Tag Archives: digital

e-commerce – it’s crowded out there …

shopping malls

In the world of e-commerce, it can be difficult to become known, seen or heard, particularly if you’re an SME without deep pockets to spend on the marketing machine.  There’s so much activity in the digital world that, as a customer, it’s a little like going down a high street with rows of shops that are thousands deep and thousands of storeys high, each offering different goods – and somehow you have to find what you want without a map.

This means that helping your customers find you has never been more important.  Whether it’s PR or celebrity endorsement, e-mail or TV, the need for publicity and marketing through multiple channels is an increasingly essential element for businesses in the world of e-commerce.

A friend of mine had seven siblings – and, as a child, getting the attention of one of her parents when they were all together at mealtimes could be tough.  Her tactics ranged from shouting to crying to getting up and quietly speaking directly into an ear.

Which is just like marketing.  Broadcast, social media, PR and advertising all offer an opportunity to be heard by your target market – if they’re listening.  But sometimes it can be helpful to deliver a personal or private message directly into the ear of the individual you are targeting.  That’s what direct marketing is about – whether it’s email, direct mail, telephone or social.  And it’s even more powerful if used in combination with an awareness-generating channel in the first place so that there’s recognition when the direct marketing message is received.

For me, that’s the challenge and fun of multi-channel marketing – using all the relevant resources available to get your message across, and making the message relevant to specific individuals.  And with the sheer volume and detail of data available now, there’s no real reason not to do an exceptional job of identifying, understanding, targeting and reaching your customers with appropriate messages and offers.

Even better, you can actually measure the results and see how wisely you’ve spent your budget – an essential part of planning your next campaign.

In our marketing and data consultancy, Tuffill Verner Associates, we have helped businesses generate awareness and sales both on and offline.  With over 30 years experience we provide results-driven, data-led, clear, tailored practical and creative advice to businesses who want to make the most out of their marketing activity.

If you’d like to chat about your business issues, please call Victoria on 01787 277742 or email victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk

 

Retargeting. Good customer service … or something more sinister?

Laptop Magnifying glass

Retargeting, like so many other aspects of marketing, data and targeting, if done well, is simply good customer service.  But those who do it badly create an impression of something much more sinister.

On average, 98% of first-time visitors to a website leave without making a purchase.  That’s a huge number – in fact, it’s nearly everyone – so converting as large a portion as possible of the 98% is a significant strategic objective for a broad range of businesses.

That’s where retargeting comes in.  It is an increasingly widespread, highly targeted online conversion tool which allows you to keep your products or brand in front of potential customers who have visited your website, but left during the buying process before purchasing any product.  It is an important strategic component for any online retailers and, similarly, for those businesses which use websites to attract customers.

What is retargeting?

Though retargeting has evolved into a number of different forms, this blog focuses primarily on site retargeting.

Retargeting process

Retargeting process

The retargeting process works through a simple piece of code that sits, unseen by visitors, on your website, or possibly on your newsletter or digital ads. This code (“retargeting pixel”) has no effect on your website’s performance, but simply drops a cookie onto your new visitor’s browser.

This browser cookie is the vital element of technology that allows you to “follow” your non-buying prospect across  the internet.  Once they have left your site, when they go back on line and browse the internet, the cookie lets your retargeter know that they have appeared on another site. If there is available ad space on that site, your retargeter will bid for the space, and, if they are the highest bidder, the ad will run.

Though it sounds cumbersome, the whole automated process occurs in real-time so it takes just a fraction of a second for the ad space to be bought.  Your ad then appears immediately on the third party’s website as the page loads up.

Clearly the same process can be adopted for those of your visitors who have actually purchased something from your site – in which case your strategy is to get them back to your website to buy more from you.

Are there any data compliance issues?

If you are using site retargeting, it is essential that your website is cookie compliant. The retargeting cookie will store the site visit data, but does not store any sensitive information, such as the visitor’s name or address.  In other words, the browser cookie is anonymous (the IP address – for now at any rate – is not considered personal data).

However, to be compliant, your website must, as a minimum, inform and all visitors that cookies are used, and explain the purposes for which those cookies are used – including the fact that they are used to target advertising material.

