10 Black Friday Marketing Tips: What You Need to Know This Year

Somehow, it’s November. The days are colder and the high street Christmas lights are already twinkling to mark the start of the holiday season. Yep, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a matter of weeks away, and if you’re not already busily preparing your marketing efforts then you really should start.

This year’s events promise to offer big opportunities, but it’s important to learn from the key takeaways of last year, as well as to be in the know about what will be different this year.

To save any potential headaches, we’ve put together a list for what you need to know.

1. Black Friday is more lucrative than ever for online stores

Black Friday seems to get an increasingly bad rep each year; accused of promoting mass consumerism, impulse buying and, in extreme cases, in-store brawls! But shoppers aren’t turning away – in fact, digital sales in the USA increased by 16.9% last year, with a record $5 billion spent in 24 hours. In the UK, £1.4bn was spent online last Black Friday, 11.7% more than in 2016. The opportunity is huge for merchants as consumers flood online to seeking deals. For Very.co.uk, a whopping 18% of last year’s total ecommerce sales came from Black Friday.

black friday rei

2. …but some are dropping out

Of course, it’s worth considering whether your shoppers and target audience will want or expect you to take part, and whether the event jeopardises any of your brand values. Luxury brands, for example, who rely on a reputation for superior quality and thus expensive prices might not benefit from the event. For various reasons, we find retailers drop out of Black Friday every year, with some choosing not to trade at all on the big day. B&Q is the latest retailer to announce it will not be taking part, choosing instead to stick with its ‘everyday low price model’.

3. It’s taking up more time than ever before

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday week will take up more time than ever this year. Long gone are the times Black Friday was, literally, just one day of deals. Now, the expectation is several days up to and after Cyber Monday, and in some cases longer than a week. Amazon has announced more Black Friday deals than ever before, which will run from November 16th right through to November 25th. That’s 9 days!

black friday social deals

4. Shoppers love sharing Black Friday deals on social

If you’re taking part this year, be sure to use social to promote your deals throughout your sale. It’s the time of year consumers are most likely to share information about deals with their friends, and many will use social to search for deal. In fact, a third of retailers said social was their preferred way to announce deals.

marketing leak black friday

5. Some brands are leaking deals

Retailers know full well that consumers are already thinking about Black Friday. Many shoppers have planned items to purchase and will buy certain Christmas presents in the sales. And of course, many will browse and impulse buy, too. Several retailers are ‘leaking’ deals already, letting shoppers know some of the bargains they can expect to ensure they hit their stores when the deals begin. If you’re planning your own ‘leak’ consider social media, influencers and PR.

6. Cart abandonment soars on Black Friday

This is something to watch out for. Cart abandonment reached a whopping 74.5% in the US last year as shoppers hesitated to purchase in case they missed a better deal elsewhere. The best thing you can do here is set up urgency messaging, with scarcity updates to let shoppers know how much stock is left. You can also show the popularity of products in real time (this can all easily be set up with Bunting!).

email black friday tui

7. Email isn’t going anywhere

As for marketing tactics, email was more popular than ever for promoting deals last year. There was an 11% increase in total volume of emails sent on Black Friday from the previous year, and Shopify reported email had the highest conversion rate of all marketing tactics at 4.29%. However, subject lines and creativity go a long way, as people’s inboxes become clogged with promotions. But with this being the year of GDPR, your emails should only go out to those who want to receive them (in the EU, at least).

influencer youtube black friday

8. Influencer marketing will play a bigger role

Cutting through the noise is half the battle on Black Friday with everyone competing for consumers’ attention. With this in mind, brands are looking more to influencers to produce engaging content to promote their sales. For cost-effectiveness, look for microinfluencers who can review your products and find ways to make your content shareable – be creative, and don’t be afraid to add humour.

9. Personalization matters

Regardless of the marketing tactics you use, personalized messaging work better and will help cut through the noise. Present shoppers with deals relevant to their interests in real time and make sure these products take centre stage when they land on your site. Use product recommendations to help shoppers find relevant alternatives.

free gift clarins black friday

10. Shoppers want free gifts

The best bit about Black Friday for some of us is getting a free gift after making a purchase from your favourite store. Offering freebies is a great way to help shoppers convert, as while they might get a cheaper product elsewhere, they won’t get the same gift elsewhere. Clarins gave away a generous 6 free samples to shoppers last year which, for many, would mean Christmas had come early! Importantly though, a free gift needs to be relevant to a person’s interests – so why not offer a choice?

