Article | March 24, 2021
Who would have thought one-year ago that popular high-street stores would now be closing their doors for good? Or, that some of the country’s biggest brands would decide to focus solely on ecommerce?
Well, neither did we. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, that is exactly what has happened for many businesses, particularly within the fashion industry.
Now, we are living in a world completely dominated by social media and ecommerce, but what exactly does the future hold?
Here, we speak to Amelia Neate, Senior Manager at influencer marketing agency, Influencer Matchmaker, where she shares her predictions for the future of shoppable social media and social commerce.
The rise of ecommerce
As we have seen throughout the last 12 months or so, there has been a huge influx in the number of ecommerce businesses coming to the forefront of their respective industries. And this probably wouldn’t have happened without Covid-19. In fact, it definitely wouldn’t have.
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have had a tremendous impact on several industries and sectors, many of which have been negative. However, it has accelerated the growth of ecommerce by approximately four to six years.
And, following the closure of numerous brands within Arcadia Group and physical stores in the form of Debenhams, it is proof that brands must ensure they stay relevant and adapt to the ever-changing needs of their consumers.
Social commerce: why is it so important?
Not only has ecommerce taken a front seat recently, but we have now welcomed a new industry trend aboard. A similar concept to ecommerce, social commerce consists of the buying and selling of a product or service within a social media platform.
With the number of social media users continuing to rise, and with 53 million active social media users in the UK alone, it is no surprises that brands and businesses have implemented a brand-new strategy to help boost sales.
And, with 75% of businesses intending to dedicate an entire budget to influencer marketing throughout 2021, it makes perfect sense for them to be targeting their consumers more directly - which is exactly what social commerce does.
Social commerce was well on its way to success in 2019, way before the pandemic had even hit, having generated an impressive $22 billion in the US alone. Social media is no longer simply a place to be confronted with tailored and personalised ads, but is a destination to shop and make purchases, too.
Currently, Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) have a shoppable feature within their apps. This allows brands, businesses, and anyone else with a business account to link directly to a product within their image, taking consumers straight to the product page of their website.
What’s more, they are able to do all of that without even leaving the app they were originally on! Brands such as Zara and John Lewis are just two of the huge names that are utilising the apps and their new shoppable features.
In doing so, this allows consumers to shop and purchase products without having to sacrifice their time on social media.
We are all familiar with the likes of Instagram Stories and their popular swipe-up links. Well, this is taking it just that little bit further, and I don’t think it is going to stop there.
The future of social commerce
Shoppable social media is only going to become more widely used, and before we know it, we will be able to purchase an item with just one click – making it even more streamlined than it is currently.
With features such as IGTV, Guides and Reels becoming increasingly popular on Instagram, it won’t be long before we are replacing hyperlinks with direct purchase links here, too.
It comes as no surprise that currently, video is the preferred way to consume content, so just how long will it be until such features are integrated into the likes of YouTube and TikTiok?
My thoughts? It will happen sooner than we think.
Brands are continuing to steer away from traditional marketing methods and are working hard to build relationships with social media influencers to focus their budgets and campaigns on influencer marketing.
This is just the beginning for shoppable content and social commerce, and I for one, can’t wait to see where it takes us.
Article | March 24, 2021
Since Hubspot coined the term “inbound marketing,” every kind of business has been trying to get the coveted inbound lead. And why not? Inbound leads usually buy things more quickly, complain less about price, and renew more often.
As a freelancer, inbound leads are especially valuable. You don’t have a sales team and scaled up marketing efforts - it’s just you and your time. I know this firsthand, because I’ve had a nearly 100% inbound freelance business since day one. My business has been profitable since I started it and increased in revenue each year, all without needing to send cold pitches. In this blog post, I’m detailing the four factors that helped me build my inbound funnel, each one corresponding to a timeless law of freelancing from my book, The 50 Laws of Freelancing.
Step 1: Have a good enough one-liner
I’m a freelance writer for startups and venture capitalists. If you asked me what else I do, I’d tell you that I edit, do content strategy, occasionally work with big corporations and governments, and more. But my “one-liner” when I introduce myself is simply that I am a freelance writer for startups and venture capitalists.
