It's Time for Cross-Channel Campaigns

Tuesday, November 07, 2017 Listrak 0 Comments


The holiday season is upon us. Many retailers have already started to ramp up their email deployment schedules, which is a key tactic to making your Q4 revenue goals. However, it's important to remember that just sending more emails alone isn't a strategy - you need to consider when and what to send - and which channel to deliver it to.

We looked at the email sending patterns and online traffic for over 1,000 retailers during the 2016 holiday season, and we put together an infographic that shows you the best time to send multiple messages on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

But first, it's important to understand how additional email sends impact revenue. We found that adding just four emails per month will greatly impact sales. With a low CPM and high return, our clients are seeing $59.26 for every dollar spent on average, an 18.5% increase over the $50.00 return they average on their regularly scheduled campaigns.


Holiday Deployment Schedules
On Thanksgiving 2016, email volume spiked at 10:00 am and then drastically dropped off until 4:00 pm. There was a small bump in evening email volume. However, when compared to site traffic, which remained strong from noon through 10:00 pm, you can see that shoppers would have benefitted from receiving an additional email after dinner when they're online.

Tip: Send at least two email messages on Thanksgiving - one in the morning and one in the evening. While many retail stores will remain closed on Thanksgiving this year, consumers will still shop online and eCommerce revenue is expected to increase over 2016.


The numbers for both email and site traffic looked similar to Thanksgiving on Black Friday, but with morning email volume spiking at 9:00 and steadily dropping throughout the day. But, again, site traffic peaks early afternoon and remains high throughout the afternoon and evening.

Tip: Send at least three email messages - one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening to ensure you are at the top of the inbox.



Cyber Monday 2016, as expected, had email volume spike at 8:00 am and 11:00 am, and again at 8:00 pm while site traffic steadily increased from 7:00 am, spiking around 9:00 - 10:00 pm.

Tip: Don't be afraid to send three or more messages on Cyber Monday. Consider offering different deals throughout the day to keep messaging fresh.



Email Volume
The NRF found that 27% of consumers begin shopping for the holidays at the beginning of December, and with Cyber Monday falling in November this year, it's important to keep your campaigns going strong that whole week.

Tip: Create a deployment schedule that will keep customers engaged throughout Cyber Week. Monitor your site traffic and send during the traffic spikes.


Other things to know

  • The NRF projects holiday sales to increase 3.6% - 4.0% this year
  • There are 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, one more than 2016. Christmas falls on a Monday, meaning there are five full weekends in the holiday season
  • We are expecting email volume to increase as well. Email volume during the 2016 holiday season increased 38.5% over 2015, and we're expecting another double digit increase this year
  • Customers want messages that are personalized to their needs and experiences. Product recommendations onsite and in emails help customers make purchasing decisions and will increase engagement and sales. In 2016, 54% of shoppers utilized the personalized product recommendations they received from retailers, and we expect that number to increase this year.





Conclusion
Email volume is expected to rise this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean that every shopper will receive the same message. We expect marketers to send more sophisticated campaigns, including segmented messages, product recommendations, predictive content and more. We also expect to see more integrated campaigns as marketers implement SMS, display and social marketing into their holiday strategies. Are you ready? Talk to your Listrak Account Manager or contact us for more details.



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SMS State of the Industry Report

Friday, November 03, 2017 Listrak 0 Comments

With roughly 97% of Americans age 18-44 owning a smart phone, mobile marketing is now viewed as a significant solution for businesses to reach their customers in the most direct way – on their personal devices. As brands continue to put major emphasis on creating great experiences across all touchpoints, marketers should take advantage of the time consumers spend on their mobile devices. According to comScore, the average American adult (18+) spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day.

Because so many people are using mobile devices, businesses that take advantage of SMS are finding it an effective way to drive conversions. With 75% of customers preferring offers delivered via SMS and a 97% read-rate, SMS is becoming one of the most compelling marketing channels out there. By adding SMS to your cross-channel digital marketing strategy, you can establish a direct connection between your brand and your customers, build customer loyalty and drive sales while creating a consistent and seamless experience.


Our Research
In order to find insights on the industry’s best practices, we monitored over 500 brands for four months to understand how SMS is being used to engage customers and drive sales – including online and offline promotion, short codes and keywords, text to join campaigns and number of SMS messages received per month. For each brand that incorporated an SMS promotion, we took note of its onsite acquisition point, its placement in the email, what keyword the brands chose, and if the short code was unique. We also went through every email we received to see if brands promoted SMS in welcome messages or ongoing marketing messages. After we searched each site and email, we turned to field research to look for in-store data. Our goal was to see if stores offered SMS online and not in-store or vice versa. With that, we combined our research with some industry statistics to give you a look at the current state of the SMS industry, expert tips and best-practices to guide you on the path to a successful SMS campaign. 

Here are some of our findings - be sure to download our SMS State of the Industry Infographic for even more details.

