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Marketing Tactics

5 Last-Minute Tips For Small Retailers To Boost Black Friday Sales

There’s still time to make sure your ecommerce site is optimised, your social campaigns are a success and your inventory is under control.

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The shop-till-you-drop season is upon us. While consumers are gearing up for long lines and cyber sales, small and mid-sized retailers are scrambling to prepare for the holiday rush. We get it – as a small business, you’re worried about having enough inventory, your ability to quickly fulfill orders and how you’re going to maximise sales during the busiest time of year.

Here are five tips to help you optimise your marketing efforts and streamline your operations for ultimate profitability this Black Friday and Cyber Monday – #BFCM!

1Get your ecommerce website on the nice list

Many businesses assume simply having a web presence is enough to attract and retain visitors, but most websites don’t automatically make it onto Santa’s nice list. Ecommerce websites need to be optimised for search, performance and usability in order to reach and engage online consumers.

Cyber Monday sales alone last year totalled $2.3 billion in the U.S., but if Google and other search engines don’t know your site exists, you’re missing out on your chunk of that market. And once people can find your site, you need to make sure you’re providing a great user experience to keep them there. According to Radware research, 57 percent of consumers will abandon a website that fails to load after three seconds.

Go through this quick checklist to ensure your web efforts aren’t getting lost in the white noise of the worldwide web:

  • Can Google and other search engines properly index and crawl your site?
  • Is your site targeting the proper keyword for your target audience?
  • Is your site optimised for mobile devices?
  • Is your site easy to navigate and search through?
  • Are you leveraging images to engage visitors?
  • Are your securing customer payment information?
  • Is your site integrated with social media platforms?

Related: 3 Holiday Retail Trends Entrepreneurs Need to Consider

2Remember: Social selling is everyone’s Secret Santa

Social media campaigns may seem like an obvious marketing suggestion, but these networks with millions of built-in, active audiences often go under-utilised by small and mid-sized business that don’t always have the time, resources and budget to support them. Yet, social media is increasingly used by consumers to research, discover and purchase products online – particularly during the holiday season.

Shopify reported ecommerce orders coming from social media in 2014 increased by 202 percent, and Vision Critical data revealed 40 percent of consumers made a purchase (either online or in-store) after favouriting a product on social media platforms.

The true beauty of social promotions is that you don’t need a budget to establish a presence and gain an audience – although a having a budget wouldn’t hurt. Here are some easy social activities you can do to start enjoying this gift that keeps on giving:

  • Determine the best social networks for your target audience
  • Develop branded accounts on your targeted social platforms
  • Regularly share your products and branded content (Pro Tip: Use relevant and timely hashtags like #BFCM)
  • Follow and engage users and fans
  • Try promoted posts
  • Experiment with Buy Button offers on sites like Pinterest and Twitter.

3Implement a centralised inventory management system to rival Santa’s Workshop

inventory-management-black-friday

In today’s connected world, retailers don’t only need to be on multiple social platforms, but also need multiple marketplaces. If you’re a small ecommerce retailer, you’re likely selling on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, as well as your own branded shopping cart sites on Shopify, WooCommerce, Bigcommerce, or Magento.

In fact, our Stitch Labs data shows businesses that use a single marketplace in addition to their branded shopping cart site make an average of 38 percent more revenue. And those leveraging two marketplaces see an average revenue increase of 120 percent.

While it certainly pays to utilise multi-channel selling, it can quickly become unmanageable from an inventory perspective. Who’s going to help you manage and track holiday orders across all your various sales channels? Not everyone has a workshop full of elves to help them.

No elves? No problem! With a centralised inventory management solution, you can sync all your sales channels into a single integrated system, automating order tracking so you can avoid overselling and delayed fulfillment. With your inventory management under control, you’ll have more time to focus on other business needs, like thinking up more winning marketing and sales strategies.