So…

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday week promises to be busier than ever this year, and you’ll need to be super prepared to schedule your marketing activities throughout the event to guarantee you maximise the traffic and orders available to you.

And if you need some help optimising and personalising your store, get in touch with us at Bunting!

Influencer Marketer

How Social Media and Influencer Marketing Has Transformed Fashion Ecommerce

Imagine what the modern fashion industry would look like without the aid of social media, ecommerce and influencer marketing…

As little as 10 years ago the fashion world was an exclusive industry, controlled by a small number of gatekeepers at the top. Creative directors would produce the trends and magazine editors would convey them to the public. The process was slow, decided by few and admired by many.

Then something started to change.

There was a surge in social media use and consumer purchasing habits began to alter. There was much more exposure to the latest trends which lead to a huge increase in demand. Ecommerce was anticipating the start of the ‘see now, buy now’ era.

This post will explore how the impact of influencer marketing and the rise of ecommerce has affected the running of the fashion industry – and what you can learn from it.

Influencer Marketing

The rise of Instagram

The rapid growth of social media platforms has had an irreversible effect on the way we interact and contribute to the fashion industry today.

Earlier this year, Instagram announced a monthly user count of over 1 billion. Yes, using Instagram allows marketers access to over a billion targets per month; even in the height of Vogue’s publications this reach couldn’t have ever been imagined.

With a surge in disposable content, weekly magazines do not fulfil the demand for ‘newness’. It was reported in 2017 that Look Magazine had faced a year-on-year decline in circulation of 37%. Is this evidence of why fashion marketing has shifted platforms?

Instagram is being used by marketers to create a greater reach through increasing its engagement. By bridging the gap between brand and customer, we can now release our own content such as sharing new products, conducting interactive polls and running competitions for followers. No longer do we require the aid of magazine publications.

With a quick search of ‘#LFW’ (London Fashion Week) on Instagram we can generate over 5.3 million related posts. The amount of interaction and contribution is huge, but generating engagement on Instagram doesn’t really mean much unless you can convert it into increased traffic and sales.

ASOS are doing great things on social. They convey a human personality through their brand image, transforming an authentic social presence into higher sales. ASOS crowdsource their social media content, posting images of buyers wearing ASOS clothing (these people vary from big influencers to those with a small following).

By showing an interest, customers feel more encouraged to wear ASOS clothes and post about them online. This method seems simple but effective, especially as ASOS revealed a 26% sales increase over the previous sales year.  ASOS are able to gather free content, increase brand loyalty and generate exposure.

ASOS - Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing: The Rise of the Individual

We know social media influencers are the new big thing. Influencers can be used as a powerful tool to spread brand awareness to a loyal following. Choose the right one and an influencer can reach the niche audience you’ve been searching for. They can create that buzz that increases web traffic and converts it into sales.

In an open-field of opportunity your smaller brand could ride the benefits of a social media influencer.

Take GymShark for example. In 2012, Ben Francis was 19 when he founded Gymshark in his university flat. 6 years down the line the gym clothing company is valued at $128M and holds 2.5 million followers on Instagram. So, how did he achieve this success?

After spotting a gap in the market for stylish gym clothing, Ben produced a product range and began targeting fitness pages on Instagram. He’d go on to send out packages of his product range to influential pages because he knew that the audience would have a shared perspective and interest. This influencer marketing would naturally create a buzz and when the items became available to purchase, people flocked to his site.

Gym Shark - Influencer Marketing

See now, Buy now: Urgency in Ecommerce

It is difficult to say whether social media sites created an increased demand for new products, or was the underlying answer.

Back in 2016, Burberry altered the inner working of the fashion world when they announced that they would be cutting the four-month delay between the runway show and public release. This trend was a reaction to people’s unwillingness to wait for new products, and soon caught on. This taught us that consumer demand was growing, an opportunity for marketers to target a willing audience.

By providing customers more exposure to what is on the market, individuals are more influenced to consume than ever before. If you can personalise your Ecommerce site to improve your guests’ experience, you can encourage them to stay for longer and spend more. Product suggestions, related product, cart reminders… We are moving the ecommerce experience further towards resembling the human shopping experience, and people are loving it.

