Black Friday 2016: How e-commerce retailers can maximise sales

Whilst customary in the US, Black Friday is newer to the UK market but is gaining momentum fast. This year it falls on Friday 25th November so there's still time to plan out an e-commerce strategy to compete for your slice of the £1bn spent (2015 Black Friday sales).

What does an effective Black Friday campaign look like?

We came across an article this week by tech experts Alphr guiding shoppers on how to get the best Black Friday deals. It gave us a great opportunity to turn the tables and feed their tips into our own guide on how online retailers can create a successful Black Friday campaign that meets the expectations of online shoppers.

1.       Customers will do their research

Alphr’s article advised customers to do their homework to find the best deals. Online retailers should promote and publicise their Black Friday deals in advance of the big day. You could use a combination of channels to advertise what products will be on offer and what the special deals are. Encourage customers to bookmark your site and come back when the offers are live.

2.       Decisions are made fast

Shoppers are aware that Black Friday deals don’t last long so make it easy for them to buy. Ensure all your deals are featured on one landing page to direct marketing traffic to and make sure some of your advertising includes deeplinks to product pages, so shoppers are just one click away from the checkout.

3.       Shoppers buy early

Many online retailers start running their deals in the week leading up to Black Friday so customers will be looking around – make sure you secure sales from early bird shoppers.

4.       Extra costs could lose you the sale

Shoppers will be expecting the absolute very best deals. Adding on extra costs like delivery and customs charges could mean customers head elsewhere. Make sure your advertised prices are final and promote free delivery if you’re offering it.

5.       Are they Christmas gifts?

Because of the proximity of Black Friday to Christmas, many Black Friday deals will be purchased as gifts. Be clear on your website about delivery timescales and product availability to manage customers’ expectations and avoid disappointment.

6.       Can you offer a voucher code?

Despite Black Friday being about very low prices, shoppers will also be hunting around for additional savings. Promoting a voucher code through affiliates and high-traffic sites like HotUKDeals could provide you with welcome additional traffic and sales. Even an extra 5% off is enough to entice shoppers if your margins and marketing budgets allow.

7.       Shout about secure payment methods

Lesser known e-commerce retailers and start-ups can increase their conversion rates by reassuring customers of their secure payment methods. Shoppers can be wary of entering their details into unknown websites, so if you offer PayPal this will encourage the sale and make it quicker for customers to check-out too.

8.       Offer VIP status

Sites like Amazon often provide exclusive discounts to members. Whether you only include your highest value customers or your entire email subscriber list, think about ways you can provide existing customers or email subscribers with extra value and incentives.

So there you have it, our very own round-up of how to secure those Black Friday sales on your e-commerce site.  

Underpinning our post is the need to understand and respond to customer behaviour and expectations and Alphr's article gives a great insight into what customers may be looking for when buying on one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.

Why not check out Alphr's full article: 12 tips to find the best Black Friday deals.


Remarketing vs. retargeting: what’s the difference?

Remarketing and retargeting - do you really know the difference between these two popular digital marketing activities?  

If you’re not crystal clear on the nuances of these strategies, how would you know when it’s appropriate to use one, the other or both?

On first hearing these similar-sounding terms, it’s all too easy to think of them as interchangeable.

It’s true that, in terms of objectives, retargeting and remarketing work hand-in-hand to increase conversions.

However, despite the inherent similarities, these two services set their sights on two very different groups of prospects.

Remarketing

Remarketing is aimed at the more motivated of your prospects. These are the people who have stepped into the buying funnel, browsed your site and even gone so far as to add a product to their shopping cart. Unfortunately, before they made the purchase, they disappeared, abandoning their cart and heading off to pastures new.

91% of industry experts think remarketing is an effective strategy
— Search Engine Journal Report 2016

Remarketing initiatives are designed to tempt those prospects back to the deal, usually through personalised email reminders offering further assistance or information to complete their purchase.

The purpose of remarketing is to find out what made your prospect abandon their cart and gently steer them back to your site. And if there was any doubt as to whether remarketing is a strategy worth investing in, the Search Engine Journal Report 2016 can soon remedy this with its revelation that 91% of industry experts think remarketing is an effective strategy. There’s no arguing with such an overwhelming majority.

