Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post which resonated with many of you, based on the many comments I received. It was a drive down the Internet memory lane and in today’s post I thought I would continue the ride. Isn’t it funny how history repeats itself – you will soon see why. Today’s blog post will share how ecommerce merchants (including me) captured and built email databases in the mid-1990’s and how today’s socially engaged merchants are closely resembling this by capturing Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers.
But before I go down memory lane again, let me make a hard stop. The economic news over the last month is getting really scary for retailers/merchants and today as I write this we had another 420 point drop in the Dow. So I ask you how are your consumers reacting to all of this? Have you thought about how they will react for the Holidays? Are you ready for another bumpy ride?
If your business is sensitive to these consumer gyrations then what plans are you setting into motion if your numbers are not where you need them to be as you go into the Holidays? As you know doing something at the last minute to recover lost sales will always beat the heck out of your margins. So…
- What are your Plan B’s, should you need them to boost sales?
- What alternative marketing tools are you putting in place now that will not only boost revenue but also protect your margins and/or give you an incremental lift in business?
If this has been your boardroom discussion over the last several weeks as we watch Washington’s political stalemate and while our 401K’s take a big time hit…
For those of you who have been in and around Internet/ecommerce marketing for years or those of you who are honing your craft, you’re finding that there is no free online-marketing lunch. Ecommerce marketing is getting tougher year after year. Just look at your comps. No doubt about that. And many of you are stymied about how to make money with Facebook and Twitter. But I hope you are seeing these two new social platforms as a new Golden Goose with those golden eggs looking just like email did years ago. In fact, to monetize the Goose you just have to follow the social trails of years past.
Even with the migration of brick and mortar sales to ecommerce, it is no secret that eyeballs and buying is moving to Facebook, Twitter and Mobile and other platforms like Google+. In fact, a Morgan Stanley study indicated that by 2014, 50% of all ecommerce would be done on a mobile smartphone or Tablet platform.
I sense you already know that in order to move your ecommerce business needle you must continually test new innovations and just like when ecommerce began in the mid-90’s those of us who began our online careers during this period knew that email was the preferred and perhaps the only place to find consumers online.
Amazing as this sounds today, there were no emarketing technologies to help build your business. No Affiliate Marketing, No Banner Ads, No Keywords, No Retargeting, No SEO, No PPC, No collaborative filtering engines, No Internal Search, No Personalization technologies but the one thing we had was SOCIAL marketing.
Wait. What do you mean social marketing in 1995+? That’s right, you were socializing with your consumer using email and your consumer engaged with you using email. Your consumer became social with you and they loved it. In fact, email worked so well to socialize your business it continues today to beat out virtually any other ecommerce marketing channel for making you net marketing profits.
As such, merchants at that time quickly figured out more ways to monetize the email “social” channel.
So what did marketers and merchants do to begin to socialize marketing through email?
They started to ask consumers for their email address(es). The key here and the lesson which also translates well today in the social marketing experience is you asked your website traffic to “like us” by giving you their email address and because they liked your brand they chose to get “email only” offers too.
Merchants were happy to trade email addresses for special deals and discounts because they knew the growth of the email database would eventually turn into gold bullion for their businesses. And they were right.
Looking back 15 years or so the cool part of this plan was that consumers did what you asked them to do. They forked over the personal and/or business email addresses in droves. Then you were on your way to building a social relationship with these consumers that of course quickly led to email commerce. Or should we say social commerce conducted through email marketing.
Are you asking your consumers on your website and email to Like and Follow you on Facebook and Twitter? Where are you doing this?
Sounds simple doesn’t it? But nothing is as simple as it sounds. How frequently are you doing a social email to promote your social channels? Weekly, Monthly or sadly not at all?
Next, are you doing exclusive social-only offers? Providing Likes and Followers special social channel deals not available anywhere else? In the 90’s you did it through email promo codes and you still do. Why not do the same with Facebook, Twitter and Mobile?
