White face mask with a map of the world is lying on a blue background.

COVID-19 Commerce for the Week of May 4, 2020

This week several countries have begun to relax COVID-19 restrictions, resulting in a drop in online purchasing for both pure players and retailers. With stores open, many consumers would rather shop the way they used to before the pandemic. But there is an underlying factor: the economic fallout has left many without jobs, and some consumers simply can’t afford to purchase anything beyond staples.

Here are some of the top e-commerce trends we’ve spotted over the past seven days.

Chopping Boards and Tripods Among the Fastest-Growing Product Sales in the Last Three Weeks

For some odd reason, the products showing the fastest growth in online sales over the past three weeks include chopping boards, tripods, and laundry baskets. The top-five list, which compares sales in the last three weeks with sales in the three weeks prior, are:

  1. Chopping boards (+75%)
  2. Food processors (+61%)
  3. Barbecues (+51%)
  4. Tripods (+51%)
  5. Laundry baskets (+49%)

The top three are understandable as they all relate to one category — food — but the others are a little harder to explain. Perhaps the lockdown is driving the demand for tripods for those making TikTok videos?

Conversely, the products showing the sharpest decline in consumer interest over the past three weeks include yoga mats (-74%), weights (-71%), treadmills (-64%), and exercise bikes (-62%) as the health market returns to normal after the initial lockdown spike.

Is Physical Retail Recovering in Countries Lifting Lockdown Restrictions?

As European countries re-open shops after lockdowns, are consumers exchanging online shopping for the high street once more?

Since Germany began to open shops again on the 20th of April, online sales revenue growth has decreased from 67% (in the week leading up to April 19) to 46% (in the week leading up to May 3rd) compared with the same time last year.

Italy has also seen a large decrease in online retail sales as people return to physical stores. At the time of shops reopening on the 20th of April, Italian online retail growth decreased from 159% to 105% year over year.

Spain began to re-open shops on May the 4th, and it remains to be seen whether online growth will shrink from the current 15% during the week leading up to May 3. And in the UK, where restrictions remain, online sales growth continues to rise — increasing from 99% to 128% between April 19 and May 3.

Pure E-Commerce Revenue Continues to Climb in the US Across All Categories

In the US, almost every vertical exceeded last year’s online revenue numbers as the country enters its seventh week in lockdown.

These trends are showing no sign of slowing down, either. Pure e-commerce brands look like they’re going to continue to see an uplift in sales and revenue online, simply based on the fact that consumers are growing accustomed to the ease of shopping online and pick-up-in-store options.

These no-contact shopping options are convenient in our time of lockdown, and Digital Commerce 360 is saying that the pandemic has accelerated the shift of in-store to online shopping. The big question is whether or not consumers will stick to these modes of buying as their primary way of shopping, even once lockdown restrictions are raised.

Data Insights for the Week

The Americas

In the US, the online spending spree of the last six weeks is winding down, dramatically in some industries. The growth’s been a surprise to some, but the reality of just how deep the economic impact will be is setting in — nearly a quarter of the American working population is unemployed. Millions of consumers have started tightening their belts over the last week. And this is happening even as some countries allow business to partially reopen.

Order Increase Leaders at a Glance

Europe

Omnichannel retailers in the UK are devoting a lot to e-commerce, and one of the trends of the last week was that certain industries like food and beverages, home gym equipment, home office equipment, and pets are seeing a ton of new customers. People who traditionally stopped by the pet store on the way home for food are now ordering online and having a whole new experience.

With businesses being allowed to reopen in Germany, two things happened this week.

As we’ve seen in other regions, online revenue and orders plummeted 50% throughout the DACH region.

The second thing will bear more watching: Consumers went shopping in-store and waited in long checkout lines with little regard for social distancing. This conflict will play out around the world. Do we open for business? Or do we continue to limit the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic?

Order Increase Leaders at a Glance

Asia Pacific

With e-commerce sales spiking, Australian retailers are rethinking their physical store model. Some brands will undoubtedly close stores, some may go bankrupt (Neiman Marcus in the US), but with the shift to digital bringing in revenue increases, many retailers will reevaluate stores as a channel. Ideally, a smaller number of brick-and-mortars complimented by a strong online presence would allow brands to focus more on how their customers like to shop.

Top Product Trends of the Week

Key Product Trend Insights: Weights are down this week, but other athletic wear and equipment are still being purchased (Swiss Ball is a top performer again this week with a +5,443% uplift). Beauty accessories are the fastest growers this past week.

Growth Rate of Online Transactions

E-commerce is growing the most in Europe, followed by the Americas, with APAC having markedly lower growth rates than the rest of the world this week.

Overall for pure players, orders are taking a bit of a dip this week, which may be due to some nations relaxing COVID-19 restrictions. Retail e-commerce is still doing quite well, especially in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Following are the growth trends we saw this week, but you can explore Regional and Countriestrends in more depth.

Trends by Region

Pure e-commerce: APAC pureplay is steadily rising (nearly 50% revenue growth this week), while revenue for most of the rest of the world either fell or flattened out.

Retail online: Here too, APAC has been on the upswing and caught up to North America, where revenue has begun to drop a bit, though retailers are still seeing 100% growth over the previous year.

Trends by Country

Pure e-commerce: Chile is crushing it and doubling its growth rate. Next closest is Canada with just under 150% revenue growth, then Mexico (124% revenue growth), with the United States falling to 88% revenue growth. Overall, Canada, the US, and Mexico are on a downward turn this week.

Ireland’s pureplay is up over 200%, with Belarus and the United Kingdom on an upward swing.

Australia (130%) and Thailand (46%) are both on an upward arc. New Zealand, which has been very strong over the last few weeks flattened out and fell this week (106%).

Retail online: Mexico and Canada are at the top with over 200% growth, while the United States ended the week back down at a flat 100% (still though, 100% growth YoY isn’t so bad).

Retailers in Turkey are seeing a huge amount of online activity, resulting in well over 200% revenue growth YoY. By comparison, the United Kingdom and Ireland ended the week over 125% growth, and Germany continues to be flat with just under 50% growth.

As for Asia Pacific, New Zealand finished the week up over 200% in revenue growth. Indonesia was just behind New Zealand, dipping to 175%. Another bright spot is Thailand shooting up from just under 100% to 178% in the last week.

More to Come…

Check our blog next week to see the latest e-commerce trends from ccinsight. Or, if you work for a company that has access to data that would improve and expand ccinsight, we’d love to talk to you and get you involved. Never before has open collaboration been more important.

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CCINSIGHT.ORG | Data-Based Consumer Insights to Help Retailers Drive New Strategic Approaches to COVID-19

Son and father with surgical masks packing groceries from supermarket in car trunk at parking lot

COVID-19 Commerce for the Week of April 27, 2020

As countries around the world remain in lockdown or consider easing COVID-19 restrictions, we continue to see a big shift to e-commerce, in part because consumers have been shopping from home more and more since mid-March.