  


We also monitored industry stats to provide a full picture of the state of the industry:



                                      Download our SMS State of the Industry Infographic


If you're considering adding SMS to your digital marketing mix, here are some tips to keep in mind:


Create Urgency
In addition to its broader reach and the fact that it is the preferred communication channel for consumers, one of the most attractive things about SMS marketing is its immediacy. This makes it ideal for messages of urgent nature such as a “one-day only” sale, a flash sale, or any limited-time offer because it is one of the fastest ways to get in touch with your customers.

With 97% of your messages opened within three minutes of receipt, your objective should be to reach your subscriber just before they make a buying decision. Think about when your customers are likely to make decisions and try your best to get your messaging to them right then. By adding a sense of urgency to your SMS messages and timing them correctly, you can yield better results while encouraging your subscribers to respond right away or act faster.



Think Cross-Channel Acquisition
SMS bridges the gap between your online and offline worlds. And, with Listrak's platform, you can speak to your customers through other channels, such as email or social audiences, based on their SMS acquisition source to provide a highly personalized message.

In-store signage promoting SMS campaigns


According to industry stats, 2/3 of consumers shop in more than one channel, and consumers who do so are typically a brand’s most valuable customer as they have a 30% higher lifetime value, on average. With that, adding a mobile marketing solution to your digital marketing mix will give you a direct connection to your customers and a competitive edge. Plus, it works really well with your email campaigns, offering that extra touch to enhance engagement with your eCommerce-only shoppers. One study shows that integrating SMS into a campaign can increase email open rates by 20%. Moreover, when in-store shoppers subscribe to SMS, our clients are seeing 92% of  those SMS subscribers also opt in to email. In turn, 6% of SMS and email subscribers convert.

Following the SMS path to purchase can be challenging, but we can help you report on SMS conversions and revenue attribution within Listrak's SMS analytics dashboard.

In-store signage promoting SMS campaigns / SMS text-to-join email list

Combining SMS marketing with your email campaigns results in a powerful strategy for your business. The relationships that are developed with current and future customers are the foundation of your success online, and combining email and SMS begins the conversations that lead users to your sales funnel. Email and SMS create a personal line of communication that supports the needs of your customers and allows you to acquire new subscribers in their preferred channel. And, the fact that new subscribers contribute to a 3-6% increase in overall email channel revenue proves that SMS is the perfect complement to you email marketing campaign.


 
Email messages promoting SMS campaigns


Establish Exclusivity
Everyone wants to feel like they are part of an exclusive club, and you can make that happen with your SMS marketing campaigns. According to Vibes, 26% of people subscribe to SMS to receive exclusive content. Just like email, you can let potential SMS subscribers know that when they opt-in, they will get special alerts, sales, and deals that can’t be found anywhere else. By sending information that isn’t included in your email campaigns or print ads, you are creating an exclusivity to your promotion. Through this, you can reward your loyal customers by starting an insider SMS program with “first to know” content about big sales and new arrivals that they can only get if they subscribe to your SMS campaign.





You can also promote your mobile marketing program through your on-site popup - but follow best practices. Don't just ask shoppers to enter their mobile number as they aren't opting-in to the mobile messaging. Instead, share your keyword and short code and let them initiate the conversation.

 



SMS practices are an efficient way to reach today’s consumers and the most relevant way to engage with them, build brand trust, and acquire new subscribers. If you’re not already engaging with customers through SMS campaigns, it’s time to go mobile. For more information about SMS statistics, check out our infographic, or visit our SMS resource center.



Megan Ouellet
Director, Product Marketing

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6 SEO Essentials for Travel & Hospitality Industry

Saturday, October 28, 2017 Listrak 0 Comments


Consumers are increasingly taking a self-serve approach when it comes to making purchase decisions, and it’s no different in the travel and hospitality industry. In fact, nearly half of all travelers start their planning with a search engine.

So it’s no wonder that Travel SEO has become a buzzword of it’s own. Ensuring that your travel or hospitality website is setup to be more visible on the search engines can help to capture these consumers when they begin their research, and throughout the travel planning journey.

Travel SEO require continual monitoring and optimization to ensure you’re building visibility and authority for your website. But if you are just getting started, here are six essential areas that you should focus on. 


1. Destination Optimization

When people search for travel, they’re using the destination in their search query. They search for “flights to hawaii” not “flights from denver” or “Paris hotel deals” not simply “hotel deals.” This seems like a no-brainer statement, but it’s crucial to your entire SEO strategy. It affects everything from site structure and keyword selection to content development and link building. So it’s important that destination is at the heart of your SEO efforts, regardless of whether you have a single destination (i.e., a hotel, tourist attraction, restaurant, etc.) or are marketing for travel destinations around the world.