Retargeting

In comparison, retargeting focuses its efforts on those who are less motivated, the prospects who are just moderately interested in your products. Sure, they might have paid your site a visit and had a browse at what’s on offer, but they haven’t made any solid moves to really show they are committed to a purchase.

Retargeting initiatives such as Google AdWords, allow you to track these prospects by tagging them with a cookie when they visit specific pages on your website and help to keep your brand at the forefront of their minds with adverts that appear whilst they are browsing other websites. The idea is that you can remind them of what made them visit your site in the first place and hopefully tempt them back when they are ready to buy.

You can also take this strategy one step further with dynamic behavioural targeting. This allows advertisers to personalise every ad impression by tracing the prospect’s behaviour to create a bespoke ad. Featuring personalised products or content relevant to the user, such as images of products and prices they have previously browsed, are much more likely to strike a chord and encourage click-through rates compared to static ads.

Whether small or large, there are a number of remarketing and retargeting platforms that can work for your business and help to increase conversions. And when you consider the fact that stats from AdRoll show only 2% of shoppers convert on the first visit to an online store, these strategies might be just the thing to work your magic on the other 98%.


News: Google restricts data in Adwords Keyword Planner

This week we spotted this blog piece published on Search Engine Land giving the heads up that Google is restricting the data shown in their Keyword Planner tool for low spend Adwords accounts.

In summary, earlier this week, some marketers noticed that the Keyword Planner tool was displaying ranged data rather than precise search volumes. The ranges being shown were also incredibly broad with some results showing "100K - 1M".

Google have recently confirmed that accurate search volume data will now only show to higher-spending Adwords advertisers. 

Historically, users have used Google's keyword volume tool to carry out keyword research for both PPC and SEO purposes. 

The Keyword Planner tool has always been a quick and free way to obtain search volume data.

However, going forward it appears that this tool will now have more limited access and will only be free for those advertisers with higher Adwords budgets. 

The range data that "lower-spend" advertisers will see will make the tool pretty much useless.

Needless to say, this has caused a bit of a stir on the Google forum. Here's the original post from Google.

So what can smaller advertisers do to get keyword data? 

Advertisers with smaller budgets may need to lean on an agency for help in carrying out detailed keyword research. If your PPC program is already run by an agency, the chances are they will still have access to the tool because their aggregate spend will be high enough. 

It's not yet clear what the budget cut-off is and how Google will determine which advertisers have access to the full tool. 

Social Media Trends in 2016

Keeping our fingers on the pulse of social media is a big part of what we do, and a key element of this is watching trends rise, fall and plateau in this constantly evolving and ever-exciting arena. Here are 5 social media trends making waves this year:

1.       Video content

As predicted, social platforms have continued to embrace the meteoric rise of video. Statistics from MarketingInsiderGroup.com revealed that last year online video accounted for 64% of all consumer internet traffic - this is set to rise to 69% by 2017 and 79% by 2018. As well as the popularity of video giants such as YouTube and Vine, 2016 has also seen a rise in engagement with short gifs and cinemagraphs - the latter reportedly receives 60% more engagement than static images. Additionally, YouTube is now considered to be the second largest search engine in the world after Google, with more than a billion users.

2.       Live streaming

It seems that 2016 is shaping up to be the year of live video. Periscope users generated 200 million live broadcasts on the app in its first year and with the launch of Facebook Live Broadcast, teamed with Facebook’s announcement it will prioritise video in news feeds, this is an area that looks set to explode.

3.       Purchasing through social channels

Social shopping, where consumers can buy from brands via social networks, is firmly on the scene since Pinterest made waves last year with their ‘buyable pins’, Twitter tested the ‘buy’ button, and Facebook announced plans to push more browsers into buyers with developments to the app’s dedicated shopping section. Instagram too, has made its foray into e-commerce with direct response ad formats that enable users to ‘learn more’, ‘install’, or ‘shop now’. Recent research from analytics organisation Aimia, revealed that more than half (56%) of consumers following brands on social platforms state they do so to browse products, so it’s unsurprising that Snapchat has confirmed plans to bring out its own e-commerce platform.