Consumers in the early days of ecommerce gave you their precious email address but in doing so, just like today’s social consumer, there was a promise made between you the merchant and your consumer. The promise: Don’t abuse my permission.
So back in the early days, maximizing the numbers of email captures was on the mind of every marketer and making them stick (not opting out) was too.
But history should repeat itself…but does it?. Where are your social icons on your website and in email? Don’t tell me…I know…most likely buried at the footer of your website. But why?
With all the speaking that I do and behind that all the research to ready myself, I am trying to track down the “Social Czar” that has suggested that merchants place their social icons in the footer of their websites and emails? Why are you following this approach if you are? You didn’t with your email captures in the mid-90’s, so why with social?
Placing these social icons in the footer flies squarely in the face of the years of ecommerce research on the optimization of capturing emails, not to mention our own A/B split testing research on just this point. Was there a webinar that I missed or some social pundit telling websites “it is best to put social icons in the footer of your websites!” Or is this just a herding mentality where merchants are looking around at each other’s websites and duplicating the placement of social icons.
Positioning social icons in the header of the website and email is simply the Best Practice…Period End…
At ShoppeSimple we have done a host of A/B split tests to prove this point to our clients. We have seen results improving 5X when you move your social icons up to above the fold and 8-10X when you put social icons in the header of your website. It doesn’t get any simpler than that? Why not do your own tests?
But candidly when we did research and asked this question of prospective clients: “Why are your social icons on the footer of your website and email”? Their answers showed us that there is really no good reason to have done so. The answer usually falls into three categories:
- Our website real estate is too valuable and we have yet to figure out how to monetize our social channels.
- The branding or graphic arts department controls the home page.
- We looked at other sites and we are doing what they did. We just started in social so they know better what is working.
Please… do you run your ecommerce/social business the way other companies run their business?
Now let’s also take another pivot in our discussions and ask how are you capturing Facebook Likes? Are there parallels that can be drawn to the lessons of the past in the email capture stated above to help you with your Like captures? You Bet!
To Sweep For Likes is the subject of this blog but strong direct marketers know that Sweepstakes-sourced names are weaker performing names in the catalog and email space. I would suspect that you know that too. When was the last time your business put out an email broadcast with a sweeps offer in it? The same for your Catalog?
Bill Perrizo, a Direct Marketing veteran and currently at Northern Tool gave us these marketing hints around Sweepstakes offers…
“Anytime you entice people with something that will appeal to more than your normal customer, you are sure to see lower results when, and if, they purchase.
The lifetime value (one year payback) of the new names from sweeps will be less than the new names from other sources.”
So what’s the social history lesson for today? Why have I again taken you down the social email commerce memory lane?
It is great to see that many of you are beginning to focus on capturing your new social databases (Likes, Followers and mobile texts). But why do you feel compelled to do it using Sweepstake offers? I am afraid that what you will soon find out also happened in the Catalog and email-marketing world with sourced Sweeps names. Converting Sweeps sourced Likes won’t be any easier to convert in Social than Sweeps names were in Catalog and email.
There’s a better way
If you would put your social icons where we suggest and use our ShoppeSimple Social Consumer Centric™ tools to capture Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers we guarantee that you will effectively monetize these channels and drive incremental business. When you do, you will have a new monetization strategy for your social channels and money in your bank account for the Holidays.
One of our customers, generating $8 Million in sales (annualized) or around 10% of their online sales, has renewed with us twice. Another customer just renewed after seeing great matchback results with a rebuy rate lift of 38% and an Average Order Value lift of 32%. Still another recent renewal increased their frequency from 1 order per year to 2X+ on their active customer group.
With ShoppeSimple you can achieve results like this too so you don’t have to resort to using Sweeps to grow your social commerce channels. You can do so much better than that through the ShoppeSimple Network program.
So take the first step. Let me know what your schedule looks like in the next couple of weeks and we’ll get our conversation started with a virtual meeting.
PS. Please feel free to forward this to a friend or colleague.