Here are the key places that you should be using destination optimization:
  • Select keywords for each destination
  • Create geo-targeted landing pages/site sections for each destination and optimize meta data (more on this later)
  • Create value-add content about the destinations (e.g., “Family-Friendly Things to do in Nashville,” “Top 10 Beaches in Bali” or “3 Days in Mexico City? Here’s What You MUST Do”)
  • Optimize local and social profiles (more on this later, too)

When researching and selecting destination keywords, don’t simply focus on popular terms like “Vancouver hotel.” These shorter phrases only account for about 30% of all searches, and are extremely competitive. Consider the “long tail” keywords that present a better opportunity for ranking, and continually look for new keyword opportunities based on online behaviors, news, culture trends, language trends and seasonality.


Creating blogs focused on long-tail search queries creates new ranking opportunities while reducing competition.



2. Clean, Well-Organized Site

A website’s architecture dictates the way search engine crawlers find their way through your site. The goal is to get users to the most important content in as few clicks as possible. Pages that are easiest to navigate to will typically be the pages that are crawled first, which are usually the URLs linked to from the header and footer.

The search engines use URL structure to understand content found in websites. When pages are found “under” other pages as a subdirectory, it becomes more clear what they are about and when they should rank.

This is especially important for localized sections of your website. If you’re marketing multiple travel destinations, create a section for each destination with sub-pages for additional information and ranking opportunities. For example, site structure could be:

www.travelsite.com/new-zealand
www.travelsite.com/new-zealand/hotels
www.travelsite.com/new-zealand/restaurants
www.travelsite.com/new-zealand/things-to-do

Additionally, be sure to create both an XML sitemap and an HTML sitemap. The XML sitemap allows search engines to crawl and index all pages on the site. This should be submitted to Google and Bing through their respective webmaster tools platforms.

The HTML site map is for human visitors not so much search engines; however, it does create internal links to each page on the site, which is useful for the search engines as well.

3. Meta Data Optimization

Page titles are one of the most important areas to optimize for keywords as they have a strong impact on organic visibility and are the first thing the searcher sees in organic results. You have limited space to work with in the page title tag (about 55-65 characters, or 512 pixels to be exact) so use it wisely. Include two to three relevant keywords and avoid using your brand name--the search engines are sophisticated enough to know your site should rank for your brand. If you must include your brand name, put it at the end.

A page’s meta description is important for organic click-throughs from search engine results. While it is not a ranking factor, it is a display factor, and it should be used on all indexable pages to capture searcher attention, explain page content, showcase a bit of brand flare and, ultimately, drive clicks. Meta descriptions should be no more than 156 characters.

Image alt text is another area where you can add keywords for increased relevancy, and for potential ranking on image searches.

4. Schema

In the not too distant past (yet nearly a lifetime in internet years!), when we talked about SEO, we were only concerned about the ten blue links that took up the bulk of the search engine results page (SERP). Today, however, the search landscape is much more complex and crowded. There are images, videos, answer boxes, knowledge panels, reviews, news articles, local panels, local “top sights” recipe cards, and even tweets. SEO software company Moz tracks nineteen major search features, yet there are other smaller features and Google is continually adding new ones and removing others.



Google’s Flights search feature.



 Google’s Top Sights search feature.


Google’s Hotel Cards search feature.

Many of these search features can be influenced by adding schema (a.k.a., rich snippets) to your website. Schema helps to better organize your site content for the search engines to “read” and index, and can result in more visible and variable placement in organic search, such as some of the features mentioned above. 

Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol is another form of schema used on the social networks. Similar to the search engines, Facebook and other social networks use Open Graph to organize your site’s content, and to create more robust posting on the social networks.

As a travel or hospitality brand, you should have the following schema implemented on your site at minimum:

Place/Local Markup

Review Markup

Organization Markup

Open Graph

Be as specific as possible with the type of schema values you use based on your business (e.g., you can choose hotel, resort, tourist attraction, golf course, ski resort, flight, etc.). Find more information on implementing schema and a full list of all types here.

5. Quality [Destination] Content

Search engine algorithms are extremely sophisticated. They can tell the difference between good quality and bad quality content based on length, word usage, reading level, in- vs. outbound links, frequency of posting and loads of other factors.

Developing high-quality content--content that will provide value to your audience, establish you as an authority, create opportunities for organic ranking on relevant terms, and pass the search engine’s sniff tests--takes skill, creativity, knowledge and, of course, time. You can’t rush quality.

Make sure that each page on your site has at least 75-100 words of text. This gives the search engines something to “read” and thus index, helps to avoid duplicate content issues, and provides more informational and compelling messages for human visitors.

As mentioned, creating geo-modified content for each destination creates ranking opportunities for these keywords. This content can be placed in separate destination sections on the site and/or can be used in a blog or resource section.

When coming up with topic ideas for blog content, a great place to start is your organic keyword data. Identify if any “question” keywords (e.g., “how to…,” “where...,” “what...,”) are driving impressions but have low positions and/or click through rates. Create original content to answer these questions and optimize the articles throughout for the keywords.