Here are some of the top e-commerce trends we’ve spotted this week.

Nearly Half of Worldwide Online Sales for Brands Are from “New Customers”

A huge 43% of sales over the past month were made by first-time buyers, while the remainder of sales were made up of second-time buyers (5%), active repeat customers (23%), defecting customers (14%), and inactive customers (8%).

The data shows that it’s more important than ever to be able to quickly distinguish new customers from loyal ones, so you can target them with campaigns in the right way and do so quickly. Artificial intelligence can be a huge asset here because it can analyze your entire customer base quickly to determine who’s new and who’s loyal. Then, you can set up separate automated digital campaigns for each type of customer.

Video-Conferencing Is Driving Demand for Beauty Products

Many of us are working from home these days, and we still need to look good for all those Zoom meetings. This demand is driving considerable sales of beauty products across the world. Many products over the past month have seen triple-digit growth online compared with the same time last year. Online sales of lipstick are up 287%, as are sales for mascara (+275%), eyelash extensions (+195%), make-up brushes (+188%), and nail polish (+128%).

We can, perhaps, put some of this demand down to the “lipstick effect,” where in times of hardship and crisis, consumers purchase low-value luxury items to help them get through the situation — and the only way they can buy at the moment is online — but there are also brands (Adore Beauty and MECCA) who have done well with higher price beauty items especially when they’re able to provide the in-person beauty experience online.

American Fashion Retailers Are Seeing a Boost in Revenue

As the US slowly starts reopening non-essential businesses, there seems to be a correlation between announced re-openings and an uptick in revenue for fashion and accessories retailers.

Could there also be a link between this increased revenue and masks? According to a recent article in The New York Times, experts are estimating that we may be required to wear masks in public places for up to a year. With many fashion brands pivoting their manufacturing to PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), there is significant press and marketing surrounding these efforts — Forbes and Today are just a few examples.

But masks alone do not equal revenue. The feeling of safety, social responsibility with “buy one/give one” initiatives, and empathy radiating from the retailers who have embraced this new normal are the main factors driving engagement and customer loyalty.

Australians Are Getting Used to Online Shopping

Compared to the rest of the world, Australians haven’t taken as much to online shopping, but the lockdown is set to permanently reshape consumer behavior within the country. According to Matt Wade of the Sydney Morning Herald: “This crisis has forced many people to get a login, open an account and work out how things work. And I don’t think they’ll ever go back.”

As a sign of the rapid shift to digital, e-commerce sales in Australia have greatly increased since the start of the pandemic, although overall consumer spending is down.

Data Insights (Week of April 27, 2020)

The Americas

North, Central, and South America continue to see YoY growth in e-commerce sales. US fashion retailers report online revenue is up 88% YoY, and online orders are up 105% over the previous year. Even better, pure-play brands in Mexico are seeing orders up 200%.

This week we’ve heard that the US is planning to reopen businesses slowly, and as a result, fashion and accessories retailers are seeing an online revenue lift of +84% YoY.

Revenue Growth Leaders at a Glance

Europe

Austria was one of the earliest countries to go on lockdown. As a result, the Austrian shift to e-commerce has delivered incredible growth (+159% in mid-April), even beating out Germany.

Now with some businesses reopening in Austria, the trend is that e-commerce will take a dip at first — all the more reason to onboard new customers now and plan a long-term retention strategy. The bigger issue will be how Austrian e-commerce performs after stores are open again.

Revenue Growth Leaders at a Glance

Asia Pacific

Australian fashion and accessories retailers who have shifted sales online have seen over 70% increases in revenue YoY.

With e-commerce sales in New Zealand up 115% YoY — they were as high as 189% in mid-April — it will be interesting to see what happens in the wake of the government lifting COVID-19 restrictions this week.

Revenue Growth Leaders at a Glance

Top Product Trends

Key Product Trend Insights: Appliances are the top-selling products, with washing machines up 18X YoY and dishwashers (even though they’re slowing down this week) up 35X YoY. Athletic wear and equipment are also popular at the moment, with Swiss Ball seeing over 87X growth YoY this week. Meal prep and home improvement purchases are growing, too.

Growth Trends in Online Transactions

In the US, UK, Mexico, Australia, and parts of Europe, growth (in revenue and the number of orders) is good for brands who have shifted the most seamlessly to e-commerce-only. Of note, China’s economy is still making it hard for brands to grow revenue, perhaps due to the difficulties in reopening businesses.

Following are the growth trends we see this week, but you can explore Regional and Countries trends in more depth.

Trends by Region

Pure e-commerce: North American e-tailers are outperforming Europe and APAC in both revenue and orders.

Retail online: North American retailers have been the most successful in shifting to digital, and have the highest revenue in the last week, but orders in Europe are not far behind the U.S.

Trends by Country

Pure e-commerce: The United States and Australia have seen a downturn in revenue over the last few days, though US pure-play orders have stayed high throughout the month.

Retail online: The United States has remained strong in terms of revenue, but Australia recently beat out everyone else. Also of note, UK online retail has ended April above both the US and Australia in revenue.

How Brands Are Adapting This Week

Prior to the pandemic, it was predicted that 80% of US sales would still happen in a store. Now with the shift to digital, consumers of all ages are shifting to e-com.

The shift to digital is going to have long-lasting effects for retailers, in some cases permanently altering the way they do business. However, the brands who have adapted a digital-first strategy the fastest are seeing big boosts in food (Sur La Table) and grocery, household essentials (A.S. Watson), and beauty products (Adore Beauty and MECCA). Success here depends on either offering a convenient service or product not available before, OR delivering an engaging customer experience through digital channels.

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ccinsight

ccinsight: Monitoring the Daily Impact of COVID-19 on Online Consumer Spending by Region and Sector

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is changing the world in front of our very eyes. No one could’ve predicted how big an impact this was going to have on our lives.

The pandemic has already resulted in huge unemployment and stock market fluctuations affecting savings and share prices, with businesses finding it difficult to trade and operate in just a matter of weeks.

With nearly a quarter of the world’s population now on some kind of lockdown, consumer spending behavior has already changed. Offline sales have decreased because of non-essential shop shutdowns — and economists, governments, and business owners are rightly worried about the effect the pandemic is having on overall consumer confidence.

And there is nothing worse for consumer confidence than fear and uncertainty. Fear and uncertainty can often be self-perpetuating — especially when there’s no real information outlining the truth.

At Emarsys, we want to help our customers, partners, and the business community during these challenging times and provide accurate, up-to-date, and detailed information on consumer spending to help navigate the economic impact of this pandemic. So, in partnership with GoodData, we’re launching ccinsight today. 

ccinsight — A Daily COVID-19 Insights Tracker for E-Commerce

Many organizations and universities have launched platforms that help people track the medical aspect of the virus, but very few have launched useful trackers monitoring the economic impact.

ccinsight is the first tool of its kind that gives economists, policy makers, and businesses an insight into how COVID-19 is affecting consumer spending on a daily basis in different industry sectors and geographical locations across the world.