Related: 3 Ways Retailers Should Accommodate the Mobile-obsessed Customer

4Fulfillment that’s faster than a reindeer sleigh

Your ecommerce site is optimised, your social campaigns are a success and your inventory is under control – all leading to record holiday sales. But with increased sales, comes a spike in fulfillment demands. And no other time of year is shipping expediency a bigger customer demand. I’m looking at you, last-minute shoppers!

To keep up with crazy delivery demands, make sure your holiday fulfillment strategy includes:

  • Organised and well labeled storage facility
  • Ecommerce shipping partner like ShipStation or ShipEasy
  • Defined customer shipping price strategy (i.e. free shipping, flat rate, full charge)
  • Clear tracking and constant communication with your customer

5Customer service that brings Christmas cheer

While fast fulfillment is an important factor in ensuring great customer service, businesses need to create a positive overall shopping experience to truly win big with customers.

Holiday sales and promotions attract a greater number new customers, and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to convert one time shoppers into life-long customers. Cultivating and leveraging strong customer relationships is also an advantage smaller retailers can have over the larger, big-box stores.

Related: 6 Strategies for Marketing your Retail Business Online

Here are some tips to help you provide exceptional customer service this holiday season:

  • Develop consistent branding across online and in-store channels.
  • Provide an easy-to-navigate website.
  • Bundled product offers
  • Streamline the checkout process.
  • Communication order status
  • Facilitate fast shipping and fulfilment
  • Follow-up with emails for special offers and product recommendations
  • Offer rewards points and loyalty programmes.

With these last-minute strategies in place for the #BFCM weekend, your small or mid-sized retail business can boost sales, speed delivery and improve customer service so you have more time to eat, drink and be merry!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Brandon Levey holds a BSE and MSE in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan. While working on domestic nuclear security systems analyses at Sandia National Securities, he started two retail businesses on the side. Through his experiences in the design and manufacturing world, he identified many problems faced by small businesses, leading to the eventual launch of Stitch Labs.

Marketing Tactics

Useful Marketing Tactics For Growing Businesses

Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.

Jandre de Beer

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Digital marketing offers the business world so many advantages, including the ability to communicate with their target markets quickly and easily. Unfortunately, digital marketing has also opened doors for companies to flood mail boxes, news feeds and ad spaces with junk mail and spam resulting in customers tuning out to anything irrelevant and suspicious.

Customers have become less likely to trust companies and less receptive to messages. The only way for valuable messaging to stand out from the noise is if a business knows how to market itself properly.

Over and above advertising, there are a lot of other aspects that contribute towards an effective marketing strategy, these include research, email, content creation, list curation, social media and even customer service. To be a successful marketer it isn’t necessary to become an expert in every single marketing tactic, but it is important to master the most important areas. Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.

1. Customer acquisition

Of course, not all customers are the same. Some customers are only interested in buying products on sale from a particular brand and then never interact with that brand again. Acquiring, and of course retaining customers with a high lifetime value should be the overall objective for businesses, but this requires more time and money being invested in better, more qualified leads. While the upfront costs might be higher, in the long-term this investment will pay off with continued business from these lifetime customers.

2. Customer experience

Competitive pricing can’t be the only aspect that businesses focus on in order to stand out against competitors. In the current digital era customers expect a good customer experience when they deal with brands so this should be an important focus area for all businesses. Customers expect fast and seamless experiences such as intuitive user interfaces and processes, fast websites and service response times, as well as accurate information about the problems they face.

Customers don’t want to waste their time on websites that require them to jump through hoops, and they definitely don’t want to feel misled by anything a business is communicating. Customers will quickly move on to other sites that offer better experiences as well as other businesses that are more trustworthy. Good customer experiences can go a long way.

Offering more personalised, interactive engagement tactics and improving the customer technology interface should be high priorities for businesses.

3. Content marketing

Marketing is no longer about telling customers that your brand is the best. With the movement towards content marketing, marketing has become about showing customers why you are the best. Content marketing is a legitimate, effective strategy that every business and brand should make use of. While content marketing is a lot more cost effective than outbound marketing, it also generates three times as many leads and offers many other benefits.