 


Create value-add, destination-focused content to increase visibility on and drive traffic from relevant keywords.


6. Link Building

Having a technically sound site with strategic, quality content merely sets the stage for the most important SEO factor there is: inbound links. A successful link building program today requires two things: 1. developing quality content that people will want to link to and 2. building relationships and contacts with sites that will be interested in linking to your content.

There are many different tactics to go about building links to a site. Following are some of the most common and successful methods for travel brands:

Local & Travel Directories - Submit business information on key local and travel sites, such as Google Maps, Yelp, Superpages, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Lonely Planet, Roadtrippers, etc. Take care to be consistent with the business name, address and phone number you submit.

Competitive Link Acquisition - By analyzing links your competitors already have, you can quickly identify immediate opportunities to acquire some of the same links.

Brand Ambassadors/ Influencers - Leveraging your super fans and people with large social followings can not only help to increase awareness and drive sales, but it can also result in links. Research relevant influencers (e.g., travel bloggers) and begin establishing relationships to determine how you can work together to obtain links. Consider offering free trips or travel credit in exchange for articles and/or reviews. Always take care to follow FCC guidelines when working with bloggers, which require a disclosure of the relationship and any exchange of goods or money.

Contests/Giveaways - Hosting a contest to win a trip or giving away a travel adventure can be a great way to not only increase awareness and collect email addresses, but it can also help obtain links, as bloggers and online publications frequently post announcements about these offers.

Trip giveaways and contests like this one can help to drive awareness, obtain email signups and generate links.

Ongoing Social Media Presence - Continuing to maintain active and engaging social media profiles will help generate traffic and build up brand recognition.

Travelers begin their planning journeys with search engines and use them throughout to book accommodations and find fun activities, making SEO an important part of any travel or hospitality brand’s digital marketing efforts. Starting with these six essential efforts, and continuing to monitor and optimize your site can help to drive traffic and increase bookings.


About the Author

Angie Pascale is a partner at Interstellar where she leads channel strategies, helping brand partners to increase visibility, engage customers and drive sales through search, social, email, paid and content initiatives.

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Convert Site Visitors into Buyers

Friday, October 06, 2017 Listrak 0 Comments

To say that the holiday season is a busy time of year is an understatement; and for 2017, eMarketer expects eCommerce sales to climb 15.8%. With this comes a dramatic increase in site traffic as holiday shoppers begin browsing your site to find the perfect gifts. However, while these shoppers are busy researching the best prices or products, they don’t always make it to the shopping cart - or more importantly - the conversion. This makes re-targeting a key tool during the holidays.

With a significant and growing number of retailers remarketing to cart abandoners and seeing great success, few are reaching back to the vast number of visitors who don’t get as far in the sales journey. By implementing a browse abandonment strategy, you will be able to re-engage these potential customers.

What is Browse Abandonment?


Browse Abandonment is a powerful behavior-based solution that connects you with customers that have shown interest by visiting your website and viewing product pages. With every visit, view, click and search, your shoppers are expressing various levels of purchase intent even before adding an item to the cart. By looking at this browse activity, you can send timely, relevant messages to site visitors that abandon without converting and remarket to them with campaigns designed to drive them back to your site. This influences shoppers’ purchase decisions and engages shoppers in personalized communications - guiding them down the path to purchase.



Connection Between Browse and Cart Abandonment
More Emails Sent, More Money Made

If you are already sending a shopping cart abandonment series, adding a browse abandonment series is not only quick and easy to implement, but is extremely beneficial. Just like a cart abandonment series, browse abandonment works better when you send more than one email. In these campaigns, shoppers are sent two or three – or more – messages designed to engage customers and take them back to the site.

Simply adding a browse abandonment campaign to your remarketing mix will give you a nice revenue boost:

The average conversion rates for browse abandonment and shopping cart abandonment campaigns – 7.8% and 20.7%, respectively.
Our research shows that significantly fewer browse abandonment emails feature percentage or dollars off promotions compared to cart abandonment messages (20% vs. 30%), making the profit on conversions from browse messages higher. 
In addition to being simple to implement for retailers who already have shopping cart abandonment solutions in place, our research shows that browse abandonment campaigns pay for themselves quickly. 
You can expect your cart abandonment campaigns to make up about 64% of the revenue from your remarketing campaigns and browse abandonment to make up 36% of the total remarketing revenue. 
Browse abandonment can bring in 8% of total email revenue while shopping cart abandonment accounts for 14% of total revenue.  
66% of conversions from cart abandonment campaigns are from new customers, and just about the same – 63% – from browse abandonment campaigns are also first-time buyers. 
Clearly the holiday season is a prime time for retailers to leverage increased site traffic to acquire new customers they can continue to engage with and convert with strategic, personalized marketing messages all year-long. 

