The holidays are a magical time of year. It’s the season where we are bombarded with as many brand promotions as we are Christmas songs. Over the past decade, shoppers have slowly quit spending the day after Thanksgiving clawing through massive crowd scenes in search of the best deals. Instead, e-commerce websites have been experiencing a steady growth in sales as online shopping has become a much less-chaotic alternative.
The promotions associated with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and of course, Amazon’s 52 days of holiday deals, have put a lot of pressure on e-commerce sites to step up their platform. The holidays are a time for brands to innovate and improve. But before they can do any of that, they’ll need to make sure they have their basics covered. So – here’s a list of some absolute necessities you’ll need to have on your site this holiday season.
1. Update Your Homepage
Your landing page should reflect the jolly time of year. In addition to the layout, the homepage needs to highlight sales, curated shopping lists, or provide insights on season-specific products.
Amazon does a phenomenal job of this by making the holiday shopping experience extremely user-friendly and informative. For instance, their Holiday Toy List shows parents the most sought-after toys of the season for gift inspiration. They even break up the lists into age groups to make the shopping process as simple as possible.
2. Stock Up & Personalize The Shopping Experience
According to a survey by Deloitte, the 2016 holiday season is expected to see more online shopping than ever before. As much as 50% of customers plan to use e-commerce to complete their shopping. Getting a head start to prepare promotions and stock up on inventory will make the heavy traffic times run a whole lot smoother.
Brands must be ready to offer an online experience that reminds holiday shoppers why they wanted to avoid the high street crowd and rush in the first place. Personalizing the experience for the user is a great way to direct online shopping habits. Research conducted by Marketlive found that 55% of online shoppers are likely to take advantage of tailored product information. For example, Target’s Cartwheel app allows users to enter their shopping preferences at the beginning to create an individualized experience.
Here is a look at the app:
Immediately after creating an account, the user is directed a page where they can choose their favorite product categories so the app can pick up on specific patterns to provide personalized recommendations with incentives for saving.
Another big part of preparing for the busy season is getting your sales and customer service staff into the holiday spirit. Every team member should know what is expected of them and have their work cut out. Luckily, there are tools to help.
WorkZone is a feature rich scheduling and collaboration tool that also lets you track employee responsibilities and workload.
3. Create a Sense of Urgency
Regardless of the feel-good mentality that the holiday season brings, there is an equal level of stress that consumers feel during the shopping process. Everyone wants to get the best deals on their gifts. Behavioral psychologists indicate that “urgent situations cause us to suspend deliberate thought and act quickly.”
Two of the biggest ways e-commerce companies encourage urgency is by promoting limited-time offers and emphasizing scarcity.
A good tool to use to create a sense of urgency is a countdown timer or banner. Simply Hike uses this directly within their product listings. A ticking timer down to the second showing exactly how long a deal will last works to get an impulse decision out of the user by encouraging the “need to have it now” mentality.
In this example, American Apparel alerts the shopper when inventory is running low directly on the product page, urging them to buy fast before stock runs out.
88% of all impulse purchases are made because an item is on sale, according to a study by BetaBait. Stressing urgency on promotions should be be a top priority for e-commerce site this holiday season.
4. Provide Social Proof
Consumers today love reading product reviews before making a purchase. A survey by Dimensional Research, reported by Zendesk, found that 90% of participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions.
Target displays guest reviews on their product pages so when a customer is doing their in-depth research, they can see exactly how other customers felt about purchasing this particular item.
Amazon on the other hand, shows customer reviews on the product listings. This way, shoppers can see what others think of a product before they do their in-depth research.
Displaying positive customer testimonials on your website can be the key to gaining new shoppers and seeing your conversion rate skyrocket.
5. Make Sure the Purchasing Path is Simple
Every step involved in buying is an opportunity for the shopper to reconsider. If a shopper is registered for your site, make the process quick.
Amazon is famous for their “1-Click” buying option. This allows registered users to fill out all their payment and shipping options so they can simply buy an item with one click while they take care of the rest.
Ebay is another example of a fantastic checkout system. Ebay gives the user all the information they need such as buying and shipping options, seller reviews, and remaining stock.
6. Have a Simple Return Policy
A quality return process is crucial in retaining customers. For example, Zappos is well-known for their simplified return policy. They provide 24/7 customer support and offer users plenty of refund options in addition to free returns.
For the shopper’s convenience, Zappos lists their return policy at the bottom of each product listing to ensure the user knows they have a 365 day safety net should they not like the item they bought.
The promise of free returns can drastically increase conversion rates. A study reported by CNBC found that the Zappos free-return policy boosted customer spending by 357%!
7. Optimize for Mobile
Over the past decade, mobile e-commerce has become the preferred platform for shoppers. The experience is now much more convenient for consumers. In fact, a survey from Nielsen found that 72% of smartphone shoppers make purchases from their homes. In turn, this has made the retail business a lot more competitive. Consumers today use their smartphones throughout the entire shopping process from product research, to price comparison, to purchasing. They want their shopping experience to be quick and simplified. To survive, brands must cater to this concept.
For example, Finish Line’s homepage on their mobile apps provides a great portal for shoppers to see the latest releases and view rewards to jumpstart the shopping experience.
Optimizing for mobile goes beyond a stellar website. The increasing trend of mobile users correlates significantly to a strong social media presence. Posts should have simple and concise calls-to-action with links to your website. In this tweet, Toys R Us discusses a current promotion, the savings, a sense of urgency, and a call-to-action with a link to their website.
— ToysRUs (@ToysRUs) November 14, 2016
8. Deliver Personalized Content
Personalized, feel-good content is par for the course during the holidays. Consumers today love to feel engaged with the brands they interact with, especially this time of year. One of the best ways to personalize content is with email marketing. According to Experian, a personalized subject line is 26% more likely to be opened than a generic line.