E-commerce is a useful indicator of overall economic performance, and so ccinsight paints a picture of consumer purchasing behavior through Emarsys’ analysis of aggregated and anonymous e-commerce revenue, number of orders by customers, average order values, types of items purchased, and more. You can compare trends and snapshots of behavior with “normal” activity from before COVID-19 and compare how online sales are changing on a daily basis.

A few other companies have launched similar tools over the past few days. All of them are obviously designed to shed light on the ever-changing situation, so ours is purposefully different:

  • It’s always up to date: The situation is changing so quickly that anything that gives you data from even a week ago is already out of date. Ours updates using daily data so you can understand what the situation is now.
  • We focus on accuracy: ccinsight draws on anonymous data from more than a billion engagements and 400 million transactions across 120 countries to ensure that the information you’re getting is solid.
  • It’s interactive and easy to use: We want to ensure that you get the most relevant information as quickly as possible — and so have made the tool interactive and intuitive (rather than simply displaying charts and graphs on a static landing page).

The site goes further than just data. It’s also a crowdsourcing community hub, and we’re encouraging all users — whether you’re an economist, government worker, business owner, or digital marketer — to publish your own advice and insights to help others.

Making Decisions Based on Certain Data in Uncertain Times

Together, the world will beat this crisis. It’ll be tough, but we will come out the other side. What’s key now, though, is the action we all take. Economic, governmental, and business decisions have always been stronger when they’re based on data, and now we need data more than ever to navigate tough times and to make the toughest of decisions.

We understand how important getting the right information to the right person is. Therefore, if you work for a company that has access to data that would improve and expand this tool, we’d love to talk to you to get you involved. Never before has open collaboration been more important.

To learn out more about ccinsight, or to work directly with the project, please contact us at: community@ccinsight.org

Coronavirus

How Emarsys Can Support You in This Time of Turmoil

For many of us, this is a time of unprecedented turmoil, and while we may worry about things beyond our control, I want to assure you that Emarsys is ready to help you manage the things you and your business can control.

Emarsys is proud to be a core partner for thousands of brands around the world. We know that you rely on us for many of your key customer communication channels and that maintaining your ability to stay in touch with your customers is of the utmost importance during a time of uncertainty. Rest assured that we remain just as focused on your success today, and will throughout this period of turmoil, as we have at any other time. Your trust in us remains our greatest privilege.

No Down Time

The careful thought and effort we’ve invested over the years into building a resilient infrastructure for our customers puts us in a strong position to meet your needs today.

With multiple data centers in various regions around the world, we have the best cloud-based systems and ample redundancy to ensure our platform is available for you 24/7. And our experienced staff are here for you no matter the time of day or the region of your operations. 

On-Going Support

To ensure the safety of our employees and our customers, and to prevent any disruption to our people-powered services, all Emarsys employees have been equipped with secure laptops and trained for working remotely from home. While travel and in-person meetings have been reduced to a minimum, our staff is ready to stay in touch with clients via video and teleconferencing. In medium- and high-risk locations, we are actively encouraging employees to work remotely. Emarsys offices are also regularly treated with additional disinfection substances. Our employees have been advised to take protective hygiene measures and disinfectant hand wash gels have been distributed.

Business Continuity

While this is certainly not a business-as-usual environment, we understand that our clients need to focus on maintaining stability in their businesses and that frequent, personalized communication with their customers continues to be a core requirement.

As always, it is our privilege to enable our clients to meet the needs of their businesses and their customers. Our team and our platform are prepared to respond to your requirements for agility and creativity in a challenging environment.

How Emarsys Leadership Is Taking Action

We are continuously monitoring the situation and have prepared alternative processes for all critical activities (from system operations to support and critical administrative processes). Our leadership team is holding weekly meetings to ensure we remain agile and prevent any disruptions to your business. We will continue to share updates as the situation evolves.

Contact Information

If you have any questions or concerns during this period we encourage you to contact us directly. We’re here 24/7 and ready to help our clients to keep serving their customers. We thank you for your continued trust in Emarsys.

You can contact us at any time via Zendesk, phone or email: https://help.emarsys.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003325469-Help-and-Support-at-Emarsys.

Our full Business Continuity Summary for COVID-19 is available upon request. Please contact your client success manager.

 

Additional COVID-19 Resources:

ema_blog_b2c_5_1920x1000px-13

The New Age of Travel: Challenging the Status Quo [Infographic]

With year-over-year growth of 5% in 2016, the travel industry has a huge opportunity to capitalize on the increase in “experience spending” among travelers.

twitterY-O-Y growth in #travel is approximately 5% — capitalize on the new age of travel [Infographic] ✈️   CLICK TO TWEET

With 70% of millennials opting to spend money on memorable experiences rather than tangible items, and 43% of business travelers expanding their trips to include time for leisure, the opportunity to win new, loyal customers is great.

But with new opportunities come new expectations. Customers continue to expect a more personalized experience from all marketers, and the travel industry is no exception. This infographic elaborates on how to take control of and personalize the entire travel journey.

travel infographic

If you can find a way to harness the increasing amounts of customer data available, you can use it to show your customers that you understand their intentions, interests, and expectations for travel.

This insight – and, more importantly, what you do with it – can transform your customers’ travel experiences from what they’ve come to expect as the status quo to a pleasantly surprising and extraordinary memory.

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omnichannel

How Long Is Too Long to See Value in Marketing Tech?

There is a reason why marketers get nervous when choosing a new tech solution. Sure, they’re worried about implementation and integration, and they want it to be over as fast and as painlessly as possible. But with most marketing clouds out there, it’s not painless and it’s rarely fast.

Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, and IBM are the biggest players out there, and though marketers often feel herded toward these chosen few — as if they are the only sources of innovation — they often don’t question the “value” part, as if it’s the cost of doing business to go with one of the big cloud names.

What you don’t hear people talking about is just how difficult implementing these clouds can be, especially when you’re not only integrating all your disparate touchpoints but you’re buying an entirely new suite of features and capabilities. The more features you have available, the longer it will take your team to learn them all, and, hence, the longer your time to value will be.

Time-to-Value Averages

Let’s say you’re looking at buying a platform with basic functionality. In theory, it could take a few weeks to turn it on, but if there is any work your developers have to do, those weeks will quickly become months. In those cases, a handful of features could take three to six months just to get running. Add in advanced features beyond a basic package, and you could spend a year or two integrating the platform with all of your data points before you can truly begin launching automations.

Here’s a typical timeline to value for plain marketing tech:

  • Planning to acquire tech = 1-2 months
  • Implementing and configuring new tech = 1-3 months
  • Training, data entry, automation, analytics, content publishing, etc. = 3-6 months

Each piece of tech has a time to value. How long will it be from the moment you purchase the new tech until you’re able to use it to connect with customers, make some sales, and see growth results?When you add it all up, the best-case scenario with basic features has a time to value of 5 to 11 months. If you go beyond basics, time to value can take up to two or three years.