 

Other Benefits of Browse Abandonment

Timely Messages - Setting the Right Cadence
Through automation, browse abandonment messages are automatically deployed at the right time. After years of research and testing, we found that cart recovery messages that are sent three hours after the abandonment have the highest probability of generating a conversion. Additional messages should be sent every 2-3 days. Browse Abandonment messages, on the other hand, should be sent a bit sooner. The first message should go out within two hours of the customer abandoning the site as there is a bigger chance that the customer is still online and is still contemplating the purchase. Similarly, each successive message should be sent closer to the online visit in order to recapture the interest and attention of the shopper.

Contextually Relevant Messages - Driving Awareness and Product Discovery
Browse abandonment campaigns give retailers the opportunity to reach back to recent site visitors with information that is timely, relevant and helpful in the shopping journey. Broadcast messages are great at driving awareness, but these triggered browse abandonment messages do much more than that. They allow you to build targeted, personal conversations that are based on consumer signals collected across multiple channels. These emails automatically populate campaigns with product and content recommendations based on each recipient's browse behavior and are deployed when engagement is at its highest to maximize conversions. With this, you can deliver email campaigns that are more relevant to customers earlier in the funnel, increasing the chance they will open, click-through and buy.

Personal Messages - Putting AI and Machine Learning to Good Use
If you’re looking to enhance your customer’s shopping experience, consider adding personal product recommendations or predictive content to your browse abandonment campaigns. Personalized product recommendations offer a number of benefits to both shoppers and retailers, including:
  • Increased product discovery
  • Increased loyalty and happy customers
  • Increased average order value
  • Increased items per order
  • Increased time on site
  • Increased revenue 

Including personal product recommendations based on the same category or sub-category or items related to the merchandise viewed will greatly increase the conversion rates of your browse abandonment messages.

We found that browse abandonment campaigns that do not contain personal product recommendations have an average ROI of 13.4x while those with recommendations have an ROI of 17.3x, a 29% increase.

Conclusion

With the 2017 holiday season fast approaching, retailers should consider implementing browse abandonment into their marketing strategy. With the use of browse abandonment emails, you can use data from your customers’ browse behavior to remind or recommend different products allowing you send timely, relevant and personalized messages designed to re-engage and convert.

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3 Types of Triggered Email Campaigns You Can Personalize with User- Generated Content

Friday, September 22, 2017 Listrak 0 Comments

Triggered email campaigns can help you reach potential customers at opportune times with relevant content. Furthermore, after the initial set up, triggered emails can save marketers a ton of time and work while maintaining high levels of customer attentiveness. While adding personalized visual content to even the most specific triggered email campaigns can greatly impact their effectiveness, until recently, it’s often been considered too tedious a task to undertake.

Today, we are excited to announce a strategic partnership between Pixlee and Listrak, which will allow our joint customers to easily display curated user-generated content visuals in their triggered email campaigns, delivering a more customer-centric email experience.

This integration enhances the ability of marketers to publish relevant, real-time content that contextualizes products and optimizes the impact of their triggered emails by delivering higher click-through rates and increased top line revenue.

With Pixlee and Listrak’s partnership, marketers can feature real customer photos and videos in various types of triggered email campaigns, such as: 

Abandoned Cart Emails
Marketers project almost visceral reactions when talking about shopping cart abandonment. They are aware that it’s a big problem yet at the same time a lucrative opportunity. Approximately $4.6 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year and about 60% of that revenue is potentially recoverable [Business Insider].

Displaying product-specific customer photos and videos in abandoned cart emails can help to contextualize products for shoppers who are still in the early stages of the purchase funnel. It also adds a layer of social proof and peer validation to help shoppers, who may not be able to touch and feel a product as they would in a store, to make a purchase with confidence.
Browse Recovery Emails
While product page browsers may not have as high of intent to purchase as those who leave items in abandoned online carts, these browsers have still indicated some interest. By only emailing subscribers who have abandoned items in cart, marketers are missing the opportunity to re-engage with a huge percentage of other shoppers.

One way to display user-generated content in browse recovery emails is to highlight similar products to re-engage these browsers. It can help the browser to discover relevant products offered by your brand that peers are using and that he or she might be interested in.


Lifecycle Emails
Finally, lifecycle email campaigns (such as Welcome emails, Order Confirmation emails, or Shipping Confirmation emails) can play important roles in your customer loyalty and retention.

While the primary message of these emails is transactional, displaying user-generated content to upsell and cross-sell can help to personalize these email campaigns. Furthermore, incorporating shoppable photos and videos from real customers into lifecycle emails can also help you to highlight your greater brand story through email touchpoints.


Conclusion
Triggered emails are a powerful way to personalize brand messaging and to recover revenue. To improve your triggered email campaign engagement and increase click-through rate, consider your visual content. Does it contextualize your products in an authentic way? Does it help your subscriber to discover similar or complementary products? If the answer is no, consider using real customer photos and videos to enhance your email engagement and encourage website revisits.