Tools such as MailChimp and Constant Contact are great for creating unique, personalized email marketing campaigns to promote deals, products, news, events, or anything about your business. Here is an example from La Provence. In this email, they display their current promotions and provide information on the product with a clear call to action.
In addition, these tools also provide data on how well each campaign performs so you can make necessary adjustments.
9. Provide a Live Chat Option
Holiday shoppers are more than likely going to have questions and concerns about your product or service. This means support platforms need to be on point. A survey conducted by BI Intelligence found that 60% of U.S consumers have not completed a purchase due to a poor customer service. This translates to approximately $83 billion in lost sales among retailers.
The key to boosting e-commerce conversions is to keep shoppers on your page. Including a live chat function on your website is a great way to keep customers from leaving. There are many support tools you can use to supplement your website. For example, LiveChat is a tool that allows customers to avoid long queues and connects them instantly with customer support – while they are still on your website.
A lot of companies are utilizing live chat tools in their e-commerce strategies. Canyon Bicycles has options in which the user can choose their preferred language for the entire website including the chat function so the visitors can be directed to the appropriate representative. By doing this, the brand works to adapt to wider customer base.
Over to You
Boosting e-commerce conversion rates over the holiday season all comes down to being prepared for the rush. You can never be prepared enough. Year after year, businesses need to keep improving and innovating to finish the year strong. Good luck and Happy Holidays!
About the Author: Pratik Dholakiya is the co-founder of E2M Solutions Inc.
Excuse me. Um. Barn Dance is now avail…
Speak up. Enunciate.
He’s right behind me, isn’t he?
What you want to do is take a deep breath, relax your ears, and then PROJECT!
He is a donkey-publicist of strong opinion and this isn’t the first time he’s corrected me in public.
Get to the point, old girl.
available AT AMAZON now,
AT BARNES AND NOBLE soon,
or SIGNED books available on HERE!
Bray it out! That’s me on the cover.
Buy Barn Dance now. Thank you. The goat says thanks, too.
And please consider writing a review of Barn Dance or Stable Relation or Relaxed & Forward. (
View original post 69 more words
- Christmas trees can harbor various insects.
- Vigorously shake the tree before bringing it into your home.
- Look out for bird nests, since they may contain parasites such as mites and lice.
- Spruce spider mites appear as tiny red and brown dots when shaken out of Christmas trees.
- Some Christmas tree hitchhikers are Spiders, Cinara Aphids, Bark Beetles, Mites & Psocids (Bark Lice).
- Insects brought into the warmth of a home behave as though spring has come and become active again.
- Cinara Aphids and their eggs are often hidden down inside the lower branches of Christmas trees where they are hard to find.
- The Praying Mantis and Gypsy Moth will lay eggs in Christmas trees. Look for the walnut-sized tan egg masses. If you find any, remove them.
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The Latest Influencer Marketing News & Insights: Musical.ly Has 130 Million Users, Birchbox Wins With Snapchat, Frustrated YouTubers, & More
This week on the Mediakix blog, we shared:
- A case study on a recent LG influencer campaign on Instagram
- A product demonstration video for Snapchat Spectacles
- Interviews with top influencers on whether they preferred Instagram or Snapchat Stories
- Examples of brands working with ASMR YouTubers
Birchbox Masters Snapchat
Snapchat has been notoriously difficult for brand marketers to grasp due to limited tracking and analytics. This has led to a number of brands coming up with some creative ways to measure their conversion of Snapchat followers into customers. Birchbox, a beauty subscription box service, has been including a vanity URL, birch.ly/Steals, in its Stories ad copy (Digiday). The company found that traffic from Snapchat posts was consistently higher than traffic from organic Facebook posts. This was despite the fact that the URLs were un-clickable so users had to screenshot and manually type it in.
In addition to its Snapchat campaign, Birchbox also launched a campaign on Instagram Stories over the Black Friday weekend. Surprisingly, Birchbox marketers reported that more people were visiting the site through the vanity link on Snapchat than on Instagram Stories. Their test indicated that even though Instagram offers a much larger ad inventory, conversion rates don’t seem to be as high. Their test also revealed that Instagram’s swipe up features could perhaps be disrupting user journeys and killing response (Digiday).
Related Post: How To Do A Snapchat Takeover In 6-Steps [Infographic]
Musical.ly Is The Next Social Media Platform
This week, co-founder and co-CEO of lip-syncing app, Musical.ly, Alex Zhu announced that they now had over 130 million registered users and 40 million monthly active users (TechCrunch). Zhu emphasized that content on the platform was growing at an exponential pace. Musical.ly sees 1 million new videos uploaded daily and has an active community of creators, with over 25% of daily active users defined as content creators (TechCrunch). For Musical.ly, a large number of creators means that the app can spread its wings as a full-fledged social network while serving as an outlet for general entertainment.
While Musical.ly’s growing user base makes it a new and largely unexplored influencer marketing platform, brand marketers should seize the opportunity to reach an audience that gravitates towards “in-the-moment” style content. As Musical.ly shapes up potentially to be Generation Z’s social media app of choice, marketers must adapt by creating their own content or by partnering with rising influencers on the platform (Digiday).
Related Post: The Top 20 Musical.ly Stars “Musers” [Infographic List]
Top YouTubers Making Millions…And Still Unhappy?
This week, Forbes released the highest paid YouTube stars, with PewDiePie topping the chart at $15 million, Roman Atwood coming in second at $8 million, and Lilly Singh in third, at $7.5 million (Forbes). Brand partnerships with social media stars are becoming more and more popular, and the growth these stars are seeing is a reflection that.
While the top social media influencers are doing well, they are highly aware of how their presence and realize their value is only worth as much as the platform they are working on. This week, YouTube stars have been complaining that changes with YouTube’s algorithm has led to a general decline in video views (Mashable). YouTube reassured that changes in their algorithm are meant to ensure accurate reporting on the website, although top creator PewDiePie is not convinced (BBC). He vowed to take his channel off of YouTube after reaching 50 million subscribers. Turns out he was just joking (YouTube).