 

Who can use retargeting

Clearly retargeting is a great tool for e-commerce.  But any business which uses a website to attract visitors with the intent of gaining engagement of some form should consider retargeting as part of their prospect conversion strategy.

For example, it’s a terrific tool for B2B marketing, where the sales process may take some time.  Making sure that a prospect continues to see ads for your website while they are going through their own reviews and evaluations is a great way to stay in the front of their minds.

It is also helpful for charities who can continue to keep their causes very much in the forefront of their visitors’ minds even after they have left the website.   Schools marketing is a little like B2B in that the parents take somewhat longer to consider the best school for their child – so it is a helpful branding tool and opportunity to remind parents of your particular USPs, and keep them at the front of their minds.

Basically retargeting works well for any business who relies on a website to gain customers, donors or sales.

Key considerations for retargeting success or failure

There are a number of key factors which must be considered and optimised when setting up a retargeting campaign.  The main points are summarised below:

  • Segmentation
    • Generally we advise that clients use different ads for different pages of the website to ensure appropriate ads and offers are made
    • Creative approach needs to be
      • Concise, clear and clickable to ensure maximum engagement
      • Consistent branding keeps your brand fresh in the prospect’s mind
      • Ongoing fresh or rotated creative approach avoids response wear-out
      • Number and frequency of advertisements is critical
        • Too many will annoy and / or worry your visitors
        • Too few will not serve the purpose of keeping you in the forefront of visitors’ minds
        • Retargeting customers who have already bought the product you are advertising is sure to aggravate and alienate your customer. So, once a customer has bought from you, either change the creative or omit them from your retargeting campaign.
        • Choose the right retargeting provider
          • One provider is better than many as you won’t be competing with yourself for ad space and driving prices up accordingly
          • Test and measure results for future retargeting refinements
            • Repeat visitor rates
            • Sales analysis
            • ROI analysis – which should be broken down by campaign and tests, for example (as illustrated below):
              • Creative tests
              • Frequency tests
              • Price and offer tests

Retargeting metrics

What makes retargeting so effective?

It has always been relatively expensive to gain a new customer, and far less so to persuade an existing customer or warm prospect to convert.  That’s why retargeting is so effective in ROI terms.  The cost relates to people who have already deliberately chosen to look at your brand, products, prices or offers.  This means that you are simply targeting those who have a demonstrated interest in something you are offering, but for some reason have hesitated before actually making the purchase. Retargeting is a means of tipping them over the edge and persuading them to buy.  The usual marketing tactics continue to apply – such as the use of discounts, free delivery and so on.

Retargeting is just one piece of the total marketing strategy

Of course, there’s no point in having a clever conversion strategy if you do not have the volume of website visitors to convert.   Retargeting is a great conversion tool, but unless people can actually find your website, they won’t visit and you can’t target them.  So there is still a need to drive visitors to your site through appropriate channels – affiliates, newsletter, press, social, TV, radio, content, Adwords, keywords, direct mail, leaflets, email and so on – as illustrated below.

driving website traffic

So what do think?  There’s a fine line between good customer service and the concept of individual lack of privacy, combined with a feeling that large corporations are spying on us when we use our computers.

My own view is that if retargeting is handled compliantly and sensibly, it can only make sense to offer people goods or services that are of interest.  And I genuinely believe that if businesses have not yet started looking at retargeting themselves, they will be missing out on activity that has significant ROI benefits.

Whether you agree or disagree, or if you have a story to tell, just reply below and let’s start a conversation.

Victoria Tuffill – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk   01787 277742 or  07967 148398.   Have a squint at  our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked In, and Twitter

© Victoria Tuffill July 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Illustrations may not be used without written consent.

Blogs … does size matter?

size doesn't matter cropped top and bottom

For bloggers, the answer lies in a question.  Why do we blog in the first place? 

There can be a myriad of reasons – from enjoyment of the process to a desire to share knowledge or help others.  But for many, blogging is a business tool, which can be used to generate awareness of the business or individual’s credibility, reputation, knowledge, approach and even personality.