For more information, please visit Pixlee.com

Miriam Tremelling
Content Marketing Lead at Pixlee


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Digital Marketing – Risks to Avoid

Thursday, September 07, 2017 Listrak 0 Comments

The new rules of digital marketing predicate the need to take risks. Brands must be innovative. They must move quickly. They must be the early adopters of new technology. They must be first.

While there are risks associated with that it’s far riskier to remain status quo. If you aren’t implementing new, more personalized ways to reach your audience, you can bet your competitors are.

When it’s time to upgrade to a new digital marketing platform there are many factors to consider. We’ve outlined several considerations below to help you mitigate the risks.

What’s the cost of “free”?
There are many low cost or even free digital marketing services available. But buyer beware – you get what you pay for. Going with the cheapest solution often ends up costing brands more as the hidden costs for integration, implementation, customer service and support add up quickly. More importantly, companies have to consider the downtime and lost revenue being caused when solutions aren’t implemented in a timely manner, when all acquisition touchpoints aren’t firing correctly, when third party software breaks or when they simply have a support question but can’t reach a representative in a timely manner.

Low cost providers typically focus on customer acquisition, not customer service. Low cost providers “innovate” by offering new solutions from third parties rather than developing the technology themselves, which is the only way to fully ensure integration is accurate and easy to implement and giving you a single point of contact. And because low cost providers solely focus on their – and their investor’s - bottom lines, they aren’t focused on the ROI of their customers. Performance and metrics are secondary.

Free or low cost solutions come with a huge risk that rarely pays off as they end up costing much, much more in the long run – in the form of hidden fees, poor integration and service, and lost business.

At Listrak, our clients average $50 of ROI for every dollar spent. That’s 16.3 percent higher than industry averages of $43 as reported by the DMA. Our guiding philosophy and hallmark of our business is “customers come first in all we do”. We develop technology and many of the best practices in our industry in order to help our clients drive customer acquisition, retention and loyalty, resulting in higher revenue and customer lifetime value. Our client services team earned a world-class Net Promoter Score of 80, which is 60% higher than Disney’s score of 50. According to Net Promoter Score, any score above 50 is excellent while 70 or above is deemed world-class. A score of 80 is unparalleled in our industry.



Acquisition is risky business
It is rare for a technology company to grow organically without taking outside funds from venture capitalist firms or other investors. Similarly, many companies look at acquisition as a model for growth and innovation. Listrak is one of the exceptions. 

From Business Insider, “And yet history shows that, in at least half of all cases, after the deal closes, acquisitions sour. (There are dozens of studies and papers, and estimates of how many M&A deals fail to meet financial expectations run from 50 percent to as high as 90 percent.) The good news is that entrepreneurs, option-holders and investors cash out, but the bad news is that the employees find themselves in an oxygen-starved bureaucracy and customers end up confused or even orphaned.” 

Whether you’re looking for a new service provider or even if you’ve worked with a company for several years, you must remain aware of mergers and acquisitions in the industry in order to protect your organization. Remember – many times the customers of acquired companies end up confused or even orphaned. They’re left behind – shuffled among account representatives who may or may not understand the customer’s business or even know the new technology or corporate culture they are now a part of.

Customers of acquired companies end up confused or even orphaned, dealing with new account representatives who may or may not understand the customer’s business or even know the new technology or corporate culture they are now a part of. Working with organizations that are going through an acquisition – especially if it isn’t the first time – isn’t a risk you can’t afford to take.

The success of your business is paramount to our success here at Listrak, which is why we consider all clients a partner. Our client services, strategy services, technical project managers, learning and development, creative services, deliverability, support and other teams mean you have 350+ people on your side whose main purpose is ensuring your digital marketing solutions are optimized to maximize returns. We answer to our customers, not outside investors or shareholders or even to a parent company that focuses on goals that aren’t aligned with our core values and objectives.

What risks do pay off?
In the immortal words of Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals – “no risk it no biscuit”. While you definitely don’t want to choose a risky organization to work with, there are some risks you’ll want to consider with your digital marketing solutions that will pay off big time.
  • Implementing new technology – Being the first to test new solutions puts you ahead of your competitors. Whether you’re implementing AI technology that can analyze customer data to predict what action they’ll take next or testing SMS to see if your audience responds to messaging in a new channel, don’t wait to see how other businesses do. Test the technology yourself. Being the first to market provides invaluable opportunities to engage consumers in exciting new ways. 
  • Testing new campaigns – Be the trendsetter. Take the “next practices” and find out how to make them your industry’s best practices. Even small and simple enhancements, like adding a third or fourth message to a cart abandonment series, can lead to big returns. Listrak’s resource center is full of strategies and tactics that are easy to implement. 
  • Segmenting audiences in new ways – If you are still just segmenting on simple preferences – or worse, not segmenting at all – it’s time to use your data more effectively. Try sending offers only to former customers who haven’t purchased in over 90 days to win them back. Or send back in stock or price drop alerts to people who browsed those particular product pages but didn’t buy anything. These messages are highly targeted and can even be automated. They’ll outperform many of your other campaigns. 