Time is changing for Influencer Marketing

An Influencer Marketing World-First

With so much changing, it’s hard to imagine where we go from here. We believe influencer marketing and ecommerce will become even more closely aligned. And that’s why we’re about to launch a new tool that brings influencer marketing into the domain of the ecommerce site.

Shopcast allows influencer marketers (or in house experts) to broadcast their shopping trip live from your site, bringing along their legions of followers to shop alongside them. Being able to share outfit ideas, discuss products and promote new ranges enables influencers to drive more traffic and increase engagement.

The tool also allows people to interact with their friends through a pop up chatbox, comparing products and chatting together. You can sign up here to our free beta list now but be quick, it’s filling up fast!

To Wrap It Up…

There has been a lot of change in the fashion industry over recent years, but that isn’t a bad thing.

Social media is the perfect tool to spread brand awareness, and convey some personality. People trust people, so don’t be afraid to test out influencers who match your brand identity – they already hold the target market you have been searching for.

Be open to new ideas and tools. Stay up-to-date with the latest marketing methods, you will be missing out on traffic and converted sales if you fall behind the rest of the scene.

4 Essential Tips For Influencer Marketing On A Budget

Influencer marketing is one of the most powerful techniques to reach your target market today. Social media influencers are experts of their industry, they hold a trusted relationship with their following, they boost brand awareness through creative thinking, and generate increased sales and web traffic.

Sounds pretty good, right? Of course it does, but with the average cost of a single social media influencer post coming in at approximately $1000 per 100,000 followers, establishing a reach in that niche market is not always cheap.

It seems frustrating that without a bottomless pit of financial resources, you won’t be able to make an impression on your desired market. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

This post will explore the less financially burdening ways to use influencer marketing and gather that web traffic needed to generate sales and continued brand awareness.

Compensation models for influencer marketing

People are often sceptical about the power of social media influencers – and you probably should be. Just because someone has a large audience doesn’t necessarily mean they can generate you a large amount of sales. Throwing thousands of your limited budget at one Instagram post is a big risk (especially for smaller businesses and start-ups).

This is where compensation models help to redistribute the power between the business and the influencer. Take ‘Pay Per Post’: this is the most common form of influencer post. It is a one-off payment that ensures an influencer will be paid for a social media post dedicated to the product/service you have agreed. This method is often expensive, difficult to predict reliability, and doesn’t always reach the right crowd.

As a solution, ‘Cost Per Acquisition’ ensures that a payment is made to the influencer based off of the number of sales/subscribers that they generate for your business. ‘Cost Per Click’ provides a similar sentiment, although this payment method is based upon the amount of traffic that is driven to your website as a result of the influencer’s post. These methods save you from shelling out on an ad campaign with a possible dead end, with greater payments only made if there is greater traffic driven to your site/sales.

Use Micro-Influencers

For a business on a budget, getting a Kim Kardashian on board to boost your businesses reach may be a little intangible. However, a recent sweeping trend of micro-influencers is being used by smaller companies to get an early reach, at a much cheaper cost. Research conducted by Collective Bias suggested that just 3% of consumers were actually influenced by celebrity endorsements when making a purchase. By selecting the right micro-influencer, you have a very powerful tool that allows you to access the niche market that you have been trying to find. They’ve already done the work for you.

Take this for example – @blissedhappiness is Karina Blackwood’s Instagram account. With just over 18,000 followers, this page is dedicated to promoting Karina’s passion for fitness, health and wellbeing, and clothing. For a small fitness apparel company, Katrina obtains a gathering of follows that would suite their target demographic. Her engagement is genuine, she has a trustworthy rapport with her followers, and acts as a promoter for her reliable audience. The big numbers aren’t everything, right?

blissedhappiness

The tricky bit about using micro-influencers is finding the correct ones. They tend to be more difficult to find than macro-influencers for obvious reasons. However, there are tools to to help you. BuzzSumo is a search engine that generates suggested social media accounts based on a keyword search. A ranking of these pages is based on website domain authority and their number of followers. You can quickly see who is generating the most attention in your niche market, also allowing you an insight into the most popular content.