While the best brands see around 36% revenue growth and 31% profit growth (as shown below), the average is 27% and 25%, respectively, which is still hefty growth that any brand would want to achieve.

Revenue and profit

WHY WAIT 90 DAYS WHEN YOU CAN LAUNCH EFFECTIVE MARKETING PROGRAMS IN 1 DAY?

Types of Time to Value

Time to basic value is the bare minimum of time it takes for tech to bring in new revenue or profit, and as mentioned above, the absolutely fastest TTV could occur within 5 months of planning. However, many brands buy more than the basic package, and each additional set of features adds months to the TTV.

Here are a few other kinds of TTV to think about:

  • Time to Basic Value: How long it takes to see any kind of value from the newly implemented tech. Even though it may still be awhile until you see more results on a bigger scale, this TTV stage is important to keep things moving forward smoothly.
  • Immediate Time to Value: This is the fastest TTV possible and like Time to Basic Value, it sends a critical message to everyone involved, that the tech is already delivering results. As technology continues to evolve, we will see more platforms who can offer immediate activation of the tech post-implementation.
  • Time to Exceeded Value: This is just as important as the Immediate Time to Value, because when you exceed the expectations of integrating software, you make an incredible impression on your team and the C-suite, which translates into more efficient workflows and future rollouts.
  • Long Time to Value: “Long” here is relative. Depending on the technology, a long TTV could be six months or two to three years. The salient thing to remember here is that most marketing platforms have a Long Time to Value. You’ll want tech with a much shorter TTV.

The Risks of Lengthy TTVs

If you take too long to get your innovative new product up and running, you miss out on revenue growth, but it depends on how you look at it. A Sopheon study found that 79% of new products do not launch on time. That means over three-fourths of companies are late to market with innovations, which leaves a lot of room for improvement.

According to an IBMSystem study, 25% of technology initiatives completely fail. 20-25% also fail to show any ROI. The same study also shows that as much as half of all tech projects have to be significantly modified after they’re implemented, which only increases your TTV.

A McKinsey survey also shows that 71% of major tech projects go over budget before TTV is reached, and the greater that amount is, the harder it is to ever reach TTV.

The quicker you get your TTV completed, the more sales, revenue, and profit you’ll see, and what’s perhaps most important is that you can beat your competitors (or at least three-fourths of them) if you streamline your post-implementation process. If you take too long, your competitors can get their foot in the door and win your customers away from you.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire success of a company (especially SMBs) may ride on how fast the tech works. If your TTV is too lengthy, how likely is it that the client will renew their contract? Every single day counts because it could be the difference between weeks and years or between revenue growth and lost opportunities.

READY TO GET VALUE OUT OF YOUR TECH IN DAYS, NOT MONTHS?

Best Ways to Cut Down on TTV

While there are many things about tech integration that you have no control over, there are other areas in the post-implementation period where you can reduce your TTV.

Identify What You Want Your Platform to Do

What’s the main objective you want your marketing technology to achieve? You have to start at the top and work your way down through the best strategies to achieve that objective. Within each strategy, there will be proven tactics. For overall revenue growth, you’ll want a strategy like increasing Average Order Value (AOV) or increasing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

Unfortunately, many marketing organizations become hyper-focused on the features and tactics first. It’s only after they’ve been running campaigns for months that they discover the tactics-first method didn’t deliver what they expected. While they may have hit a kind of time to value (in that the tech has enabled them to run campaigns), it’s simply not enough value to have made the whole endeavor worthwhile.

Define the Timeline

A critical part of any plan is the timeline. Implementation can usually be completed in three months on average, but beyond that, you may not know how to measure the length of TTV or what the phases will even be.

That’s why it’s important to at least come up with some milestone markers. What does the process look like a month after implementation? Two months? Three or four? If you’re still trying to determine TTV after five months, then something’s probably wrong. Marketing software and platforms really shouldn’t have to take that long, not with so many technological advancements at our fingertips.

Training

Onboarding is another area where the smoother and more complete the training is, the shorter the tech’s time to value will be. A reputable platform company should have loads of content and tutorials to share with your e-commerce marketing team, and the best ones provide service teams that are a phone call or an email away. Here’s where your ability to educate the team makes a huge impact on proving the new tech was worth the investment.

Embedded Knowledge and Use Cases

At some point, all the promises that have been made about a piece of tech have to be proven true or false. Slide decks and talk aren’t the determining factors. One thing that many CMOs and Marketing Directors see as proof are use cases. They want to know how the tech worked for those brands who invested ahead of them, and today’s newest platforms should include industry-specific case studies already built into the platform, which makes it possible to choose the best strategies quickly and activate campaigns in days, not weeks.

Final Thoughts

Time to value is something that has applied to many businesses for years, especially companies who make specific products, whether that’s mittens or vehicles. In marketing, TTV is less transparent, which is a confusing problem when you have to upgrade or move to a different platform yesterday. However, by taking a long view of acquiring tech, starting with the objectives you want to achieve, and then matching that up with the most suitable tech available, you will start to gauge time in a whole new and more useful way as it relates to tech.

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WANT MORE ON MAKING TIME TO VALUE WORK FOR YOUR MARKETERS?

E,marsys

What Does Benchmarketing Mean?

As marketing leaders, we’re always looking for a way to make a serious impact. An impact on our customers and, ultimately, on our business. The pressures of succeeding in the organization as a marketing leader have also mounted. We’re often fighting an uphill battle when it comes to proving our worth as a marketing organization.

But marketing doesn’t have to be like this.

With all of the tools and data available to us, it’s time for marketers to make a change. To leave behind our old way of doing things — of looking at and reporting on the same metrics over and over again — and start showing our organizations that we should be considered one of the most strategic assets in the business.

How can we do this? Marketers need to shift from focusing only on the channel-specific, operational KPIs we’ve come to know and plaster on every board report and instead emphasize strategic KPIs that actually impact our business.

We can do this by taking a traditional part of marketing one step further. Let’s go from benchmarking to benchmarketing. In this article, we’ll discuss what benchmarketing means, how businesses can use it to their advantage, and different tools that can help us execute against this methodology.

What Is Benchmarketing?

We’ve all heard of benchmarking. It’s an important part of any marketing strategy. Understanding how your business compares to others in your industry can help you not only gauge how your business is doing, but also understand areas of improvement for your own strategy.

But what about Benchmarketing? This is a term you may have heard thrown around in the marketing space. Basically it means benchmark marketing. But the idea behind benchmarketing is to take the benchmark reports we all know and love one step further: We should be using strategic KPIs that go beyond operational and channel-specific metrics and give us a better understanding of how marketing is actually impacting a business.

Why Is Benchmarketing So Important?