Was there a time you took a big risk with your digital marketing initiative that paid off? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section.



Megan Ouellet
Director, Content Marketing

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How to Communicate Effectively with Your Email Designers

Friday, August 25, 2017 Listrak 0 Comments

One of the biggest hurdles of working with others on a project is getting another person to understand your vision. Sure, it’s an exciting 4K cinematic glory playing in your head. You hear angels singing as a magnificent work of art is revealed in your mind (and yes, smoke machines are probably involved). But now, you need to make someone else see, understand, and create that dream in a concrete marketing piece. You need them to take photographs, fonts, and shapes into the amorphous abyss of computer design software to ultimately create what you envisioned.

To get to that final marketing piece, there is a lot of information filtering back and forth between those working on the project. A strong communication flow between team members will increase the quality and effectiveness of your email marketing to meet your goals.

So…how do you do it?

It seems like such an easy concept: an exchange of ideas from one person to another. But to explain something as nebulous as an idea is difficult. Buzz phrases like “think outside of the box” and “make it pop” don’t express the tiny details of what you truly want.

Through the years, I’ve picked up some helpful tips to make the communication on a project go a bit smoother.

Have a conversation

Before a design is even started, everyone should already be on the same page about what is expected. A design vision is multi-faceted, so trying to describe it with a two-sentence email or text message won’t get the full idea across. Instead, there should be a two-way, detailed conversation between both parties. This could be done through Slack, email, a phone call, or even face-to-face. During this time, nail down the specifics: Are there certain colors to use? Is a specific image or font needed? Do you have similar examples to reference?

Remember you are on the same team

When communicating about something as personal as a creative vision, the process can quickly turn sour if one or both sides of the conversation become defensive, argumentative, or unresponsive. If there is a difference of opinion, try to calmly come to terms. Each person should lay out their opinions and knowledge so the full picture can be seen. With the restrictions of email inboxes, some aesthetics aren’t possible. Other ideas might not be on-brand. Perhaps an idea is against your best practices. Working through these issues can be frustrating, but butting heads will just make the situation more stressful and emotional.

Provide assets and examples

It’s not a secret that designers are visual people. If you have an idea of what you want your final product to look like, send the designer specific examples or even try sketching it out for them! If nothing else, a simple grouping of rectangles can help give the designer a visual structure to start with.

This is a page from one of my notebooks on variations of an email design. They aren’t pretty. They aren’t fancy. But they tell a clear story of where the designs should go.


In addition to examples, remember to supply all the photos and graphics you want to be used in the design. Not sure what image you want? Supply a range of options or a robust image library to the designer and give an explanation of what type of images to use. Do you want images of the products? Do you want happy people? Would you like to see a natural landscape? Any direction is useful. Believe it or not, one of the hardest things to design is “Do whatever you want.” Without guidance, a designer may find a magical rabbit hole far away from the intended vision.

Advice for designers

One of my favorite quotes from a college professor is that “Artists create for themselves. Designers create for others.” While designers have that creative juice (or maybe it’s just coffee) running through their veins, each piece created is then left to the scrutiny of others: your boss, your coworkers, your customers, other designers. You’re likely proud of your creation. However, it also needs to be approved by all parties involved in the process. Their opinions matter too! And it doesn’t stop there. It also needs to perform. You need a measurable return.

And sometimes that can get painful. Sometimes your masterpiece is torn to shreds. As creatives, we get emotionally attached to our creations. Having someone change your creation is painful. The initial reaction can be anger or sadness. You may not be able to control that emotional response, but you can control how you deal with the situation.
  • Take a few minutes to calm down. A heated response will only make the situation worse for all parties involved. Go to the bathroom, grab a cup of coffee, or step outside and take a big, deep breath. Just a few minutes removed from the moment can make a world of difference. 
  • Start a dialogue to find out the reasons behind the change. There may be a legitimate reason – for example, following branding guidelines. Some requested changes might not be possible due to functionality or SPAM regulations, and that might need a discussion to explain. By creating a conversation, you open both parties to seeing the full picture and reduce confusion. 
  • Find your happy place. We all have something we love so much that we can’t help but smile at. I love my family. It’s a little unconventional: a husband and cats. But it’s mine. And those cats: they’re cute and fluffy. They have little lawn mower engines inside of them that turn on when you cuddle. As much as I wish I could have one plopped in my lap all day at work, I make do with about 3 million pics of them on my phone (and a few hung around my desk for good measure). In the heat of the moment, when I have more work than I can imagine getting done in a single day and I’m stressed beyond belief: I stop for just a moment and look at a little furball.
Seriously, who could be upset looking at this picture of Wedge?


Ultimately, to have the most effective communication during the creative process, you need to listen and remain open to each other’s ideas and needs. As long as you work together instead of against each other, you will create amazing things.

What communication methods do you use with your designers? Do you have any advice yourself? Let us know in the comments!