Clearly, there are many ways of achieving increased readership and awareness, whether through social media and online opportunities; use of email and newsletters;   sharing, liking, following and making pertinent, relevant and interesting remarks on other people’s blogs;  guest blogging works well in both directions, especially if you can get interesting writers with credibility to contribute. These will actually increase your readership because they’ll tell all their mates and colleagues that they’ve written a guest blog – and where to find it.

“I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to write a short one”

But this particular blog is concerned with size, or length, which, combined with frequency, can be important in terms of readership.  Starting with frequency, and two aspects in particular:

  1. What do the search engines need to find you and increase your readership?
  2. What do your readers want once they’ve found you?

search engine dogSearch engines rate frequency quite highly – particularly when the blog is relatively new.  So when setting out, it’s useful to provide a blog post several times a week – aiming for quality, good headlines, good subheads, and not forgetting that search engines need key words and tags.   Getting people to comment and discuss is also extremely useful and will spread the word.

Readers, on the other hand, are less concerned with frequency – and more concerned with quality and content.  Especially if they have “followed” your blog and are receiving emails or feeds which have to stand out from all their other emails and feeds.  So, while it is helpful to write and post regularly, writing when you have nothing to say will lead to a dull blog, and readership will plummet (though surely there are enough new developments and topics every day across industries and technology to keep blogs interesting, original, relevant and useful).

As far as size or length is concerned,  the fact that the excellent quotation above has been attributed to so many individuals – from Mark Twain to Ghandi, Pascal to George Bernard Shaw and more – is evidence of its truth.

Seth Godin, in my view, has it absolutely right.  He blogs frequently, sometimes more than once a day.  But he doesn’t feel obliged to write reams every time.  He simply says something relevant, interesting and full of insight – and does so either in many or just a few lines.  As a result, I – and many others – always take the time to read his latest blog – even if only fleetingly.

That, for me as a reader, is the measure of a successful blog – relevant, insightful, and a good read.  And in those circumstances, size is only relevant in that it needs to get all the points across as neatly as possible.

Of course, you may disagree – in which case, just reply below and let’s start a debate…

Victoria Tuffill – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk   01787 277742 or  07967 148398.   Have a squint at  our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked In, and Twitter

Direct marketing – 13 communication channels …

Puffins larger and croppedThere’s a lot of huffing and puffin-g around marketing, even down to definitions of words and phrases. Take Direct Marketing, which seems to have a variety of definitions, including the very limited perception that it is just another name for Direct Mail.

Regardless of channel, direct Marketing is really all about communication. The Wikipedia definition states:Direct marketing is a channel-agnostic form of advertising that allows businesses and non-profits organisations to communicate straight to the customer.

Shouting loudly in public may generate awareness, but it won’t generate effective engagement.

Direct marketing is indeed channel-agnostic. And effective direct marketing needs to be targeted to a specific audience, with the individual marketing communication (through whatever channel) written and designed for the group of individuals who will receive it.

Direct marketing should also generate some kind of measurable reaction or response from the recipient – whether that be to visit (and buy from) a store, website or social media platform; to reply to an email, or to place an order by post, online, mobile or telephone.

Measuring the response to direct marketing activity can be challenging if the desired reaction is less tangible than, for example, an actual purchase or physical response to the marketer.

Over the next months we’ll cover the main channels in our blog, including the top thirteen which are (in no particular order):

  1. Direct Mail
  2. Email
  3. Online
  4. Mobile / smartphone
  5. Telephone
  6. Press advertising
  7. Inserts and product despatches
  8. Social Media
  9. Billing and loyalty devices / vouchers
  10. Direct Response TV
  11. Direct sales (eg Tupperware parties)
  12. Door drops
  13. Content marketing

The disciplines behind direct marketing carry through all of these channels. Regardless of whether you are mailing, calling, advertising or selling online, the key elements of a successful direct marketing campaign are:

  1. Data quality and accuracy (postal address, email address, telephone number, mobile number)
  2. Understanding the customer or prospect (purchase history, demographics, geography, lifestyle and affluence profiles)
  3. Turning data, analysis and research into insight, to ensure appropriate marketing, relevant list and media selection (online and offline); appropriate selection of channels and channel integration
  4. Determining offer and price
  5. Creating copy and design (which will need to be specific to each channel)
  6. Budgeting, including break-even metrics and “what-if” scenarios to evaluate and establish required financial performance
  7. Forecasting response and financial performance based on history and recent evidence
  8. Measuring performance regularly and ongoing
  9. Proactively developing and refining marketing strategy based on performance
  10. Maintaining appropriate levels of service and quality

Finally, there is a great deal of talk about integrated marketing, and while it’s an excellent start to have cohesive brand and messaging delivered through all channels, there’s more to it than that.