Most benchmark reports we come across offer us benchmarks on email (open rates, click-through rates, sends) or social media (number of followers, likes, retweets). But what do these metrics actually tell us about how we’re performing as a business and how our business compares to others? They don’t. They give us a surface-level indication of how our channels are working.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that operational and channel-specific KPIs aren’t important. They are. As I mentioned, they give us a view of how our customers are interacting with our channels. But when it comes to showing the value of our work and understanding how marketing is performing for a business as a whole, they don’t provide enough information.

This is where strategic KPIs come in to play. These metrics can actually give us an indication of how our marketing work can make an impact on our business. For marketers, this is often an incredibly hard (if not impossible) task to do. Most marketers feel like they have trouble connecting their day-to-day work to business results. And unfortunately, the C-suite often notices the lack of connection marketing has to the bottom line.

But by focusing on strategy KPIs that actually align to business goals, you can use benchmark data to influence your marketing strategy and plan out the best strategies for your business.

Examples of Benchmarketing

So I’ve mentioned benchmarketing with strategic KPIs, but what do those KPIs look like? As a business, your company probably has high-level objectives that you’re obligated to meet. For e-commerce businesses, that usually consists of goals like revenue and customer growth.

As a marketer, revenue and customer growth may seem out of reach. But at the end of the day, why are you sending emails, creating website pop-ups, and creating Instagram ads? You’re doing this to generate purchases from your customers, and purchases can grow your customer base and eventually turn into revenue growth. So as a marketer, you’re closer to touching these metrics than you think.

The problem here is that too many marketers look to the channel-specific benchmarks to compare how they are doing to other businesses like them. Instead of focusing on those metrics, compare how your business is doing compared to others with strategic KPIs. This gives you the opportunity to identify what strategies other businesses are using to impact their business goals.

Do you see a strategy that you’re not focused on? Or find that your marketing strategy is too tactic-focused? Use benchmarketing as inspiration to plan out and execute a new and better marketing strategy.

This will also help marketers stop focusing on tactics (like Abandoned cart emails) first. By focusing on strictly tactics, we’re missing the opportunity to connect our work to a greater strategy that can actually impact the high-level objectives we’ve identified above. Instead, marketers should look at strategy KPIs first and then plan out the tactics that best fit into and compliment those strategies.

Let’s look at some of the strategic KPIs that other e-commerce businesses are using to tie their marketing back to revenue and customer growth.

Identify the strategic KPIs most important to your business

Revenue Growth

When it comes to revenue growth, marketers have several strategies that can help impact this incredibly important business goal.

Increase Conversion Rate

When thinking about strategies that can impact revenue growth, Increase conversion rate is one of the best strategies. By focusing in on converting the contacts that are already interacting with your brand, you can increase purchases and, in turn, increase revenue.

Customer Lifetime Value Increase

Another strategy many e-commerce businesses focus on is Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) increase. By focusing on the entire lifecycle of the customer (not just converting them to their first purchase), marketers can make each customer a more valuable asset to their business. When you grow your CLTV, you’re not only growing purchase rate and frequency, but also growing revenue.

Increase Purchase Frequency

Another method for turning up revenue growth is to focus in on purchase frequency. Much like the above strategies, this strategy allows marketers to make each customer more valuable by converting them to purchase more often. If you’re not focused on increasing the frequency that your customers are buying, you’re not effectively impacting revenue growth.

Customer Growth

Moving on to customer growth, marketers should have a huge focus on this metric. After all, as marketers our goal is to attract customers and delight them to the point of purchase. The problem many marketers have is that after we get them to convert, we tend to mishandle the relationship. We’re so focused on customer acquisition that we forget how important customer retention is. But customer retention should be a main focus to continue growing your business.

Let’s dig in to the strategies that other successful e-commerce businesses are using to drive customer growth.

Increase Lead to First-Time Buyer Conversion

In order to focus on retention, you need to have a pool of existing customers. One way to grow your customer base is to increase lead to first-time buyer conversion. By focusing on this strategy, marketers are able to build their pool of customers and begin to set the groundwork for growing a loyal customer base.

Increase First-Time Buyers to Repeat Buyers

As mentioned above, acquisition is only one part of customer growth. Customer retention is a bigger, often times more important, piece of the puzzle because it’s a lot cheaper to retain your customers than to attract new ones. Companies that focus on increasing their repeat buyers are making a bigger impact on the overall success of their company. By mining and turning your existing customers into repeat purchasers, you’re creating a loyal community that can help your business grow.

Retain Active Customers

Again, customer retention is a major focal point for e-commerce businesses. Successful marketing teams know that the key to keeping up in the fiercely competitive e-commerce space is to keep customers happy, engaged, and purchasing. That means that marketers need to understand the buying cycle of each of their customers and work to prevent active customers from falling off.

Just by identifying these strategies as important metrics to benchmark, you’re giving your marketing organization an edge on many businesses in the e-commerce space. As mentioned before, most marketers are looking at operational and channel-specific KPIs to gauge their success in the space. But the reality is, those metrics only give us one piece of the pie. Marketers need to understand how they compare to others more strategically if they want to make a true impact on their business.

Benchmark your way to success with the right KPIs

Benchmarketing in Business: How to Do It

So now that you understand what kinds of KPIs can actually connect marketing results to business, let’s look at how you might do this in your own business.

If your CEO identified customer growth as a main target for your business, as the leader in marketing, you need to identify different strategies that can best impact that objective.

From the section above, you’ve already identified that top e-commerce businesses in your space are focused on growing their customer base by Increasing first-time buyers to repeat buyers. If this isn’t something you’re focused on, or if it’s something you’re underperforming in compared to your competitors, then it’s worth digging deeper into this strategy.

Once you’ve identified a strategy you want to either focus on or improve, now is the time to begin thinking about what the best tactics are to help execute this strategy and make a true impact on your business.

Let’s focus in on Replenishment for this example. This tactic is a great way to convert customers repeatedly on an item that is only good for so long. Whether you sell running shoes or makeup, Replenishment is a great way to keep customers engaged with your brand by offering them the opportunity to repurchase their favorite item right when they’ll be needing another.

If you’re a beauty brand and a customer purchases a certain type of mascara, replenishment messages are a great way to remind a customer that it’s time to grab their next product so they don’t run out. You can use purchasing data from your existing repeat buyers to understand how often customers purchase this product and create a replenishment timeline that can trigger once a customer has reached the point of needing to repurchase.

To simplify, this is what your campaign would break down to look like:

  • Objective: Customer growth
  • Strategy: Increase first-time buyers to repeat buyers
  • Tactic: Replenishment

This is just one example of how you can use benchmarketing in your business to identify and execute against strategic KPIs that will actually impact the high-level objectives of your business.

 

Essential Benchmarketing Tools

Now that we’ve outlined what benchmarketing means and how you can use it in your business, let’s look at a few tools that can help you execute this methodology.

 

Google Analytics

If you’re not already using Google Analytics in your business, it’s time to start. This tool is great for helping you build a picture of the customers and contacts you have engaging with you on a regular basis. It can even help you identify your competitors in the space — a crucial part of benchmarketing. Before you can begin comparing your business to others, you need to understand who your competitors are and if you’re competing for the same customers. This is just the tip of what GA can do, but it’s an important part of getting started with successful benchmarketing.