Melissa Lobach
Graphic Designer

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5 Ways You Can Leverage Social Media in Your Email Marketing

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 Listrak 0 Comments


Social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s time to start using it to your advantage by aligning your social media and email marketing! It’s definitely worthwhile: by spending a few hours promoting their company on social media every week, 91% of marketers claimed these efforts greatly increased their exposure. That exposure could lead to more website traffic, better SEO, and improved conversion rates. Sign us up!

Social media has become a part of our daily lives. 76% of Facebook users log in to their accounts every day. This is the reason why two million businessesare using Facebook as a marketing channel.

On the other hand, Instagram earns $595 million in mobile ad revenue per year, with 51% of users saying they check the platform daily (and 35% saying they check it several times a day!).

And finally for Snapchat: over 400 million snaps are shared every day, and Snapchat ads are being viewed anywhere between 500,000 and 1 million times daily!

If your customers follow you on social media, you can continue to nurture that relationship outside the inbox. Establish a presence everyday news-feed prowl with reminders that you exist and are there for them. With “likes,” “retweets,” and more, your customers are further engaging with you and building a positive relationship with your brand.

Take a look at our 5 favorite social strategies to help you get started.

1: Encourage engagement with a hashtag

Instagram posts that use at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than those without. Crazy, right? So why not encourage that engagement with a brand-specific hashtag?

At the very moment that we’re writing this, #TeeFury has 61,373 posts on Instagram. If your brand has that many people wanting to share their nerdy t-shirts, you’d better utilize that! And they do – at the bottom of every marketing email, TeeFury encourages their readers to share their photos using #TeeFury. Below this headline, the brand showcases some user generated content and even links each picture to the featured tee. This is an awesome tactic to not only encourage engagement, but also a purchase!

 

Crate & Barrel does an excellent job using brand-specific hashtags as well. Users are encouraged to show “a little Insta love” using #CrateStyle. The resulting UGC aren’t photos staged in a state-of-the-art studio with perfect lighting and a professional photographer; the results are real people in real situations showing off their Crate & Barrel products. Not only does this show brand loyalty, but it’s also inspiring for potential customers to discover what they can do with their #CrateStyle!



2: Create an Instagram contest


People love contests, and they love winning them even more! A well-run contest can be a highly effective tactic to gain new followers.

Anthropologie utilizes this tactic well with their #SummerInASnap contest. Users can enter to win a $250 gift card – all they have to do is post a photo of themselves with an Anthropologie product and include the hashtags #SummerInASnap and #AnthroContest.

Easy, right? We think this simple strategy is totally worth it – after all, Instagram accounts that hold contests grow their followers 70% faster over three months than accounts that don’t. You’ll also love reining in those likes: Instagram contests get 3.5 times more likes and 64 times more comments on average than regular posts!



3. Call out what’s trending

For those busy readers, just call out the highlights! Using gorgeous large images and informational captions, BHLDN features what’s trending on their social pages in this example.

First, they showcase the most-liked pic on Instagram accompanied by the most-shared post on Facebook beneath it. By doing this, BHLDN is making sure their readers stay in-the-know on what their fellow shoppers are engaging with on social. You’ll notice this brand also shows off the top-pinned image on Pinterest. By doing this, they’re actually encouraging a purchase! A recent study showed that 93% of active pinners use Pinterest to plan for purchases, and 87% of pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest.

Here’s to pinning some gorgeous dresses to our “Dream Wedding” boards!




4: Encourage users to share exciting sales


It’s a no-brainer that you’d want to get sale exposure everywhere you can. This is where your readers come in! Here, Francesca’s advertises a huge sale in a broadcast email and then encourages their readers to share the exciting news.

The large 60% off sales offer really catches the reader’s eye; the purple in the offer also matches the color of the Twitter icon, leading your eye from one important element to the next. With the large call-to-action button, the brand makes it simple to click and spread the news!

If you’re thinking of doing this for your brand, make sure your tweet includes an image. Tweets with images receive 18% more click-throughs, 89% more likes, and 150% more retweets!




5: Don’t forget about Snapchat!


In this example, Old Navy does an excellent job of capturing attention with bold, bright colors and the use of the word “free.” They also made a custom Snapchat filter. How cool is that? This brand is trying to capture their reader’s attention with the free denim tattoos, but they also quickly drop the hint that they’re on Snapchat.

Snapchat is the second most powerful platform in the US (it has more users than Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!), so filters are a great marketing tool to garner more brand awareness. By using a branded Snapchat filter, you’ll get your logo seen by not only the person taking the Snapchat, but all of the user’s friends who view it! You can design your own filter online (or upload a design) for only $5.



Are you convinced yet? Let us know how you plan to incorporate social into your future messages!
And if you’re already doing this, way to go! Comment to tell us your favorite strategies.




Elsie Compton
Graphic Designer










Alicia Morrissey
Copywriter

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