Use influencer marketing tools such as Shopcast

Using free software tools is the perfect way for your business to test out the latest influencer technologies, and stay on top of your industry. Bunting’s brand-new ecommerce product, Shopcast is currently taking free beta sign-ups for the first 10,000 people. The tool allows influencers to bring their engaged shoppers to your site and shop with them live, creating a fun and social experience. Whereas social media posts often rely on an influencer posting a link (which is not even possible on Instagram posts), Shopcast allows influencers to actually bring shoppers to your site and engage with them live.

Shopcast

Use your customers and in-house experts

Have you got experts on your team who can fly your company’s flag? Or maybe your own customers have an engaged following on social media and could promote your products at a far lower cost than more established influencers.

Tools like Shopcast don’t have to be used by established influencers, either – someone on your team with a great knowledge of your products can do a live Shopcast, sharing their coveted wisdom with your visitors. Shoe expert Jenni Bailey from specialist retailer Calla Shoes recently used Shopcast to showcase her summer products for ladies with bunions, sharing her vast knowledge of styling for this condition. The session saw an impressive 18% conversion rate.

To wrap up…

Influencers are the modern-day masters of marketing, they provide content to an audience that trusts their opinion. But after all, it is your decision. Be picky about how you are spending your limited budget and explore all the options before making a decision.

Remember, a mass following does not always ensure results. Be careful about who you select, considering multiple micro-influencers rather than one macro-influencer, as they usually have a much more loyal following.

Try out new technologies. Optimize on your influencers ability to engage with your potential customers by experimenting with new products and ideas, like Shopcast.

If you would like to find out more about Bunting’s influencer marketing tool, get in touch with the team.

micro-influencer bunting

Micro-influencers: 4 Reasons You Need Them In Your Marketing Strategy

You might not immediately consider micro-influencers when you embark on your first influencer marketing campaign. They have smaller audiences – typically in the region of 10,000 or fewer followers – when compared to more well known influencers. You’ve likely never heard of most of them, but if you look a little closer, you’ll see that there is much for marketers to be excited about.

Micro-influencers have a dedicated following and far better engagement rates than their macro-influencer counterparts. They’re becoming increasingly in demand, and for good reason.

Here are four reasons why you should be using micro-influencers in your marketing strategy.

1. Micro-influencers make your brand look authentic

Micro-influencers are seen completely differently to celebrities or macro-influencers. When a celebrity posts sponsored content, the public’s reaction is often of distrust or cynicism – people often just don’t believe that the celeb uses the brand they’re promoting. They have all the money in the world to buy whatever brand they want, right?

Micro-influencers, on the other hand, carry a far superior level of authenticity, and their audience listens to them. They’re often experts or enthusiasts about their particular niche, and their opinion, therefore, holds more weight.

Ultimately, micro-influencers are regular people like you and me.

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This beauty influencer @IFEBOB has a relatively small following of just under 23,000 followers, but is a makeup artist and expert in her field. This makeup tutorial is done in collaboration with a makeup company with links to the products she used. While this is a sponsored post, it doesn’t really feel like one – her opinion is trusted, and people can see how great the products look on her. Her engagement for this post was 41 likes per thousand followers.

2. They have higher audience engagement

Engagement is so important in influencer marketing campaigns. If an influencer gets tonnes of likes, comments, questions and shares on their posts, it’s a good indication that people care about what they post.

And that’s the great thing about micro-influencers. Believe it or not, they typically have much higher engagement rates than large-scale influencers. Just look at the research by Markerly, below.

Comments and like rates decrease dramatically as an influencer grows in numbers of followers.

beauty influencer

3. You’ll save money with micro-influencers

These great engagement rates also mean you get a lot more bang for your buck. According to the agency Hello Society, micro-influencer campaigns are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than macro-influencers campaigns, and therefore more cost effective, too.

Micro-influencers typically cost far less than celebrity influencers, who can charge eyewatering fees in excess of $250,000. Some celebs, such as Kylie Jenner, are estimated to charge a whopping $1 million per sponsored Instagram post. Micro-influencers, on the other hand, are more likely to charge somewhere between $150 – $1000.

However, be aware you may not have rights to use the content in other places, and you may be charged to use the image in other marketing.

