7 Shopping Experience Tips to Make Holiday 2013 Your Best Ever

The holiday season is known as the time that makes or breaks companies dependent on seasonal sales. Competition is fierce. Already short attention spans are overstimulated with marketing messages, family demands and increased workloads. Breaking through the chaos requires more than super discounts and great copy. People expect a great shopping experience

The holiday season is known as the time that makes or breaks companies dependent on seasonal sales. Competition is fierce. Already short attention spans are overstimulated with marketing messages, family demands and increased workloads. Breaking through the chaos requires more than super discounts and great copy. People expect a great shopping experience.

Companies that want to win the holiday challenge start early, plan well and focus on the customer. They invest their resources in understanding what their customers want so they can deliver. Surprisingly, price is not the top priority when people choose brand loyalty. They care more about the experience than the discount.

This is really good news for companies that don’t have the negotiating power of big box stores. Instead of creating promotions that destroy profits, they can invest in programs that improve the shopping experience. There is one caveat: If your company has been participating in the “how low can we go” marketing strategy, you will have to retrain your customers. Once people have been trained to expect deep discounts, marketing that doesn’t include them won’t be as effective.

Marketing for the holiday season needs to start now to optimize your return. Connections have to be established between your company and the people who will buy your products or services. If you already have good customer relations, focus on making them better. If your relationships need improving, focus on fixing them. The things you do today make selling easier tomorrow. To get started:

  1. Think lifetime value when creating the shopping experience. Most marketing plans focus on sales for specific campaigns instead of looking at the long term value of loyal customers. This can create an environment where hit-and-run customers generate revenue while reducing profitability. By the time the problem is recognized, it may be too late to save the company.
  2. Walk in your customers’ shoes to find the pain points. The easier and more enjoyable you make the shopping experience, the less people care about the price. Test every marketing channel to see how easy it is to understand and navigate the buying process. When you have finished, watch someone who doesn’t normally shop your business test it. Fix everything that needs it.
  3. Integrate channels for efficiency and effectiveness. Consistent messaging and the ability to cross channels with ease provide quality branding and keep people engaged. Find ways to make the channels work together where they leverage strengths in one to offset weaknesses in others.
  4. Optimize communication to insure exposure and accessibility. Email deliverability, copy effectiveness, website usability and social media engagement can be optimized to maximize the return. Paying attention to the details makes the difference between a good communication and a great one.
  5. Educate visitors on products and processes. People that understand the products your company offers and how to use them tend to buy more. Create content that teaches the best ways to use products and services. Your prospects will convert and customers will keep coming back.
  6. Simplify Everything. Making the buying decision and purchasing process simple endears people to your company. Life is complicated. Shopping with your company shouldn’t be.
  7. Target to provide the right offer at the right time. Part of the simplification process is making it easy for people to buy what they need with minimal effort. Targeting people with the right message based on their behavior improves the shopping experience.

Purpose + Frequency + Free = Marketing Turnaround

If email marketing and social media results are not meeting your expectations, it may be time to shift direction. Today we share part two of our experience that transformed an email and social media marketing campaign with online video. Sales increased 20 percent using a strategy centered around purpose, frequency and free content marketing—with online video at the center of the program—to rebuild email marketing and social media engagement. It’s easy to get into a rut of using

If email marketing and social media results are not meeting your expectations, it may be time to shift direction. Today we share part two of our experience that transformed an email and social media marketing campaign with online video. Sales increased 20 percent using a strategy centered around purpose, frequency and free content marketing—with online video at the center of the program—to rebuild email marketing and social media engagement. It’s easy to get into a rut of using the same direct marketing approach over and over and expecting results to improve. But if it’s time to change direction, this strategy has proven itself to produce results.

We’ve achieved success by telling a story, in increments over time, using online video as the central messaging delivery vehicle.

Think of reading a book. The story is divided into chapters to help the reader know where one part of the story begins and ends, and each part leads to the next. Once all consumed, the entire story comes together with the sum being greater than the parts.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

In our last blog post, we introduced the concept of giving purpose to email, social media and other channels. We shared a marketing make-over that resulted in a sales increase of 20 percent. If you missed part one where we explain the importance of purpose, we encourage you to watch it now.

The three elements of the strategy we talk about in today’s video include:

  1. Creating purpose to your email and social media touch points
  2. Enabling frequency in reaching out to customers, donors and prospects
  3. Giving away content that’s free and builds confidence before making the purchase decision

Successful direct marketing should have purpose every time you reach out to connect with your installed base of customers or followers. Your email, social media and other channels can be transformed from a screaming “Buy me now! Here’s a discount! We can change your life!” campaign to “you’ll learn more about how the product is made” or “we’d like to earn your trust so get to know us better” or “take a behind-the-scenes look” or other transformational marketing messages.

Softer? Yes. And in our culture today, we’ve seen, firsthand, that it’s more effective.

A campaign that has purpose gives you permission for frequency.

A word about frequency: Like many of you, I’ve been in direct marketing for a long time. Whenever I’d hear that the secret sauce to making radio and television advertising a success was frequency, I’d roll my eyes.

You may look at the frequency pitch as just an excuse for radio and TV folks to sell more time and run up your cost. As direct marketers, we believe that if we mail an offer once, we’ll get most of the response in that first effort. Rarely does a second mailing produce more than the first mailing.

But we’ve learned the online space is different. When your message has purpose, with a story built through the use of video, it generates a reason for your touch points to become more frequent.

In the case history that we describe in today’s video blog, you’ll learn that we were fearful that frequency might result in email open and click-through declining. But the opposite happened. Once hooked, people looked forward to the next email or social media post to hear the continuation of the story. In fact, open and click-through rates increased substantially over what had been done in the past and those levels were maintained throughout the campaign.

Social media engagement soared because frequent posts meant friends shared the video with their friends. The Facebook metrics and reports that are available are a direct marketer’s dream. We were able to measure the viral effect of our video beyond our core group of fans.

With email and social media costs being relatively low, it means that with frequency your installed base of customers or followers spread your message on your behalf. And if you don’t have a large number of customers or followers, you can build that list faster with video.

The third key concept is a paradigm shift for those of us who are classically trained direct marketers. Over the years, we’ve always known that an offer of “free with purchase,” would increase response. Today we challenge you to shift “free with purchase,” to simply “free.” You may have heard it referred to as “content marketing.” Giving content away invites a prospective customer to build trust in you. Videos can tell the story of how your product is developed or you can interview real customers telling their real stories and testimonials.

In today’s video, we explain how giving away a 99 cent value item in exchange for a $56 average order increased sales by 20 percent.

With online tools and technology, you can create stories that are delivered on video. You’ll give purpose to email, social media and other vehicles. You will have permission from your installed base of customers and followers to contact them frequently. And when you give away something of value, you build trust and allow them to be more confident in their decision to purchase. When you combine purpose, frequency and free, it can transform and turnaround marketing approaches that are fatiguing or in a rut.

Also in today’s video, we share with you several ideas about topics you can use to create your own series of videos. If you’re struggling with ideas of how you’d use video using these three principles, tell us about your product or service in the comments below, or contact us directly. And for our loyal followers, we’ll freely share our ideas via email or a conference call of how a video series could make sense for you to engage your customers, donors or prospects.

In our next blog post, we’ll explain how to build your story, chapter-by-chapter so you can maximize the purpose/frequency/free content strategy.