Related Post: The Top YouTube Influencers—A Quick Resource Guide
Social Video And Influencer Marketing In 2017
Ad spend in mobile and social video is set to experience enormous growth in the coming year (Digiday). The experience of consuming video online is being enhanced by new features on social media platforms, including Facebook Live and Snapchat Discovery.
Growth in social video is being bolstered by Generation Z, which is encouraging for brands involved in influencer marketing. Increasingly defined by their online personalities, Generation Z believes that who they are online, what they like online, and who follows them online is an extension and reflection of who they are themselves (The New York Times). In order to reach Generation Z, brands should look to online influencers to reach a young audience.
L’Oreal, for instance, is using social media influencers in an unprecedented way. Its “Beauty Squad” is composed of five of the UK’s most influential beauty bloggers (combined following of 5 million). Each of the members were recruited for their expertise in specific areas (skincare, hair, etc). They essentially act as brand ambassadors for L’Oreal and continually create content to drive engagement for new products. Rather than doing a one-off post with a one-hit influencer, L’Oreal is aiming for a more concerted approach in order to drive authenticity (eConsultancy).
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Optimizing the customer experience is a great way to get new customers. It’s also one of the best ways of fostering customer loyalty.
According to Teradata, only 41% of marketing executives are using customer engagement data to inform their marketing strategy.
Despite this, marketers and other organizational leaders alike are neglecting the customer before and after the sale. The biggest barrier to even beginning is usually the lack of a deep understanding of the customer in the first place.
Having a comprehensive understanding of your customers is key to achieving core business goals. Whether you’re trying to build (or optimize) the customer experience, creating more engaging content or increasing sales. Knowing your customers better than they do is key.
In this article, I’m going to outline 5 techniques you can implement to understand your customers better. We’ll look at both qualitative and quantitative data, as well as at the tools and mindsets you need to equip to get started successfully.
1. Apply Intelligent Customer Engagement
An optimized customer experience is valuable for revenue and retention. If you get it right, it can be a source of customer insight.
Engaging with your customers in real-time has become more easily accessible thanks to new tools. Messenger is becoming an ever more popular customer service channel, while tools like Drift allow you to talk with your customers as they browse your website:
These channels are a means of collecting customer insight. Your proprietary data from interacting with your customers, regardless of the channel, can help you understand them better. Work with your customer service teams to look for patterns and react to the insight you generate.
On top of this, nothing beats customer development. Getting your customers on the phone on a regular basis can help you go deeper into their pains, needs and challenges.
This is exactly what Alex Turnbull, Founder of Groove does, in order to understand his customers more. He schedules regular calls so he can fully understand what they love or dislike about his product.
As a result, he’s helped improve his onboarding process, turned unhappy customers into happy customers and created more sophisticated buyer personas.
As you work to keep your customers engaged during the first stages of the customer journey, think of your budding relationship as a two-way street. Encourage customers to share their thoughts and opinions by including a customer satisfaction survey into your email drip.
SurveyGizmo suggests these three key principles to follow when designing a survey:
- Remove bias: Ask the customer for their opinion without projecting your own. Get their uninfluenced, impartial opinion. You want genuine insights, even if they’re negative. An example of this could be something as simple as “What do you think we could do better?”
- Be concrete: Use simple language that asks for feedback on a specific topic. For example, “How have you improved marketing effectiveness using our software?” will help to determine the value your customers are getting from you.
- Focus: Your surveys should address one area of the customer experience. The aim is to get insights that you can then act upon.
Keep these things in mind as you personalize your customer survey with questions pertaining to your brand and product.
2. Create More Robust Buyer Personas
Many marketers make the mistake of using generic demographics like age, profession, and location to develop their buyer personas. These data points simply don’t provide enough information to create messaging that resonates with your audience on an emotional level.
One way to dig deeper into customer preferences is to use the Acquisitions tab on Google Analytics to see which social media outlets, industry blogs and professional forums your site traffic comes from. Then, apply this information to your personas so you can find out where and when to reach them more effectively.
Additionally, acquiring keyword data is a helpful way to discover the terms and descriptions that certain buyer personas use to describe your services.
To segment customers based on keyword searches, for example, use Google Webmaster Tools to create a list of common keywords that drive people to your site. Then, group the keywords into overarching themes and assign to different personas based on the data you have available.
This video by Bryan Harris will help you find ways to get around “keyword not provided” and help you identify keywords people are using to get to your website.
To put this language into action, incorporate these keywords across your website copy, content marketing efforts, and other online interactions. Speaking the same language as your customers is a subtle way to make your current audience feel more welcomed.
3. Generate Data from Customer Analytics
From clicking on a link to reading through a web page, every customer action offers valuable insight into customer behavior.
To determine how customers interact with your website, you can try a user behavior tracking tool. Tools like Google Analytics and Inspectlet are great tools for gathering insights such as time on page and bounce rate. Inspectlet can even provide short videos of users on your page in real time.
Another obvious tool is Kissmetrics. Their platform tracks the behavior of each of your customers, allowing you to manage and gather insights on specific segments.
The behavioral data you collect should lead you to conclusions about what your audience doesn’t understand, what they do and don’t like, and how you can create a stronger website experience.
If people had trouble navigating to a certain sales page, for example, adjust the interface to allow for a more user-friendly experience.
If there’s one page people spend more time on than others, analyze that page’s content to see what’s retaining people’s attention. Most importantly, if there’s a page with a high bounce rate, try to see what’s making people leave.
4. Anticipate, Predict, and Plan for the Future
Creating a plan for future customer engagement is just as important as creating a plan for the present. This puts customer experience teams in the right frame of mind to respond to customers during stressful or challenging situations.
Predictive modeling software mines existing customer data to identify cyclical patterns and trends that can inform decision making. Two great tools are RapidMiner and Angoss’ customer analytics, both of which create realistic future models.