4. They’ll use their creativity to make your brand look good

We know that blatantly promotional posts aren’t as effective as they used to be. As influencer marketing grows, it’s important to find new ways to capture followers’ attention and imagination. Instagram is overflowing with celebrity sponsored posts that look – and are – completely staged. Let’s not forget Scott Disick’s Instagram fail, where he copy and pasted the Bootea marketing team’s message on a post to his 20+ million followers. Eek!

Micro-influencers love having creative control, and are much more likely to put time and thought into your joint campaign. A survey by Crowdtap found that their favourite projects are the ones that allow them creative freedom. Allow your influencer’s ideas to lead the way – they’re content experts after all, and have built their following through their carefully crafted content. Look beyond social posts and consider other types of content, such as videos, interviews, tutorials, or top tip articles.

Specsavers recently launched a microinfluencer campaign, where they featured social media influencers on their website wearing their favourite pair of glasses. They allowed the influencers to explain their choices, letting them show their personality with a link to their chosen glasses.

specsavers micro-influencer marketing
specsavers influencer instagram
influencer fail

To wrap up…

Research has found that 82 percent of consumers reported they were highly likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer. They’re trusted, have higher engagement rates, are cost-effective and love the chance to get stuck into a creative project.

When it comes to deciding between a micro or macro-influencer, you might just choose the micro-influencer, after all.

To find out more about how to get started on your next micro-influencer campaign, get in touch: hello@bunting.com

How to create urgency messaging like Booking.com

We have all been influenced by urgency messaging at some point in our lives. Ever purchased that dress you somehow convinced yourself you needed as there was free next day delivery for one hour only? Booked a swanky hotel because it was 15% off the standard rate and only 1 room left? Yes, we thought so.

We are now in a world where we have access to almost anything we need, at the touch of a few buttons, with numerous websites selling similar products. As a result, we are spoilt for choice, and retailers are feeling the pinch.

Companies are always looking for ways to raise sales, and creating urgency is an effective method of converting your visitors into customers. In this blog we will show you how to  break through your visitors’ mental hurdles to purchase, such as overthinking and waiting too long. Urgency encourages consumers to act quickly, and can often result in increased order values and conversions.

Time limited offers

It is well known that putting time limitations on offers are more effective than allowing them to be open ended. Injecting urgency in your website by notifying your visitors how long is left on the offer encourages them to make the decision there and then. Countdown timers can be used on offers such as free next day delivery, or discounts off purchases. A recent survey found that 71 percent of respondents residing in suburban areas would prefer free home delivery service ahead of free click and collect. If you choose to promote free delivery, be specific to your customers about when the item will arrive. Research has shown that stating the exact time you can expect your item to be delivered is clearer than stating the delivery speed (in days, hours etc).

You can A/B split test different variations of the offers, such as text, position and colours to see which are the most effective at boosting your conversions.

Scarcity Warnings

Scarcity techniques, such as highlighting to customers which items are low in stock, ranked first in the most successful e-commerce marketing personalization techniques worldwide as of June 2017. Results show that using scarcity warnings provide an average uplift in revenue-per-visitor reaching 2.9 percent.

We have all experienced that dreaded feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out), and your customers feeling that they’re going to miss out on that last item in stock is no different. Showing limited stock levels not only activates the fear factor in your customers, but also lets them know that their chosen items might not be available for much longer if they don’t act soon.

Social call outs

Urgency can also be created by showing consumers call-outs highlighting how popular the product they’re viewing is, based on other shoppers behaviour.

This feature can be added to your product pages using simple pop up boxes showing how many times items have been viewed or purchases in the last 24 hours, or even how many people are also viewing the item right now.

Showing consumers how popular a product is, heightens its desirability and therefore increases the probability of the product being added to basket. It is worth noting though, this could backfire if your product has had very few purchases!

Social Recommendations

You can create urgency using social recommendations by showing visitors notifications of how well products have been selling that hour, day or week. An alternative would be to feature a list of products which are selling fast on your homepage. This shows to consumers not only that your website is popular, but also creates urgency for them to purchase one of the best sellers before they all get snapped up!

Using colours to promote urgency

Booking.com is king when it comes to using colours to promote urgency on their website. Our bodies are hard wired to change our behaviour when we see different colours. Red is often associated with anger, importance but also love. Orange, whilst having some of the same energising aspects as red, does so in a slightly safer degree. Orange is a good way to add excitement to your urgency messaging with less severity. Green is seen to be a softer colour, and naturally represented as a safe colour, especially when placed next to the stimulating colours of red and orange.