Benchmarketing.io

Bencharketing.io is an awesome tool for identifying both channel-specific and strategic KPIs. This tool is unique in that it allows marketers to identify different strategies and KPIs and then uncover the tactics that best impact these strategies. This allows marketers to actually connect their day-to-day work with the high-level objectives of the business, finally giving them the ability to showcase their impact on the business. This tool is completely free, only requiring an email address for signup.

Final Thoughts

As marketers, we understand how important it is to gauge our success against those around us. But too often, we get stuck looking at the same benchmark reports, from the same companies that focus too heavily on channel-specific metrics that don’t tell us much about our business. So what if our competitor has a higher open rate on emails than we do? They may have a higher open rate, but that doesn’t mean that their customers are purchasing more than ours or that their emails are helping impact the bottom line.

In today’s marketing landscape, marketers must shift our attention from traditional benchmarking reports to next-generation benchmarketing. By making this shift, we’re helping our departments by definitively connecting our traditional marketing work to the strategies and high-level objectives that matter most in a business.

Are you ready to try benchmarketing on for size in your business?



Ready to uncover the metrics that matter most to your business? Sign up for Benchmarketing.io for free!

Close Up of woman hands using mobile phone and laptop computer with blank copy space screen for your advertising text message or content business in the Vintage effect.

Email Icebreakers: 4 Creative Ways to Start Conversations with Subscribers

Email is among the most flexible and versatile tools in the marketer’s repertoire. However, it often gets relegated to just a few use cases: event and product promotion, transactional confirmations, content distribution, and several others.

It makes sense; after all, email is really good for those missions. But it’s too frequently overlooked as a prime way to start meaningful discussions that evolve into engagement and loyalty.

twitter“#Email is overlooked as a way to start convos that evolve into #engagement & #loyalty,” says @MMtwopointfive CLICK TO TWEET

The new front in the war for customers’ attention and favor has shifted to the customer experience. 9 in 10 companies now say they “compete primarily on the basis of customer experience.”

When subscribers feel heard and are engaged on a personal level, they’ll be more likely to return. But just like “real life,” starting a conversation via email can be easier said than done. Fortunately, marketers have plenty of email marketing tools at their disposal to break the ice and begin a dialogue.

Start with Your Best Pickup Line

If you want to develop lasting, ongoing conversations with your audience, it’s best to start them as early as possible. For email marketers, that usually means the welcome email.

A welcome email or series of emails is your best opportunity to set the tone for your subscriber relationship. These messages often have 4x the open rate and 5x the click-through rate of other marketing emails. After all, your subscriber has just volunteered their contact information and agreed to get emails from you. They’re primed for engagement — strike while the iron’s hot!

Pack your welcome emails with plenty of personalization and ways for openers to respond. This can give you valuable information to tailor future content and offers, and conditions subscribers to keep opening future messages.

Related Content: Are You An Email Marketing Power User? How to Step Up Your Game: Elliot Ross [Podcast]

Chuck E. Cheese’s invites openers to continue engaging by downloading their app, managing their rewards account, and following on social. Their email also dynamically populates the address and contact information of the nearest or preferred brand location, so new subscribers can directly call and ask questions or book an event.

Dynamic Personalization

Related Content: Email Personalization: Automating Email Content at Scale – Matt Hayes [Podcast]

Replace or Support Your Message with Video

Need to have a really important, impactful conversation with subscribers? Copy and design can go a long way, but sometimes a more lively, more human medium is more effective for getting a must-see message across.

In some situations, video may be the ideal channel for your needs, especially if you’re trying to elicit an emotional response, generate buzz and excitement, or broach a sensitive subject.

Marketers have been taking advantage of the power of digital video for a long time. But historically they haven’t been able to transfer the life, vibrancy, and sound of video to email.

Fortunately, that trend is changing. Creative technology has opened the door to embedding real video directly into your emails. And just like video is great for kicking off discussions on your website, social channels, blogs, paid ads and more, it’s equally effective for beginning dialogue in email.

Humana used video to great effect to support an email bringing up a very important (and potentially sensitive) topic. By leading with a video featuring a kind and caring medical professional, the insurer was able to bring up breast cancer in a softer, more empathetic manner than simple text or images could achieve.

Humana

Ask Questions with Embedded Polls

Want to hear what your subscribers think? Ask them!

Pointed questions are a great way to kick off a discussion. But you probably don’t want a flood of individual replies piling into your inbox. It’s not scalable, and you’ll have a hard time turning the responses into meaningful data.

Instead, consider embedding a simple poll into your emails to see what your audience really thinks. Using a poll inside an email has several advantages over sending a link to a web-based poll. It keeps your subscribers within the email experience you’ve carefully designed and minimizes click-through attrition. Plus it makes it easy to attribute responses to specific user profiles tied to a particular email.

Here’s a great example of a simple, sweet Mother’s Day-themed email poll from Kroger:

poll from Kroeger

Some best practices for using embedded email surveys:

  • Limit your inquiries to one or two per email. You can always follow up with more questions in future messages.
  • Offer an incentive. Give people a reason to respond, like a special offer or an improved experience.
  • Consider displaying live survey results to subscribers once they’ve answered. People love seeing how their responses compare to others’ and showing the poll results of a large audience helps build a sense of community.
twitter“When embedding #email surveys, limit inquiries to 1-2, & offer an incentive to complete it,” says @MMtwopointfive CLICK TO TWEET

Request (and Show Off) User-Generated Content

How about making your subscribers the star of the show?

It’s much easier to get responses and submissions from subscribers when it means they get to be in the spotlight. Soliciting and featuring UGC is one of the simplest ways to earn engagement, build community, and get customers excited to interact with your brand.

American Eagle Outfitters offers phenomenal inspiration for incorporating UGC within marketing content. The clothing brand invites customers to submit their best photos and videos styling AEO products and features recent community submissions in their emails. One campaign moves the conversation to social channels, where the brand can be more immediately responsive and interactive.

User-Generated Content

Final Thoughts

Boosting email engagement is a key area of focus. Since email is the primary channel for most high-performing e-commerce brands, the competition to win in the inbox has never been higher. Use engaging pickup lines, personalization, interactive video, polls, and user-generated content to help achieve that goal.

Handpicked Related Content:

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3 Important Retention Marketing Strategies Every Retailer Needs to Know

Retention marketing is the new way of the e-commerce world. It requires a mind shift that must be made, though. Marketers have to begin to understand how to create more loyalty among those customers whom they’ve already earned instead of over-investing or risking resources in trying to find so much “new.”

If you haven’t heard it before, know this: your existing customers actually offer the ripest opportunities for further monetization. Our recent infographic, focusing on turning first time buyers into active customers, shows that you have only a 27% chance of a customer returning after one purchase… but a 54% chance of them returning after a second or third purchase. Another study by Gartner revealed that 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of their existing customers.