To see how predictive modeling informs customer strategy, imagine you work for a SaaS company that wants to adjust its product roadmap to anticipate customer needs.
Looking at historical behavioral data will show you which features customers have found most valuable over time, and which features they didn’t use. Understanding your most popular and most visited pages can also inform your content strategy, focusing on topics and formats that will best solve your audiences challenges.
Draw trends across the most commonly-used features to determine why your customers liked them. Additionally, looking at market trends and analysis will give you a good idea of what other companies in your space have already accomplished, so you can devise new features that explore these areas.
Julia Cupman of B2B International emphasis the importance of market research:
“Many companies turn to disciplined market research as a form of insurance, i.e. as a means of reducing business risk. The next section looks at how market research is used in product development – not only as insurance, but also as a tool to establish needs and to obtain intelligence on market potential.”
The above image shows how all stages of the product lifecycle benefits from market research. As you can see, continuous market research throughout the product roadmap naturally leads to more sales. The more you understand your market, the better product/market fit you have.
5. Traverse Your Customer’s Path
The only way to understand the unique and dynamic customer buying journey is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
This is made possible by an advanced technique called customer journey mapping — a method where companies create a detailed, graphical representation of the customer journey based on critical touch points — interactions between a customer and your brand before, during, or after purchase.
Let’s use Uber as an example to define touchpoints and see how they apply to customer journey mapping. Minor touch points include activities like downloading the app, or following the app on social media.
Major touch points, on the other hand, include things like requesting a ride, or completing driver training. Once touch points are defined, explore the circumstances affecting each touchpoint.
For example, a marketer at Uber might ask: what influenced the rider to download the app for the first time? Was it related to Uber’s customer referral program? Engage your internal team with these issues to get a well-rounded perspective and promote collaborative problem solving.
When you identify failed touchpoints, such as when a customer fails to use the Uber app they downloaded, establish a plan for contacting these customers.
You may want to create milestones, such as when an app user hasn’t logged into their account in three months, or when an avid customer suddenly stops using the product. It’s best if your customer experience team is able to call, write, or meet with customers directly to understand why they’re disengaged.
If you don’t have these resources, create an email marketing drip specifically focused on re-engaging your customers based on certain milestones.
Thanks to advanced analytics, behavioral recording tools, and stronger customer touchpoints, understanding customer behavior has gotten easier than ever.
The techniques outlined in this article are common practices meant to inform and inspire your customer engagement efforts, but they should always be catered to what’s right for your audience.
What are your favorite tools and strategies for increasing customer engagement? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.
It was last spring when this ancient donkey came to the farm. In the beginning, we thought she might not make it. Nobody likes change but we couldn’t tell if it was a hunger strike or her organs shutting down.
Then she nibbled and sipped and gave us a chance. She gained weight. Upper-thirties, we’re thinking. She has no teeth; she can’t graze. Her big old ears are mostly deaf and her eyesight is poor. We call her Lilith.
And I’m not saying Lilith’s quirky, but the only friend she’s made is the goat. And that only happened after she managed to kick him in the head.
Some days her walk was almost remotely fluid, all things considered. But by fall, she took a bad step sometimes, and it developed into a limp. After a few months of actual nutrition, her hooves started changing. I thought I saw a crack, not that she let me near her hooves.
Let’s be clear; she was alive for a reason and it wasn’t being stupid about her feet. That’s how predators kill donkeys out on the prairie; they clamp down a leg and it’s all over.
At the same time, Lilith developed a new habit of coming up to strangers for a scratch. It almost created the illusion that she’d surrendered. I knew better. If my hand snuck a few inches south of her spine, her hind end came my way fast.
Our dance must have been a strange-looking event; Lilith teetering her butt around stiffly, her hind hooves twitching up and down fast enough to send me scurrying out of her way. Is this what all my years of dressage training have come to? A war of wits with a relic of a donkey. Well, yes.
Choosing to not pick a fight is always the right answer. But it doesn’t mean giving in either. I like to call it peaceful persistence.
Our process had to speed up now that she was hurting. I set a date with Roxann, my farrier, and came up with a plan.
I rigged up makeshift stocks by dragging an old gate into the corner of a pen. I secured the front of the gate to the fence panel at a corner using twine. It isn’t that twine works all that well, but it’s a tradition at this point. Sometimes I even think twine’s good luck. The gate was angled wide, with a bowl of feed at the ready.
Then I led her in and slowly lifted the gate, bringing it parallel to the fence panel, but not tight enough to squeeze Lilith. My friend, Nickole, offered her a snack which was apparently an insult. Lilith pulled back, I held onto the lead rope, and began slowly touching her shoulder. She was mad, nipping at me while I sweet-talked her.
Finally, I lifted the first foot. Good girl. For all the thousands of times I’ve cleaned hooves and never seen a rock, this time there is a sharp one wedged deep by her frog, and I went for it. There’s no telling how long it had been there; years maybe.
It probably would have been good to stop right there, but I worried about what I might find in her other front hoof. She was stomping mad when I got to her other side; meaning stomping quick enough that I couldn’t catch her hoof. Now would have been the time to get frustrated or even just more forceful. I went extra slow picking her hoof up, then quickly picked it clean. We let her hind feet wait. She paused to glare at me good and hard before walking away. Never underestimate a donkey’s memory.
The next week, all I saw was her backside. Instead of our usual scratch-fests, she only seemed to remember the atrocity, and spun gingerly around, kicking at me as she left. If her hooves felt better, she didn’t say so. I went to work melting her new grudge, and just when she was almost accepting scratches again, the farrier came.
The same chute set-up, except that I thought she’d had probably stressed her neck pulling back, so this time her head was loose at the front of the chute and I had a rope behind her rump. Roxann began slowly touching her leg, until finally, Lilith released a foot. Nickole, with the feed pan again; this time Lilith ate a few bites. She was so mad it is more like she bit her feed, the way she wanted to bite us.