 

As always, we highly recommend that you split test your colour choices to find out which works best for your site…however, there is a reason that red is most commonly used!

And finally…

Adding some urgency to your website encourages shoppers to take the actions you want them to, and has been proven, when used correctly to increase your conversions. We would always recommend that you split test any changes you make to measure the impact.

Need some assistance in getting your real time urgency messaging set up? Let us help!

Bunting offer a free months trial for our customers, so you can see the results for yourself.

The New Google Update for Pop-ups: Is Your Site Ready?

On the 10th January, the ever-evolving Google search algorithm will change.

The big change in a nutshell? Google will now punish sites that use intrusive pop-ups or ‘interstitials’ on their mobile websites by lowering their search ranking.

Do take note, that this is only affecting mobile sites. So, you won’t need to make any updates to your desktop site.

Also, the update isn’t something to be too worried about. Google launched an update last year that gave preference in its search results to “mobile friendly sites”. This update is a natural extension of this, and one that isn’t difficult to work with.

The tricky part is determining what is meant, exactly, by an intrusive pop-up. Let’s summarise what you can and can’t do when it comes to pop-ups.

These pop-ups are not OK:

–  A pop up that covers the main content of the page.

–  Pop ups that are difficult to dismiss (can you clearly see the cross?).

–  Using a pop-up that is similar to the style of the above-the-fold part of the page.

These pop-ups are OK:

– Pop-ups and banners that, in Google’s words, use a “reasonable amount of screen space”, and that can be dismissed easily. If in doubt, the app install banners provided by Chrome and Safari are safe to use and meet the new guidelines.

– Pop-ups that notify visitors of some kind of legal requirement. For example, cookie regulations or age verification. These should be at the top of the screen and not obscure the entire page.

Here’s a handy image from Google that illustrates acceptable pop-ups:

google-pop-up-guidelines

What about Bunting’s pop-ups?

Using pop-ups is a key part of our tool, and we all know how engaging pop-ups can be when used to personalise the customer experience.

Our advice is this:

When creating pop-up content, to play it completely safe, you can disable pop-ups for mobile devices. To do this, when you’re in visitor targeting, select ‘device used is equal to computer’. This will prevent mobile devices seeing the pop-up.

targeting-tool-equal-to-computer

A great alternative to pop-ups is displaying Bunting’s message bars on mobile. These can present a personalised message to users at the top or bottom of screen. They’re definitely not intrusive, and easily dismissable – keeping your customers, and Google, happy!

All in all, the new update is nothing to lose sleep over. By following our tips above, your site should be fine. And for our users, make sure you log in to your Bunting account to make any required changes!

How Your Online Store Should Prepare for the Black Friday Five-day

When it comes to profits, Black Friday is every retailer’s favourite American export. As manic as it may be, it is an amazing opportunity to drive sales, and capture new customers. This year will be no exception.

The big difference this year, however, is it’s predicted to be an overwhelmingly online event that will take place over a full 5 days. Goodbye Black Friday, hello Black Five-day – a five day shopping spree that will see visitors expecting online deals from the 24th November right through to Cyber Monday on the 28th.

It’s also predicted that this year’s event is going to be bigger than ever. More than 1 in 3 families will buy their Christmas presents over the Black Friday weekend. Sales are expected to surpass the $4.5 billion spent in the US last year, with £5 billion worth of sales predicted in the UK. And online traffic is expected to increase by up to 20%.

With expectations like this, it makes sense to get ready now.

Optimise and Personalise Marketing Activities

email-puc

In the run up to Black Friday, make sure you utilise the right channels to create a buzz about your event and remind shoppers of what kind of deals they can look forward to, and when.

Interestingly, last year, email drove more sales than any other channel on Black Friday. Consider personalising content around customers’ buying and browsing behaviour – personalised deals and recommendations will convert better and see more return visitors.

During the event itself, feeding customers deals gradually will help control peak traffic spikes and reduce strain. Plan carefully to stagger marketing activites and think carefully about what times to send out your messages.

Test, test, test!

