Archive for November, 2011

Pull the Trigger

Triggered email pays eCommerce dividends.

Triggered Emails are a powerful tool you have at your disposal on CV3. And they are very high on the bang-for-your-buck scale. They increase your touches with key site visitors, at key times, and are relatively simple to set up.  Best of all, triggered email campaigns pay dividends indefinitely. If you are doing anything cool with triggered emails, I would be very interested to hear about it. Drop me a line – eric@commercev3.com

Abandoned Cart Emails and Request for Review Emails are a great place to start working on your triggered email strategy.

Abandoned cart emails are sent automatically to visitors who started the checkout process on your website, provided an email address, but never completed the order.  To understand the value of this technique think for a second about the conversion funnel on your website. If your site is like most eCommerce websites, the vast majority of visitors do not add a product to their cart. They come in, look around and leave.   Of those that do add a product, only a minority get to the point where they begin checkout. Of those that do begin checkout, you likely have a large minority that do not complete the process. This audience is THE MOST QUALIFIED LEAD SOURCE I can imagine. These are people who have come very close to ordering. Don’t let them get away!

The email you send can be timed, can include special incentives to completing the order and will prepopulate the abandoned cart info to make ordering easier.  This is free money, people! What are you waiting for?

Reviews matter. They give people unfamiliar with your brand a sense of trust about your company and your products and can help your natural search rankings by bringing fresh, keyword rich content to your site. An automated Request for a Review email message X days after an order can help you bring a stream of reviews to your website with little ongoing effort.  Simply configure an email to be sent asking the buyer to review your site and products. You may also consider holding off on the prompt until after the return period has expired (so your request doesn’t serve as a reminder to return) but sometimes sooner is better, depending on your business.

One of the keys for successful eCommerce is “working smarter, not harder”.  A robust, hosted solution like CommerceV3 is a step in the right direction.   On CV3, you don’t have to own the problem of hosting, web development, bug tracking, etc.   You can simply use the features of the system and focus on selling your products.

But as with all tools, you have to use them to get the benefit.

You can do this yourself by checking out the user documentation (or ask support to help you find it). Or if you are on the Growth Plan, talk to your coach about triggered emails. He can give you information on copy strategies and together you can make a plan. There are even email packages available where his team could do the work for you.

Thinking about a site refresh?

Read how long-time customer SERRV did just that- and the impressive results that followed!

We’re proud to announce the recent launch of the new shopping site for our long-time customer, SERRV, a $9.5 million fair trade network connecting thousands of artisans in developing countries with customers and volunteers across the United States.

A Timberline partner since 2005, SERRV has created a website to support and supplement their catalog sales of unique gift, home decor, clothing, jewelry and other items made by artisans and farmers in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe.  Serena Sato, Directory of Marketing at SERRV, says the process of working with Timberline and CommerceV3 to revamp their website was a pleasure from start to finish.

“I can’t say enough good things about Timberline and Deb Brisson [Timberline’s VP of Software Development],” Sato says.  “She’s done an amazing job, and our new site is a huge improvement over the old one.  Deb helped us problem solve, take advantage of opportunities, and even agreed to be on call when issues came up.  We could not have done it without her, for sure!”

The SERRV redesign features several improvements to the site, Sato says: “We now have more flexibility in how to categorize products.  For instance, we can use one, two or three tiers, which makes it much easier to navigate.  Also, CommerceV3 cross-sell options now allow us to use that field to focus on our artisan stories, which we’re really excited about.  Images are now nearly double the old size, which makes a huge difference in the look and feel.  The new redirects have also helped us a lot, as has the ability to do top and side navigation.  And we love the zoom, which highlights the hand-crafted quality of our products.  Though we’re a non-profit, it’s really important that our customers see us not just as a charity site, but as a purveyor of high-quality products.  In so many ways, the capacity of the new site has helped us display our products and our story in a manageable, flattering format.”