4.       Influencer marketing

In just a few short years, influencer marketing has taken off in a huge way. It started with brands paying YouTubers and has now spread like wildfire to Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Twitter, Facebook and blogging platforms. SocialMediaToday.com reported that in 2015 alone, influencer marketing more than doubled within the year. From leading game manufacturers and communities developing partnerships with YouTube’s top gaming influencers such as Sssniperwolf to beauty brand Birchbox using popular lifestyle bloggers to promote their products, the investment in influencer marketing is expected to rise.

5.       Rise of social customer service

The past few years have seen a steady rise in consumer expectations from brands on social media, and according to Business2Community, 90% of enterprise companies say they use social media to engage with customer service queries. Social platforms provide the opportunity for customers to engage with brands directly and publicly, asking questions or airing grievances. Marketers need to make sure they have systems in place to deal with customer service queries in a timely fashion in order to foster solid relationships and maintain their reputation.

We are interested to see how these trends pan out as the year moves on - after all, staying abreast of the ‘next big thing’ is a key part of staying one step ahead of the competition. And we like to help our clients do just that…

SEO Audits: the why, the when and the how

You wouldn’t dream of running a car for years without an MOT, right? 

Like a car that isn't regularly checked over, your website may also have problems lurking under the bonnet that you aren't aware of. That is until something breaks or your organic rankings drop.

Having an SEO audit at intervals and key milestones is essential for keeping your website performing well and staying ahead of the competition online.

How often should you carry out an SEO audit?

We recommend having an audit every 3-5 years at an absolute minimum.  However the chances are your website will have had a lot of work done to it during that sort of time period and possibly even a complete re-launch.  

If you've made significant changes to your website, you should carry out an audit or even a mini-audit to check the effect of those changes and ensure you keep moving forward.

The 2016 Search Engine Journal (SEJ) report revealed that whilst over three-quarters (77%) of industry experts believe that businesses should perform a full SEO audit every six months, over half (56%) stated they never perform SEO audits for new clients.

Clearly, the detailed process of carrying out a full audit, combined with confusing technical wizardry and a lack of clarification regarding the mysterious ins and outs of those all-important search engine algorithms, can lead to many business owners putting an audit on the back-burner in favour of more pressing issues.

Putting it off can lead to problems

The fact remains: not bothering to conduct an SEO audit on a regular basis will not only affect your organic search traffic, it will affect your bottom line.

The longer you leave it to tackle, the more complex it can become to uncover any gaps – and the longer it can take to plug them.

Additionally, the world of SEO is forever changing and evolving; strategies that worked last year may well soon be obsolete. Regular audits will help your website move with the times (which in digital marketing, as we know, is incredibly fast).

So, what exactly does an SEO audit do?

Essentially, it is an analysis of a website’s overall health, checking a wide range of technical and on-page elements to measure how well it is performing and, importantly, highlight any strengths and weaknesses or gaps that need to be addressed in order to gain maximum exposure from search engines.

A thorough SEO audit will analyse much more than just keyword usage – often the first element people think of when they consider SEO. External factors such as the sources of your traffic, social profiles, domain quality, backlinks and brand mentions will be taken into account, as well as a range of internal factors like meta data, page hierarchy, internal linking and URL structure.

Additionally, the website structure should be examined, taking into account key considerations like loading speed, meta data and coding.

An SEO audit should look at your site from the user’s point of view as well as the search engine’s. It should also take into account what your competitors are up to as well.

Should I carry out my own audit, or get the experts in?

A certain amount of technical knowledge is necessary to conduct an SEO audit, so that you are equipped to deal with any issues that crop up. You also need to have a broad understanding of SEO and the wide variety of factors that should be checked as part of an audit.

There are a number of free, basic SEO audit tools that can help make this task a little easier. SEMRush assists with competitor analysis; SEMAlt is a useful keyword ranking tool; whilst Screaming Frog SEO Spider is website crawler that explores website URLs and key onsite elements.

These tools are free in their most basic version, but use can be limited unless you are willing to invest in a license for the additional features that allow you to carry out a more comprehensive analysis of your site.

If a DIY audit doesn’t sound like something you are able to make time for, perhaps consider outsourcing to those specialising in this area – this way you can be sure your website’s SEO is in good hands while you focus on other priorities.


The SEO work that Curious Cat Digital have carried out for us has been successful and we have seen extra revenue from our online presence because of it.
— Richard Oswin, Associate, Clegg Associates

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