Some of the biggest brands’ websites have infamously crashed during the Black Friday rush. And while most sites think this may be a concern reserved only for high volume retailers, all sites should think carefully about site functionality and load times during peak hours.  Unprecedented numbers of online visitors are expected this year.

By preparing in advance, and carrying out performance tests you can avoid any disruptions during the big event. Discuss traffic concerns and limitations with your web hosters. Make sure your whole organisation is communicating across departments, particularly with regards to marketing activities that could cause traffic spikes.

Get mobile ready

mobile shopping

In 2015, 52% of traffic came from mobile. More than ever, it’s important your store responds well on mobile, and that your offers and marketing material are optimised and accessible on mobile devices.

According to Big Blue, mobile and tablet devices accounted for well over half of traffic last year, seeing a 16% increase. In addition, mobile accounted for over a third of purchases and saw higher AOV than desktops. Black Friday has become a largely online event and this year will be more about mobile than ever before. With this in mind, you should make your mobile marketing personalised in line with other channels.

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While Black Friday may bring stresses and strains on your website, planning in advance will help ensure your site is ready to reap the benefits of higher traffic and engaged shoppers.

Watch this space for more hints and tips in the run up to the big week!

Ecommerce Optimisation: What you really need to consider for Q3

So we’ve made it half-way through the year which, to ecommerce folk, means we’ve reached Q3 of 2016.

We’ve seen a lot and learned a lot this year, with surprises along the way.  So, given what’s happened so far, what should you be considering for the next quarter?

1. It’s time to get video savvy

video toys r us ecommerce

The first half of the year has shown that customers are demanding more content rich and visceral shopping experiences. They don’t want just a mere photo and description. Vivid and detailed product descriptions are no doubt helpful, and beautiful product photography is great, but this doesn’t quite capture the essence of your products like high quality video.

Product tutorials, and demos can work well on video, and can also provide shareable material. A bit of creativity can go a long way. Look here for some video ideas.

2. Reputation marketing is more important than ever

Social proof is now a complete expectation, and affects both online and in-store purchasing. Google research shows 8 out of 10 people use a smart phone in store to consult reviews whilst shopping. Online, many shoppers won’t buy a product that doesn’t have a review, and they may go to an online store elsewhere that displays a good number of reviews.

Reputation marketing tools allow you to directly respond to customer feedback and manage interactions. Negative reviews can be turned into positive experiences with the right response. It’s also worth trying to incentivise your customers to leave a review – higher number of reviews translates into more trust in both your products and brand (unless, of course, reviews are largely negative!)

3. Customers are less patient

baby phone angry

The expectations of customers are changing rapidly, and this applies to online customer service more than anything. Online visitors have less and less patience when it comes to finding answers to questions – and if their answers can’t be found easily, why should they hang around?

Customers also might want a bit of advice and assurance about which product suits their needs. Live chat is the best current solution to this, and, from a vendor point of view,  is a worthwhile investment. Consider this: Live Chat has the highest levels of customer satisfaction at 73%, compared to 44% over the phone.

4. Get ready for the big online shopping days

cyber monday

It’s well known that events like Black Friday are huge opportunities to drive traffic and sales. Cyber Monday yielded $3 billion last year in the US, but the biggest day online was Singles Day in China with Alibaba making over $14 billion alone. It’s predicted that these days will only get bigger, and new event days are popping up.  It’s worth preparing for these days significantly in advance, with a targeted and personalised marketing campaign, and ensuring your site is well prepared for the weight of extra traffic. Other events to consider in this next quarter are Back to School Sales, Summer Clear Outs and significant days within your country or culture.

5. Personalisation is hitting the mainstream

homepage personalisastion

85% of marketers are now using personalisation across campaigns (source: Researchscape/Evergage), with personalisation typically showing conversion increases of 19%. There is no doubt that delivering personalised experiences is necessary to keep up with the competition, as customers similarly expect their onsite experiences to be relevant to them. Interestingly, most marketers rate their personalisation efforts as no higher than a ‘C grade’, so clearly work needs to be done. With a large proportion citing lack of technology as a factor, tools like Bunting will undoubtedly make the process easier.

So…

As we head into the next quarter of the year, it’s worth thinking about what we’ve learned so far, and how this information can help optimise your site. Making these changes now will no doubt help prepare your store for the winter buying rush in Q4 (But we won’t talk too much about that yet..!).