Sato reports excellent results for the new SERRV site when comparing sales from October 2010 to October 2011, including a 22 percent increase in individual consumer order sizes; a 30 percent increase in individual consumer purchases; a jump to just under 50 percent of orders coming in via the new web site, a slight increase over 2010; and a 12 percent increase in wholesale store orders, with nearly 60 percent of those orders coming in via the new web site.

Deb Brisson adds, “Working with Serena and the rest of the SERRV team was fantastic.  They are all very smart, driven and focused on producing a high quality shopping experience.  Due to the complexity of their pricing and business rules, we spent a lot of time up front determining how to structure their data so that each of their different customer types would see the appropriate display, product and pricing information.  We did this by heavily utilizing the CommerceV3 customer group and promotion tools, a very robust strength of the platform.”

If you’re ready to take your online sales to the next level, find out how to get started with CommerceV3 or Timberline, please contact me, Sharon Rogers.

 

Google+ for Business

   With over 40 million users (and still growing), google+ most likely has some fans of your brand on it – fans that (up til now) you might only connect with on that other social network (which we trust you’re already doing with a facebook page for your business). That’s about to change though, as google+ pages for business opened for business yesterday and the google+ badge for businesses will start appearing across the web, spreading as did the now ubiquitous “Follow Us” facebook icons and the +1 sharing button

Wondering if google+ will be the next Buzz or Wave? All indicators are that google is playing for keeps on this one, and if one thing will make google+ stick, it will be widespread adoption by businesses. Google+ should have an edge on facebook pages (at least initially) in some respects, such as the ability to group your page’s followers into smaller Circles, and even chat with them in video Hangouts (up to 9 at a time). The most interesting long-term aspect of google+ pages will be the upcoming integration with google AdWords paid search. You may have already noticed that there’s an option in AdWords Display Ads to overlay a +1 button for people to like your ad, and the option to add a Social Extension to your campaigns. This latter will tally all the +1’s of your ad, your site, your page and your search results (clearly google has embraced “bigger is better” math here), and allow people to view all of the recommendations for your brand in aggregate.

To add another layer to it, google’s Direct Connect goes live today, rolling out on select websites. This feature lets people enter ‘+’ followed by the name of your page in Google search to get directly to your Google+ page: try it for one of the brands that  already have google+ pages: NY TimesABC NewsDell. Certainly easier than finding your favorite brand’s facebook page. We’re looking forward to integrating google+ badges with the full suite of social sharing buttons, and then kicking back and watching the show in analytics.

More Holiday Marketing Tips

Last week we talked about last minute holiday marketing tips. I received some good feedback and wanted to pass on a few extra ideas.

1) Don’t forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

I blushed when I read this email. It was an important omission. These two days help companies and customers kick off the holiday buying season early.   It certainly will vary by company and the brand relationship you have with your customers, but typically you have to be pretty aggressive to stand out on these days, e.g. 20% off or more. Perhaps you can try this to reactivate nonbuyers, nonclickers or other segments of your file while still “keeping your powder dry” for emailing your best customers other holiday offers later in the season.

  • Try subject lines that promote urgency: “Today Only… 20% Off All Blue Widgets”
  • Try to incentivize volume on items that might not normally be bought in volume “Buy 3, Get 2 Free”

2) Try a 12 Deals over 12 Days Promotion

Typically these are set up to feature one blow out item or premium on each day. Choose items that have high margin cross sells or which are lead in products to other products in your line.

3) Look Sideways for Best Practices

Study what other companies are doing for online promotion during the holidays. During the Holiday 2010 Season, Responsys tracked emails from more than 100 large retailers and published a report of holiday email trends. They cover the takeaways and outline some predictions on 2011 in this guide: Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season in 2011.

I found it be a value source of information and an excellent guide for brainstorming, but don’t forget – it’s a marketing piece for their very high end mailing solution. Not all of their “Best Practices” are appropriate for small and medium sized retailers.

One final takeaway:  Retailers have been pushing holiday marketing earlier and earlier in the season, i.e. “Black November” to start holiday promotions on November 1st.  So if you haven’t started your messaging plan in earnest, it’s high time you start.   We are in the 11th hour, but it’s not too late if you get going now. Giddyup! … and Happy Holidays.