do so over the next couple of yearsâ€
With a predicted increase of 16% in 2009 and 17% for 2010.
Furthermore, â€œthree quarters (73%) state that they are increasing their use of online as an advertising medium whilst 31% of advertisers claim their use of TV is decreasing and 40% cite a decrease in the use of newspapers.â€
So What Does This Mean For Your Business?
In this economic climate companies are rightly evaluating where and why they are spending money. However, businesses looking to cut back on their advertising spends should be aware of this report when deciding which advertising streams to cut back on.
The predicted growth of online advertising according to this report is set to be potentially the best, with TV and newspaper advertising decreasing. With the support of these latest statistics, it would be a wise move to increase your online marketing budget, as the growth of your online audience delivers cost effective results.
The timing for increasing your online advertising return on your business is now. With the growth prediction for online advertising for the next two years, increasing your online advertising budget now will help increase brand perception and brand awareness for your business, whilst bringing greater return on your online advertising spend.