The trimming took a few minutes but Lilith stood well. It was a long time on one front foot. After a rest and more sweet talk, lifting the second foot seemed much harder. It would have been the time most people would have doubled down to push on through. She’s little and frail; the three of us could have manhandled her easily.
Instead, my farrier started humming softly, and Lilith lost the will to attack her feed pan or any of us. We all praised her, grumpy as she was. When we finished, she limped away–sore and unhappy.
It didn’t help that the weather turned cold. I was back to wondering about her quality of life. Now she seemed all-over uncomfortable: Still sore in front and her hind seemed worse as well. I gave her a couple more weeks. Everything goes slower with elders.
Then I had the rescue’s vet out to check Lilith. She perked right up and walked toward the vet with curiosity. No way was she standing still for that stethoscope, though. I got the halter slowly over her nose before it occurred to her what that might mean. She walked off while I was trying to clasp the buckle. She kept on pushing and I kept on struggling. Think very slow motion bull-dogging, only now I’m fussing trying to get my gloves off, too. Negotiating; not fighting.
Then Lilith stood quietly in the stocks, picked up her feet fairly peacefully, and she still passively tried to bite the vet, as a matter of pride. The vet scratched her kindly. Who doesn’t love an opinionated old donkey?
Lilith’s diagnosis: Not bad for her age; let’s try some Previcox for the pain, and see if she can be more comfortable. Probably a decent diagnosis for me, too.
That’s how negotiation works; you refuse to escalate. In time, everyone gets to have their way. Just not all at once.
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
When it comes to customer dissatisfaction, Spirit Airlines has consistently been the forerunner in the airline industry. Even in the recent travel report published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index it had the lowest score, much below the average benchmark.
Having said that, you’d expect those numbers to reflect on the company’s growth rate, right?
Wrong. Despite the mounting discontent among its customers, Spirit was the second most profitable airline company in 2015, and its growth rate is far from plateauing.
So what happened here?
Well, all those customers who were “dissatisfied” with Spirit’s poor service were still opting to travel on Spirit, as their deciding factor wasn’t the quality of the service, but the ticket fares. Spirit knows this, and keeps giving customers precisely what they want – nothing more, nothing less.
Numbers can be deceptive; and many times, they don’t necessarily speak the truth. If you’re taking numbers at face value, without digging deeper and getting to the bottom of it all, then you’ll most probably get blindsided.
And in the case of churn, it couldn’t be truer.
It’s well-known that churn is of two basic types: voluntary and involuntary.
While involuntary churn occurs when payments fail due to expired credit cards or any similar reason, voluntary churn predominantly occurs when a customer doesn’t receive the value that they had expected to receive from your product.
The solution to involuntary churn is pretty straightforward – a smart dunning mechanism in place can tackle most of the payment failure scenarios. It’s voluntary churn that needs a bit more thinking through.
And that’s what this post is about – effectively handling (not reducing/mitigating) voluntary churn.
Put simply, should you try to get back every one of those two groups of churned customers?
The Churned Customers Worth Fighting For
First off, not all users who choose to leave your product would’ve been good customers to your business in the long run. Not all of them would’ve found a perfect fit with your product. Peter Fader puts it well:
“Not all customers deserve your company’s best efforts. And despite what the old adage says, the customer is most definitely not always right. Because in the world of customer centricity, there are good customers…and then there is everybody else.”
The “everybody else” mentioned above are whom Lincoln Murphy refers to as “Bad Fit” customers. According to him, if a customer neither receives value from you immediately, nor in the future (under realistic assumptions), then those are the ones who’d come under this category.
And when a Bad Fit customer leaves you, it is, in fact, good churn. And spending your limited resources in bringing them back will be nothing less than futile.
Then there are customers for whom you — apart from delivering immediate value — will be able to deliver future value, in a particular timeframe. Lincoln calls them “Stretch” customers, and these are the ones whom you can strive to get back, provided the stretch is worth it.
Filtering out the 5%
A freemium model is infamous for papering over the cracks, by showing a huge number of sign-ups, and concealing the actual count of the right, engaged customers (again, numbers can be deceptive).
For instance, Chargebee also caters to the early-stage startups, and a majority of the churned customers left because they were shutting down their business. Here there would be no point trying to retain them, and this will again get classified as good churn.
So it’s our job to dig through the fluff and identify the churn that matters. By experience, we’ve learned that those Stretch customers account for only about 5% of the churn.
And to identify that 5%, we implemented a top-down approach, with three major activities:
- Capturing the ‘right’ data from the people who’re leaving
- Using the captured data to influence our next move
- Spot our mistakes, and then prevent them from happening again
Capturing the Right Data
When a user has decided to leave your product for good, filling up an elaborate questionnaire will be the last thing that they’d want to do.
Put yourself in their shoes – they’re clearly not in a pleasant mood while taking the call, and you shouldn’t be rubbing salt to the wound by making the process harder. Adding to that, most businesses fail to capture the true answers; their forms are not designed that way. In short, this turns out to be a double-edged sword, affecting both the sides.
So the key is to design your customer exit process in a way that you can discover the right reason for their account cancellation, in the most non-intrusive manner.
Number one, do away with open-ended questions, for in most cases, the users would simply skip the step (if it’s an optional field), or would type in some gibberish and get it over with (if it’s made mandatory).
This type of question generally won’t lead to great insights from your customer.
Instead, give them, in the cancellation screen, a list of specific reasons for cancellation, and towards the end, make it optional for the users to type out their feedback (we’ve had customers who were kind enough to give us a descriptive answer, but they make only a small percentage of the total respondents).
Here’s how Chargebee’s form looks (we got the inspiration from Freshdesk’s form, and made our own set of tweaks to fit our use case):
Number two, only include those reasons that are the most important for your team to learn about and act upon (because, the paradox of choice), and arrange them in the most effective order (start with the most crucial of the lot).