Content is a key feature for growing businesses who want to survive in an information rich environment. Customers are looking for brands that provide value beyond their products so creating high-quality content can help you grab your audience’s attention.

In conclusion

Although there are many other factors that are involved in an effective marketing strategy, seeking out customers with a high lifetime value, providing them with a great customer experience while also providing them with valuable content is a recipe for success.

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Marketing Tactics

An ‘Outside-the-Box’ Approach to the e-Commerce Unboxing Experience

Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.

Daniella Shapiro

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With a predicted 24,79 million e-commerce users in South Africa by 2021, online shopping is here to stay, making it impossible to escape the predicament of perfecting the art of product packaging. It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to creating a meaningful unboxing experience. Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.

Recyclable/Re-Usable Packaging

Certain types of product packaging are having a tremendous negative impact on our environment, with 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris littering the world’s oceans, and with 269,000 tonnes of this amount floating on the surface – and plastic isn’t the only culprit. Did you know that it’s impossible for Styrofoam to ever be broken down completely? And that 1 million single-use coffee cups wind up in landfill every single minute of every day? These statistics make it obvious as to why it’s becoming so important for business owners to be more conscious about the type of packaging that they use.

Many business owners wonder if their customers really care whether their business is doing its part to protect the environment. According to Forbes and a 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study, the answer is a resounding ‘YES, they most certainly do!’.

87% of the consumers surveyed stated that they always have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues, and 88% claimed that they usually feel more loyal toward a company that they know supports social or environmental issues.

Thoughtful Thank-You Notes

The unboxing experience should be a unique and personal one, and it should be just as memorable as the experience of utilising the product itself! So, make it all the more special and build customer loyalty by including a personalised thank you note. Address the customer by their first name, thank them sincerely for their patronage and end off by giving them some helpful advice regarding the product, or share an interesting benefit of using it. Go the extra, extra mile by hand-writing the letter too.

Free Samples

Everyone loves getting free stuff. Why not bolster the unboxing experience by sending over a little bit more than expected? Not only will a free sample put a big smile on the face of the receiver, if they actually enjoy using it, there’s also a good chance that they’ll be coming back to order more. According to Shopify, free samples have the potential to boost sales by as much as 2,000%.

When it comes to packaging, make the right choice. Sustainable, thoughtful, memorable. Your customers, and the environment, will thank you for it.

 

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Marketing Tactics

The Facebook Ads Strategy That Can’t Lose

It’s a numbers game.

Entrepreneur

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Running a profitable Facebook Ads campaign is simple. Not always easy, but simple.

There is a formula that can guarantee a profitable Facebook Ad campaign. Once you know the formula and the values to plug in, you’ll never sink money into a losing digital ad campaign again. I know it sounds too good to be true, but stick with me…

The Guaranteed Growth Formula

Here’s the entire formula: CPA < AP

Were you expecting coefficients, remainders and dividing by polynomials? Nope, there are only two values that matter when assessing your digital marketing funnel.

1. CPA – Cost Per Acquisition

2. AP – Average Profit Per Client

If your Cost Per Acquisition, the amount you pay to generate a paying customer using Facebook Ads, is less than the Average Profit you make from each new customer you’re guaranteed a profitable campaign.

Calculating Average Profit

To get average profit per client, sum your total revenue from new clients and subtract what you spent to serve them. Divide the result by the total new clients. For example, if you made $75,000 from 10 new clients over the past year and it cost you $40,000 to serve them, your average profit is:

 ($75,000 – $40,000) / 10 = $3500 Average Profit Per Client

If your average acquisition cost for similar future clients is less than $3500, your campaign will technically be profitable.

Of course most businesses won’t want to spend all of their profit on acquisition. An average business can expect to invest at least 7 percent but no more than 15 percent of revenue in sales and marketing. If Cost of Goods accounts for 60 percent or more of total revenue, your low profit margin may make it difficult to afford successful advertising. Decrease operating costs by increasing efficiency or adjust your margin by raising prices.