Retention truly represents the most lucrative investment for modern e-commerce teams looking to break away from the accepted status quo!

In this post, we’ll share three retention marketing strategies that you can mix and match to find the right combination that works for your personalized marketing plan. Used with a retention mindset, email can change your business, so, if you’re ready to expand your email marketing strategy to more poignantly target existing customers, listen up!

Editor’s Note: You shouldn’t be throwing around these tactics at random. Ensure they’re a strategic part of your customer lifecycle marketing strategy and that they align with your business objectives.

1. Be Sure Your Personalization Is Up To Date

Go about your retention efforts as you would a new friendship. The best companies take customer relationship-building extremely seriously and become the go-to resource in the industry for not only products, but also information and education. The point I’m trying to make is this: you’re creating a real, ongoing relationship with each individual customer. The long road to retention is paved with bricks of personalized marketing.

It’s critical that you take the time, energy, and effort to intimately learn about the interests and preferences of each of these relationships. It’s a two-way communion; you must to get to know one another better!

Those of an acquisition-only mindset may rarely stop to think, “How can we lovingly engage those we already have?” But since you’re reading this article, I’ll assume that’s not you. You want the trusting, loyal, long-term relationship.

How?

Leverage behavioral data. If you can analyze consumers’ browsing and purchasing patterns to provide tailored product recommendations, you can create an experience that fosters brand loyalty. Mytheresa makes it feel like product recommendations are customized for each individual:

Start with email at the core. Ensure you have a good preference center in place so that new and long-time subscribers are able to adjust the frequency and types of content they want to get from you.

Don’t overlook the power of your e-newsletter. It’s perhaps the most versatile vehicle in your arsenal. With an opted-in database, a quality e-newsletter and access to the right automation technology can help you create a world of incredible value. Bowlero’s preference center was created with a retention-based mindset, asking subscribers for their mobile information (as their core audience prefers to engage via mobile):

Use case

As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon understands this point – they rank among the very highest for customer service, in spite of their extraordinarily high order rate of receiving and processing over 35 orders worldwide per second. Amazon has embraced personalization through every piece of the consumer journey, which has in turn resulted in high customer retention rates. 96% of Amazon customers that have subscribed to their Amazon Prime service for two years will renew for a third year.

Another tip: truly leverage social media – not just to accumulate a following and build relationships at the top of the funnel, but through it, and for after purchase, too.

JTurner

“Social media is [actually] best used as a customer retention tool. Here’s an example: people don’t follow a brand on social media first and then buy their products second. It actually happens the other way around! Think of social media as a customer acquisition tool instead of a customer retention tool – this is the secret to social media. And it’s one of the most important customer retention strategies e-commerce companies should embrace.”

Jamie Turner • Author, Speaker, and CEO of 60 Second Marketer  • @AskJamieTurner

twitter“#SocialMedia is best used as a #customer #retention tool,” says @AskJamieTurner” CLICK TO TWEET

CRM retargeting ads are one method of retargeting across the GDN which can be completely customized based on past purchase history. Start thinking outside the box when it comes to social.

2. Post-Purchase Emails

First-time to active buyer campaigns can’t be overlooked – they encourage or incentivize existing customers to return and shop again. Getting a first-time buyer to repeat isn’t easy (and you may not get a second chance). 70%-80% of a typical e-commerce business’ customers are single-order customers. So, you have to ensure that you optimize the post-purchase experience to drive that second purchase.

How?

You’ll want to use what you do know about each customer at their specific stage to make personalized offers (related items) including a personalized incentive to drive toward another purchase. Luisaviaroma, saw a 37.5% increase in post-purchase campaign conversions. Outnorth, an outdoor Scandinavian clothing brand, saw a 25% uplift from first-time buyer programs!

Good post-purchase content includes helpful content, relevant offers, and timely information related to previous purchases. Make the purchase process a seamless experience, positioning cross- and up-sells as an added convenience to enhance the quality and improve the function of whatever was just bought.

It’s important to follow up in a non-intrusive way where customers are opted-in to receive communications from you (whether email, SMS, mobile app, etc.).

RubinHeadshot

“...If you plan to recommend products or services based on a customer’s purchase patterns, be sure that you’re offering items that customers might actually want to purchase. Transaction-based thinking says the job is done once money changes hands. Relationship-based thinking says you might want to check in to see whether the customer is enjoying their purchase, and find out if there’s anything you can do to help them make the most of it. This is especially true for major purchases, but it’s a great way to stay top-of-mind no matter what. If you want loyal customers, show them some loyalty from your end, too!”

Ted Rubin • CMO, Photofy, Co-Founder of Prevailing Path, and Acting CMO and Host of Brand Innovators Summits@TedRubin

twitter“If you want loyal #customers, show them some loyalty from your end too,” says @TedRubin CLICK TO TWEET

Really, all you need to do here is restructure and retarget campaigns you already send to existing customers. It takes a bit of effort and a lot of creativity, but it is a vital piece to include in any retention marketing repertoire.

3. Set Up Special Reward Programs for Loyal Customers

Successful loyalty programs offer unique benefits for paying members and high spenders… in more ways than just one. And today, being data-driven and running a high-performing loyalty program go hand in hand.

It’s easy to spin up a loyalty program and even a loyalty app. But it takes a strategic, well-planned approach to do so in conjunction with all the customer data you have in your database. It is this two-pronged component that will enable more personalized experiences for your most devoted customer segment.

How?

Good loyalty programs require a lot of backend work from your entire organization. These programs are, in essence, a combination of the following pieces:

  • Orchestration of a seamless customer experience by your digital marketing team or e-commerce manager
  • A well-thought-out tiered, pronged, or leveled approach based on your organizational objectives
  • Creation of consistent, engaging, personalized content by your content team
  • Marshaling all of your resources and centralizing all of your customer data from a unified platform
  • Monitoring each loyalty member’s specific stage in their lifecycle

For most e-commerce brands, essential pieces include: a mobile app that’s easy to engage with, a centralized customer data platform, and a personalization engine that can recognize who visitors are based on previous interactions.

Use case

Sephora, a luxury cosmetic retailer, has created a high-performing membership program. Their program is a merit-based one that separates consumers into three different membership tiers: Beauty Insider, VIB and VIB Rouge. Each tier hosts its own set of exclusive rewards.

The reason this retention marketing strategy is so effective is that they use certain yearly-spend thresholds that need to be reached in order for a customer to increase the membership status. The rewards in the highest tier (VIB Rouge) are so appealing to consumers that it provides a heightened incentive to spend more so they can breach the price threshold. This extremely successful loyalty program has nurtured 11 million members that spend 15 times more money on Sephora.com than the average user.

Final Thoughts

Retention marketing is too critical for marketers to ignore. B2C and e-commerce marketers must adapt and change to adopt this new principle in order to stay relevant and create personalized marketing strategies that cater to their customers.