Using the captured data
From a bird’s eye view, the evaluation process will look something like this:
1. Are they a Stretch customer?
To answer this question, we evaluate the behavioral data of customers, in terms of pre-set yardsticks.
By keeping track of the most important engagement metrics (specific to the life-cycle stage of the customer), we’re able to clearly pinpoint those users who’d been receiving value from the product, before they chose to call it quits.
For Chargebee, these metrics would be completing the account setup, inviting other users from their organization on board, customizing the invoice, configuring the hosted pages, and the like.
A churned customer who passes these yardsticks will be deemed a Stretch customer, who’ll then be considered for the next question.
Another activity that has helped us is the classification of churned customers based on the acquisition channels (Organic, SEO, SEM, AdWords, Third-party review sites, etc). Segment the customers, and figure out the churn rate (both revenue churn and customer churn) for each segment. Note that analyzing the revenue churn as well as customer churn for each channel is important, especially if you have a freemium model.
In fact, this segmentation revealed that customers who were acquired from a particular channel (with low acquisition cost), and had an effortless onboarding process, were showing a higher churn rate than their counterparts. To top it off, we also found out that their servicing cost was also comparatively higher. In short, they belonged to the Bad Fit category.
2. Will rectifying their pain-point align with your product vision?
“In trying to please all, he had pleased none.”
Aesop, Aesop’s Fables
Listen to Aesop.
Des Traynor refers to a product’s vision as its guiding principle – the hub of the product wheel that holds every other activity. And the essence of that vision is the fundamental value that you want to offer to your customers.
Being a Yes-Man and developing features to achieve the short-term goal of retaining a single customer will only take you further away from long-term vision, eventually making your product bloatware (gasp!). The assumption that a single customer’s feature requirement perfectly matches with the needs of all the other users every single time, leads to stuffing your product with unnecessary functions and over complicating it. This, in other words, is known as feature creep.
In 1988, Seth Godin’s book packaging company let go of their biggest customer, who was making up for more than half of their revenue, and he doesn’t seem to regret it. He claims that the move made his team “happier and more successful”.
Is going the extra mile to please the Stretch customer worth the effort? Will solving their problem enhance the value that you’re delivering to your other customers as well? Is the particular solution aligned with your product vision?
Only, and only if you find yourself saying a “Yes” to these questions, should you take the plunge.
Spotting mistakes and preventing them from happening again
Once you’ve separated the Bad Fit customers from the Stretch counterparts, your next step will be to figure out how to prevent less of the former from onboarding and more of the latter from churning, in the future.
We’ve got three words for you: Root Cause Analysis
Andrew Tate gives a neat framework to trace every cancellation back to a root problem. According to him, based on the results from your exit survey, you can box your churned customers into one of these four reasons:
- Bought away – When the customer feels that your product is too expensive, or is not worth the price that you’re charging them.
- Moved away – When the customer pivots their business, and shifts to either a more stripped-down, or a more elaborate, enterprise-y solution, compared to yours.
- Pulled away – When the customer simply wants to switch to a competitor.
- Pushed away – When a member in the customer’s team vouches for another solution (intentional push), or when the customer feels that your service isn’t up to the mark (unintentional push).
Now let’s look at how each of these problems reveal the hidden mistake (and hence the solution):
1. Bought away
Your pricing is not aligned with the right buyer persona, and/or the value that it proposes to deliver.
Solution: Pick the right value metric to device your pricing strategy, and target the right buyer persona while marketing your product.
2. Moved away
Your target market does not include this particular buyer persona.
Solution: Expand your offering to include the new persona, if they fit your long-term objectives. If not, then just cut them loose.
3. Pulled away
The competitor’s offering is more attractive than yours – either because of their marketing or the presence of a feature missing in yours.
Solution: If it’s the former, work on a better positioning of your product in the market. If it’s the latter, go to the second question from the previous section (Will rectifying their pain-point align with your product vision?), and start from there.
4. Pushed away
There’s a lack/inadequacy of communication and customer support.
Solution: Double down on your customer support and customer success efforts.
Trials and errors form an integral part of the startup realm.
Businesses take a stab at bringing an idea to life, and take the help of other B2B businesses to build and grow theirs, some of whom they find to be a perfect fit with their business, while others they don’t. And as a fellow startup comrade, when we realize that the value we’re offering doesn’t match with the value that they’re seeking, we’re obliged to understand and respect their choice, and step aside.
The freemium model is of great help here, by providing the startups with ample leeway to experiment, without consuming much resource.
And it’s our job as a service provider to identify those businesses that have already crossed the initial phase of uncertainty, have built sufficient momentum and have acquired considerable value from us, and help them in advancing to the subsequent levels of growth.
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Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat: Top Influencers Pick Best Social Media Platform
From 2014-2015, social media marketing grew 55% to nearly $11B with ad spend projected to reach $14B by 2018. Just in 2016, $3.2B has been spent on Instagram alone. While Snapchat has led the way for social media mobile app messaging and product innovations (capturing the attention spans of an entire millennial demographic), Facebook-owned Instagram has been quick to mimic these innovations and offer their own unique functionalities thus differentiating the two platforms (e.g. ability to tag users in Instagram Stories).
As brands and advertisers are continually seeking to evaluate the best social media platform, we surveyed a few of the platforms’ top content creators, popular Instagrammers and Snapchatters (also generally termed as social media influencers) for their insight and take on which is best between Instagram vs. Snapchat. In addition to having intimate working knowledge of both platforms, many of these top Instagrammers and Snapchat influencers have experienced rapid growth and engagement on each making for a percipient head-to-head comparison.
