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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

Top Marketing Trends For 2019

When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?

Emma Donovan

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Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or  influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.

The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:

1. Say hello to the social CEO

Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.

Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.

Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.

2. Initiate conversations

While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.

For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.

Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.

Related: Pay Per Click Advertising. When, How And For What?

3. Keep it local

Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.

Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit. 

4. Try Instagram ads

As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.

Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.

5. Personalise email communication

Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.

Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.

Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

6. Post in real time

In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.

In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.

This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.

Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.

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Marketing Tactics

4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From

Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.

Jonathan Long

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Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.

Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Marketing Tactics

The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial

The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.

Kyle Rolfe

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The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.

In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.

The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:

  1. What products do they want?
  2. Where should you make them available?
  3. How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
  4. How and where to promote your product?

The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.


Airbnb example

Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.

Related: How To Make (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb


1. Product

Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.

2. Price

While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.

Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.

3. Promotion

In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,

“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.

Related: How To Drive Customer Referrals (When You Aren’t Airbnb, Dropbox or Uber)

4. Place

Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.

In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline

“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),”  adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.

“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”

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