Retaining existing customers is one of the most critical activities to focus on. Without it, you’re left trying to rack up a bunch of one-and-done buyers. But with it, you have a highly-engaged, loyal database of brand fans.

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Using WeChat to Find Success with Your Holiday Marketing

For many marketers, it’s easy to associate “holiday marketing” with the end-of-year holidays that fall in December. But holiday marketing shouldn’t be a concept we reserve for these year-end events, rather we should look at key season events throughout the year as a way to connect and engage further with our customers.

Too many brands focus on holidays with batch-and-blast campaigns targeting their entire audience, but holiday activity should be part of a year-round focus delivering personalised experiences to individuals on occasions they care about.

Any engagement should be part of a well-planned program mapped out up to a year in advance with promotions timed to coincide with milestone dates, such as International Women’s Day, Mother’s and Children’s Day, Father’s Day, and Singles Day, along with traditional Western occasions now becoming popular in the East, such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day. For even more personalisation, you can add the customer’s own milestones such as a birthday or wedding anniversary.

Brands enjoying success in Mainland China connect with their customers through many mediums, creating a journey across multiple touchpoints rather than just one-off connections. And along that journey, WeChat is especially important.

As we highlight in our latest WeChat whitepaper One Billion Customers Can’t be Wrong, developing and executing a WeChat program for your brand is essential.

So how can brands use WeChat to further their omnichannel experience with customers during the holidays?

Combining Traditions with Technology

When planning out a new strategy for any seasonal event, it’s beneficial to look back on successful holiday campaigns and zero in on what made them work so well. For the recent Chinese New Year, many brands found success by combining traditional customs with WeChat technology.

One of the fastest-growing means of interaction was through the traditional “Hongbao” – red packets. Alipay AR Hongbao, for example, received a massive amount of attention after launching such a campaign, distributing 200 million RMB through the game and successfully signing up 120,000 new followers to their official Weibo account. Those results demonstrate how marketing during Chinese New Year matters to both small and big businesses. Various brands such as Procter & Gamble and KFC were quick to support the game afterwards.

The red packet concept can be tailored to deliver special offers personalised to the individual recipient or digital gift vouchers for your most loyal customers through the WeChat channel. Starbucks, for example, has used the tradition of red packets to reward customers with bonus points, through partnerships with WeChat.

In addition to reserving red packets for Chinese New Year, brands could use a tradition like sending red packets to enhance a user’s experience throughout the year. By tapping into your customer data and customer behaviour, you can create campaigns that offer special touches like this on special days such as a birthday. It would enhance the loyalty relationship between the consumers and the brands.

Brands can also enhance this experience by using their customer data to include discounts on items that a customer has previously viewed or have had on wish lists. This not only shows that a brand understands the importance of the holiday for the individuals but also the things they like.

Personalise the Holiday for the Customer

In the Starbucks example above, you saw how Starbucks was able to use a traditional Chinese New Year custom and tailor it to their loyal customers with bonus reward points. With WeChat, you’re able to match a user’s WeChat account with their online/offline data, giving you a complete picture of the person behind that data. Use this information to your advantage and tailor specific holiday deals and incentives directly to customers who truly care about it.

In the example below, we see how Swarovski was able to personalise experiences directly to their individual customers through their WeChat account.

In China, under the influences of the western holiday seasons, most of the shopping malls and stores were covered in Christmas decorations during December. Some brands also chose to launch Christmas campaigns via WeChat to increase the brand awareness and increase purchases happening in China.

During this season, advent calendars are popular, and Swarovski was a brand who launched their own advent calendar. In addition to their physical calendar, they also launched a digital version to promote this campaign via WeChat.

Every day, users could access a different mini-game through Swarovski’s digital advent calendar — which they needed to complete in order to receive the unique cards. Once the seven unique cards were collected, users would receive a Christmas gift from Swarovski. Within this mini-program, the users were offered the opportunity to directly buy the limited-edition advent calendar box through WeChat.

Offer Additional Incentives on Holiday Purchases

Another great way to create better experiences (and holiday campaigns) for your customers on WeChat is through added incentives. As a marketer, you’re regularly compelled to create holiday campaigns around deals. Customers love them, and they entice more sales for your campaign. One way to capitalise on incentives without necessarily slashing prices is by offering bonus items with purchase. This may come in the form of bonus points for a loyalty program or a bonus item that can help you move old inventory.

On Children’s Day, Bonpoint on WeChat offers its top 20 customers a travel bag if they purchase 1,000 RMB of skincare products. In addition, Chinese consumers can make the purchase directly via WeChat Pay.

Clarins launched a WeChat campaign for Mother’s Day, enticing users to leave voice messages for their mothers from the Clarins WeChat platform. If users did that, they would qualify for a free gift to collect in the Clarins stores later in the week. This campaign allowed users to actively interact with the brand by offering rewards to those who participated. At the same time, it encouraged users to go to physical stores where they could also have a chance to win additional prizes.

What Can You Do Right Now?

Chinese New Year may be over, but it is still a great time to start creating WeChat promotions and engagement for your brand for upcoming holidays. You can get started by doing the following:

  • Create a list of WeChat KPIs for the upcoming year: It’s important to identify the KPIs you’re looking to track before kicking off a campaign. Goals ensure you have one target to work toward and will get the entire team on the same page.
  • Ensure you’re correctly capturing contacts: Without an accurate list of contacts, it’s hard to execute any tactics on any channel. Ensuring your contacts are being accurately captured is immensely important for creating marketing campaigns.
  • Integrate your WeChat communication with your other channels: It’s important to note that WeChat can and should be used in conjunction with your other channels. It should be a channel that you incorporate into your strategy, and not a siloed marketing channel.
  • Analyse your customer base: Understanding your customers and the behaviours they display is incredibly important when planning out campaigns. The better you understand your customers, the better you can target them for engagement and conversion.

Unsure of how to get started on all of this? Emarsys can work with you to create a list of WeChat KPIs for the whole year, ensuring you capture contacts, integrate your WeChat communication with your other channels of engagement, and help you build a holistic behaviour analysis — all within a single platform.

We can achieve personalisation of all your organic WeChat content so you achieve a higher efficiency and targeted messaging through segmenting your contacts.

Interested in setting up other campaigns? Check out these tips for setting up marketing campaigns now that you can start testing and refining for upcoming holiday season success.

Final Thoughts

WeChat is a great channel to use when interacting with Chinese consumers especially during the holiday season. It is a “must-have” channel when you plan your future holiday campaigns.

However, it shouldn’t be the only channel you use to interact with consumers. Within holiday campaigns, an omnichannel approach that embraces both online and offline should be used to engage with consumers. In order to establish campaigns with different channels that work together, you need to have one platform where all data can be stored and analyzed. Marketers should not silo their WeChat channel from the rest of their marketing channels. When channels (and data) are siloed, a single channel loses the insights of the consumers’ complete behaviour.