What Top Social Media Influencers Think Of Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat
We spoke with the following social media influencers to better assess and understand how Instagram and Snapchat stack up against one another in terms of growth, engagement, social following, views, and more:
- Merrick’s Art—Instagram, Snapchat @merricksart, Facebook, blog
- Hapa Time—Instagram, Snapchat @hapatimee, blog (read our influencer spotlight interview Hapa Time here)
- Glam Life Guru—Instagram, Snapchat @tatiwestbrook, Facebook
- Alex Lange—Instagram, Snapchat @alexmlange, Facebook
Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat: Which One Wins If You Must Pick One?
Merrick’s Art: I personally like Snapchat better. I was on it for almost a year before Instagram Stories was introduced, so it feels a little more comfortable. Maybe it’s the filters?? 😉
Hapa Time: Business-wise, definitely Instagram. Since the images last longer than 24 hours they are more likely to go viral which is always good 🙂 Also it is easier to get recognized by brands and to be discovered, since there is no current way to explore users on Snapchat.
Glam Life Guru: Snapchat—more fun, more engagement—it’s basically my daily vlog.
Alex Lange: If only one of them existed, I would definitely use Snapchat. I feel like Snapchat gives more opportunities for influencers to make creative, fun, and original content. The interface is MUCH more user-friendly, and the additions of gorgeous color filters and a coloring pen are definitely a must-use. The Snapchat Geofilters and face-filters also give it more of an edge over Instagram Stories.
Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories: Which One Is Growing Faster For Top Influencers?
Merrick’s Art: Instagram.
Hapa Time: Instagram since I hardly post on Snapchat anymore, thanks to Instagram Stories!
Glam Life Guru: Snapchat.
Alex Lange: Instagram is growing slightly faster, since it’s newer, but Snapchat grows fast and at a steady rate.
For Top Instagrammers & Snapchatters, Which Platform Sees The Most Engagement?
Merrick’s Art: Instagram, for the most part.
Hapa Time: Instagram! I’ve been on Instagram longer and am better at curating content than being spontaneous though that is something I’m working on improving 🙂
Glam Life Guru: Snapchat.
Alex Lange: I see more engagement on my Snapchat posts, since I think the people who add you on Snapchat are the more dedicated, interested fans since they have to actually add you as a friend, whereas Instagram Stories is available to all your followers.
Which Platform Has More Followers? Instagram vs. Snapchat
Merrick’s Art: Instagram.
Hapa Time: It is larger on Instagram 🙂
Glam Life Guru: Instagram is still larger with the number of followers, but Snapchat kills it on daily engagement.
Alex Lange: I get more views on Instagram Stories, with an average of 170K views compared to Snapchat’s 140K.
Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat: The Verdict & Takeaway
Based on this survey, Instagram seems to be the preference and winner decided by top influencers for growth rate and sheer number of followers. Engagement (likes, comments, shares, views) was the only area where influencers were evenly split on which platform was best. For a deeper look into how top Instagram influencer engagement compares with the best brands on Instagram, view our case study here.
While Instagram may have bested Snapchat in this round, all is not lost for the disappearing messaging app and camera company. When polled on which platform they’d choose over the other, Snapchat was the winner. This result bodes well for Snapchat as influencer affinities can be quite critical to the overall success (e.g. Facebook Video & Live) or demise (e.g. Vine) of social media platforms.
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Much more than just a buzzword, disruptive marketing is changing the way we react to, understand and accept companies and their advertising. From a business standpoint, disruptive marketing represents a key shift in an era where promotional strategies update as fast as the technology that carries them.
From a consumer standpoint however, all of this change can lead to uncertainty and confusion. Here’s how some of today’s top companies are changing the marketing space through disruption – and what you can learn from them.
What is Disruptive Marketing?
“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there.” – Richard Branson
Disruptive marketing is taking all the marketing rules you’ve heard and practiced faithfully – and stomping on them. It’s never settling for the way things are, but rather turning “the way it’s done” on its head. Disruptive marketing shakes things up by changing customer perceptions about not just the company – but the industry as a whole.
And here’s the important part. Because they’ve changed our perception entirely, we come to associate new, better and more positive feelings with the company and brand that started it.
Want an example?
Ask anyone around in the technological boom of the late 1990s if you should have bought an Apple computer back then.
After they finish laughing, they’ll likely explain to you that Apple products were regarded as bland, overpriced garbage.
Not only were they overpriced but most of what they came up with were rehashed clones of products that were superior in terms of processing power, features, price and available software. Apple’s stock tanked, if you can believe it, to a low of $4 per share.
Today, agree with it or not, Apple is synonymous with sleek, sophisticated, forward-looking products. People wait for hours, even days, in line to score the latest iPhones. What brought about such a shift? The design of an MP3 player in an age when most people were touting Discmans as the ultimate in portable music. And the innovation just kept growing from there.
That’s the kind of effect that disruptive marketing can have on not just a brand, but an entire industry and the way we perceive it. But not everyone can pull off a disruptive marketing campaign. No matter what industry you’re in, all of these types of campaigns have a few selective traits in common.
Key Traits All Disruptive Marketing Initiatives Have in Common
So what exactly makes a disruptive campaign…disruptive? Disruptive brands don’t just push the envelope, they crumple it up and throw it in the trash. They’re not afraid to be daring and break the status quo. But for all the buzz they generate, they also need to be able to ride the peaks and valleys successfully, as not everyone will be accepting of their challenge to a traditional mindset.
Here’s another great example, from the Singapore Red Cross. How many times have you been told in your life that you should donate blood? Probably many times. You know it can save lives and yet very few people take the time to do it – particularly healthy, young people. The Singapore Red Cross decided to change that with an ad that capitalized on young people’s love of selfies and celebrities by doing an ad called “Blood Ties”.
Music. Blogging. Comedy. All things that attract the younger generation. Forget the preachy “you need to give blood!” demands – this kind of ad speaks to them exactly in a way that resonates. It’s a win-win.