Targeting relevant customers through relevant channels based on what the customer wants – while allowing them to respond through their own channel of choice (which may be different again) is a vital part of any successful direct marketing campaign.

The channels should interact in a way designed to ensure engagement – maybe by moving consumers across the channels, for example from TV to social media platforms, like Daz, Innocent, Aero and by getting them involved in alternative or more complex storylines, or voting for favourite characters or flavours, or entering competitions etc. This is the sort of behaviour that engenders brand engagement, affection and loyalty.

More puffins croppedVictoria Tuffill       01787 277742     07967 148398   victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk

new heading for consultancy

Linked in logo twitter logo

The wilful murder of marketing

Punchy title isn’t it.  And, alas, it’s even true.  I, for one, am heartily sick of headlines telling me, and the rest of the world, that direct mail is dead … email is dead … telemarketing is dead … broadcast PR is dead … and so on with any other channel that someone wants wilfully to kill off in order to make a point (or, more worrying, has been written by someone who actually believes what they say).

The real point is that, despite protestations to the contrary, none of those individual elements are dead.  They are simply evolving.  They are part of the past, the present and the future, and need to be embraced in combination with the plethora of channels now available.

The best one I saw recently was “direct marketing is dead…” Well, direct marketing has never been more alive.  It’s evolving all the time.  And increasingly all marketers are evolving into direct marketers by the nature of the channels available.

What’s key to all this is that little has  fundamentally changed about human interaction.  We’ve always been social animals. It’s just that now we have technology that helps us keep in touch more easily, more widely, and – arguably – more superficially.  The internet, Skype, tablets, smart phones and smart TVs have been added to post, email and telephone.  And it’s fascinating to see just how quickly the ‘channel’ and ‘delivery’ and data opportunities are growing.

Also fascinating to see who’s keeping up and how they’re using the variety of tools – even those that are allegedly dead.  Last week, we received a text message from our local, The Writhing Hare, which showed the menu for that night’s Italian night. Guess what – we picked up the telephone, rang six of our friends, and booked a table for eight.  Very simple marketing.  Very inexpensive.  Highly effective.  Oh, and the pub was packed.

Horses for courses – it’s about using the right channels in effective combinations – and measuring results efficiently so that marketing attention and resource is focussed effectively. Which can be challenging in itself as the channel that reaches the consumer is increasingly less likely to be the channel through which the consumer ultimately buys …

But it’s worth remembering – humans have always interacted on a social level  – but now businesses are starting to understand that the consumer should be the centre of communications.  It is the consumer that makes their own choices about how they want to deal with retailers, brands, leisure centres etc.  They will choose whether they post a coupon, pick up a telephone, go online, send an email, or use social media to buy, ask a question or make a point.

The businesses who listen to their customers and respond accordingly will be the ones who succeed.

We’ll welcome your thoughts or comments on this post – and if you need any help with your marketing or communications strategy and/or activity – across channels or through specific channels – please don’t hesitate to give me a call.  If I can help, I’ll be happy to.  If not, I’ll at least point you to someone who will provide sensible strategic advice.

Victoria Tuffill
Partner, Tuffill Verner Associates

Tel:         +44 (0)7967 148398  /  +44 (0)1787 277742
Email:     victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk
Web:       http://www.tuffillverner.co.uk

Victoria Tuffill is a direct marketing consultant with over 30 years experience. She founded Tuffill Verner Associates consultancy with Alastair Tuffill in 1996. She is also founder and Director of Fraudscreen – a data tool that assists in the prevention of 1st party fraud. Her experience ranges across businesses including publishing, home shopping, insurance, utilities, telcos and collections.

© Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates, September 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.