Don’t make the mistake of calculating Average Profit based on revenue only from the first sale. Use at least six months of revenue or your lifetime client value as the basis for your calculation, or you risk underfunding your marketing and sales budget.

Related: Here Is Why Your Facebook Ad Campaigns Aren’t Producing Results

Calculating Cost Per Acquisition

Let’s assume you’ve considered all of your marketing and sales costs and determined you can spend $350 per new client on Facebook Ads. Let’s reverse engineer your ad campaign to see if a $350 cost of acquisition is reasonable.

The simplest Facebook ads funnel includes four metrics that build upon each other to determine your acquisition cost. I’ve included standard benchmarks for use as a starting point, but your results may differ:

1. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of people clicking on your ad. Your CTR should be near or above 1 percent.

2. Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost of one website visit. CPC should generally be below $3.

3. Lead Conversion Rate – The percentage of site traffic that becomes qualified leads. This value should be 20 percent or above.

4. Sales Conversion Rate – The percentage of leads that convert to a sale. Aim for sales conversion at or above 5 percent. (E-commerce companies often skip the Lead Conversion stage and have a Sales Conversion Rate of 1 percent or greater.)

If 10,000 people view your ad at a 1 percent CTR, you’ll get about 100 website visits. At a $3 CPC, you’ve spent $300. Since 20 percent of your traffic will become leads and 5 percent of those leads become closed sales, we can calculate that you’ll generate approximately 60 leads and three new customers.

Your estimated acquisition cost using Facebook Ads is $100 per client, which is well within your budget of $350. This cost may rise as you scale and target less optimal prospects, but as long as your acquisition cost is less than $350 you’ll make an acceptable profit.

Complex funnels can include several ads and conversion points, but the Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP still applies. There’s no immediate reason for concern if your metrics differ from the benchmarks. You can and should split test ideas for improvement if your numbers are far from what you expect, but don’t mess up a good thing until you’ve got a better one.

Optimising Your Guaranteed Growth Funnel

If unhealthy metrics cause your acquisition to cost more than what you’ve budgeted, start with these adjustments:

Click-Through Rate Too Low or Cost Per Click Too High

If your CTR falls far under 1 percent Facebook may stop showing your ads or show them to second-rate audiences causing your traffic to tank and CPC to increase. To improve your click metrics, adjust your ad copy (headline and body text), ad creative (image or video) and highlight the benefits in your offer.

Refine your audience. Tailor your copy, images and call-to-action to the audience you’ve selected and ensure that your audience has the desire and means to act.

Lead Conversion Too Low

If leads aren’t converting at 20 percent or more, either the promise made by your ad isn’t congruent with your landing page, or the process of moving forward is too difficult. Try using the same image and headline in your ad and reduce the form fields in sign-up forms to the bare minimum. Also try retargeting visitors who don’t sign up with ads stating the benefits of acting now, or with a different offer.

Related: Staying Relevant In The Facebook Age Of Meaningful Social Interactions

Sales Conversion Too Low

If you’re an Ecommerce brand with sales conversion below 1 percent your shopping cart or sales process may have too much friction. Simplify the sales process to decrease clutter, or increase trust by adding testimonials and trust signals near important calls to action.

Your sales process may need improvement, but that is beyond this article. In the meantime, you can still increase revenue by cross-selling and upselling those who convert. You may also improve client retention with recurring contracts. Yes, that’s why many software companies are switching to cloud-based subscription models.

When used properly, The Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP makes Facebook Ad marketing an investment, not an expense. Using the formula, the most you should ever risk is a small initial budget to test whether your estimated calculations hold true in practice.

If your net profit is 3X your acquisition cost, your funnel returns $3 for every $1 you invest. Instead of asking “How much should I spend on marketing?” The question becomes, “How much do I want to make?” I’ve built a Facebook Ad Growth Calculator that incorporates the Guaranteed Growth Formula to help execute your growth strategy. Input your revenue goal and it will estimate the Facebook Ad impressions and traffic required to reach it.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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