Why Customers Love Disruptive Marketing
Most customers love disruptive marketing because it changes the face of how we perceive advertising. If done well enough, it even becomes a part of our vocabulary. When was the last time you called a cab? When was the last time you called an Uber? There are even more reasons that customers respond so well to disruptive marketing. Namely:
Disruptive marketing often tells a story in a way that consumers can understand. In one example from Spain that went viral around the world, an ad against child abuse showed an image of a child with the caption “sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering from it.”
Most adults got the message, but its true impact was understood only by children. Using lenticular technology, when viewed from a certain height, the ad’s message changed entirely:
From a child’s height, the message showed the boy with bruises and cuts indicative of abuse, and the ad read “if someone hurts you, call us and we’ll help you.” The ad was meant to speak to victims of abuse even – and especially –when they’re out with their abuser.
Disruptive marketing doesn’t have to break the bank in order to be effective. It just has to change how things are done – even a little. Case in point: Air fresheners. You probably don’t give much thought to buying them. You just want something that smells good, right?
But what if you could do more than that? What if you could create an entire mood just by the scent that best describes your décor? Airwick created such a quiz-style design with its Scent Decorator:
By clicking just a few images, you get a better idea of the feeling you want to create in your room, along with recommended air fresheners to complement it. Not bad for a can of smelly air, is it? This kind of process takes an ordinary, inexpensive thing and transforms it into something more – and that’s the kind of disruption that customers can feel comfortable with.
It’s Often Imitated, Never Duplicated
One of the best reasons customers (and businesses) respond so favorably to disruptive marketing – especially after the initial shock wears off, is because it can’t easily be duplicated. There’s only one Airbnb. Only one Red Bull. Only one Apple. Companies who try similar tactics to position their brand in a related way will be ignored in favor of the first to have done it. And when you have that kind of a lead on the competition, it makes sense to do everything you can to stay one step ahead.
It Hits a Common Touchpoint
Disruptive marketing is that loud and sometimes obnoxious friend that says what we’re all secretly thinking. The Dollar Shave Club turned subscription-based marketing into a huge trend by offering razors for $1 a month. But the reason they found such success wasn’t because of their pricing – it was because their founders came together over a common complaint: They were tired of expensive razors with ironclad packaging and countless “technological features” like flashlights, ionized organic coatings and salad slicers built into the handle, and still the same painful, bumpy shave.
It remains to be seen if Dollar Shave Club can keep up the disruption that their viral videos were famous for – especially after being bought for a BILLION dollars by personal care and shaving giant Unilever.
Now It’s Your Turn…
What are your thoughts on disruptive marketing? Have you seen a particular ad campaign that really changed the way you perceived a particular brand or industry? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!
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Snapchat Spectacles First Look Video: Product Demonstration, What’s Included, Review, How-To & More
Snapchat Spectacles, the first of Snap Inc.‘s hardware products, debuted in November just in time for the 2016 holiday season. While the company forever characterized by its disappearing photo messaging app may have a few surprises for its remaining Spectacles rollout, for now, the video recording sunglasses are to be purchased only through also-disappearing vending machines “Snapbots” at select locations.
As Spectacles remains on somewhat a limited release (Snapbots vend roughly about 200 pairs before requiring a restock), we’ve created a short Snapchat Spectacles video (see below) highlighting product demonstrations, key features and functionalities, and what’s included. For more detailed information on Snapchat Spectacles including where to purchase, how to use, and more, please visit our Snapchat Spectacles: A Visual Guide To 2016’s Hottest Tech Product [Infographic].
Snapchat Spectacles Product Demonstration Video
Snapchat Spectacles feature a few key innovations namely a 115-degree circular video format, one-touch hands-free recording, autonomous video content sync (within user’s Snapchat app), and a patented charging case.
Content filmed with Spectacles will be available for viewing in Snapchat’s new video format which is designed to replicate a person’s normal field of view (FOV, roughly 115-degrees). The new circular video format allows the viewer to rotate and manipulate viewing angles captured by Spectacles for an entirely new viewing experience. The new content format can only be had from within the Snapchat mobile app (videos downloaded from each user’s Snapchat are saved in normal viewing formats).
To record, users simply tap the record button (located at the top left hinge of each Spectacles) for 10-seconds worth of video. To extend this initial 10-second bout, users can tap a second time within the first 10-seconds (or “Snap“) to extend total video record time to 20 seconds. A third tap in the same manner ultimately extends the video to 30 seconds, the max time possible for a Spectacles video record. While users still need a free hand to initiate the video record (vs. voice activation—Snapchat Spectacles 2.0?), once started, users can easily record their vantage point while keeping both hands free.
Once recorded, videos automatically upload to the synced Spectacles user’s Snapchat (they appear within the Memories section). To see how to view Snapchat Spectacles videos in HD and how to edit, favorite, title, and more, see our how-to video below:
What’s Included With Snapchat Spectacles?
Each Snapchat Spectacles purchase comes with the following:
- Charging Case
- USB Charging Cable
- Ghost-shaped Cleaning Cloth
For more information, see Snapchat Spectacles’ FAQ here: https://support.spectacles.com/en-US
Snapchat Spectacles Review, Insights, What Lies Ahead
As Snap Inc. gears up for its IPO (possibly as early as March 2017), expect the camera company to roll out with additional software features for both its first hardware product Spectacles and new revenue drivers in existing Snapchat video content and perhaps through its messaging functionality.
Related Post: How Does Snapchat Make Money? [Advertising Rate Card]
By many early accounts, Spectacles represents yet another successful attempt by Snap Inc. to alter how media is both created and consumed by millions of millennials. Snapchat’s signature impermanent content paved the road for many existing social media platforms to create their own vanishing media (see our infographic on Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories). With Spectacles, Snap Inc. has set new standards for video social sharing and pioneered a completely new media format.
Similar to how GoPro’s wide-angle video format is now familiar/expected, Spectacles’ circular video may one day soon become a popular and/or standard type of video format. Unlike GoPro though, Snap Inc. has baked in efficient social sharing through its 150M user base which for now gives the company a notable advantage.
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