This is the essence of the “good enough” one-liner.
When you introduce yourself, you want to make sure what you say meets two criteria:
1. It’s easy to understand.
2. It’s easy to repeat.
If you want to build an inbound funnel, criterion number two is the most important. If I started all of my introductions with everything I do, people would get confused and understand less. But more importantly, they would repeat it less - or repeat it incorrectly.
The point of a “good enough” one-liner is so that other people talk about you the way you want to be talked about. When you focus on making it easy to understand and easy to repeat, you give people the language you want them to use. This alone has generated lots of clients for me, who reach out and say they heard I did freelance writing, and wonder if I could help them.
Step 2: Try everything and stick with what you like
Freelancers often work remotely, and unfortunately that comes with many pitfalls, particularly around freelancer mental health. Obviously, selling more is a critical element of mental health - making money can not only address anxiety about money but also pay for resources and help if necessary.
The way that I tackle both the pitfalls of remote freelance work and selling more is to try everything but stick with what you like. You try everything because you never know what might work or what you might like. When you only stick with what you like, you’re more likely to engage on a genuine level and more likely to enjoy yourself. Win-win.
In my case, I’ve tried every social media platform I can find, gone to hundreds of events and conferences, and even did a cultural exchange vacation to France to help a family restore their old chateau. If the platforms or experiences didn’t give me clients directly, they provided stories that rounded me out as a human and freelancer, resulting in more sales.
Step 3: Ask for referrals the right way
Asking someone if they will refer business to you is asking for a favor. Even if you pay them a commission, you’re still asking for them to use mental energy to remember your sales pitch then leverage their social capital to send clients your way.
Instead, make them the hero.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Instead of asking for referrals, remind them of your easy to repeat one-liner and tell them that if they know anyone facing the challenges you solve, you’d be happy to help.
Step 2: When that person interacts with someone facing a challenge, they can bring you up as a solution to the problem.
Step 3: Introductions you get from that person will be way higher quality because now you’re presented as the solution to a problem, and the person who referred you is the hero who made the introduction. The third person gets their problem solved, you get an inbound client, and your friend gets more social capital for being a problem-solver.
Step 4: Build partnerships
If you are trying to increase your client base without direct sales, then partnerships are a huge way to go. In making them, though, you have to be clear on the value you provide both to the end user (your potential client) and to the partner. In short, you have to make your partner the hero so they open up their network to you.
Here’s an example of what I did: I was working with a venture capitalist on their content, then we talked about a partnership. We agreed on a few pieces of content that I would offer at a discount to any portfolio company that the VC had. In turn, the VC would market me as the solution to any portfolio company needing content.
It was a triple win:
Startups have limited time and resources, but need good content. The partnership meant discounted rates and a high quality writer.
VCs want to solve problems for their portfolio companies. The partnership meant they got an “exclusive” deal for their startups that no one else could get them.
I didn’t want to chase clients. The partnership meant a discounted rate, but I still profited because I didn’t have to invest any time selling those clients.
Remember: freelancing is a business
Too many people assume freelancing is this in-between zone. You’re not an employee, but you’re not a corporation either. The reality is that freelancing is firmly in business territory. That means you have additional administration to work through, but you also have the ability to leverage business frameworks to make you more successful - particularly around building inbound funnels.
Article | March 24, 2021
In recent years, the focus and surge in ecommerce has been undeniable. There has been clear evidence of how a lack of online consideration can ultimately result in a brand’s demise, with Debenhams and Topshop just two recent examples. However, the latest moves by online giants, including Amazon, are suggesting we’re not quite ready for a complete digital switchover just yet.
In this article, Nate Burke, CEO at Diginius, a proprietary software solutions provider for digital marketing and ecommerce, explains that multichannel models are the next logical step, and how businesses can boost their prospects with not just a presence in both the digital and physical space, but by combining the two to create a frictionless customer experience.
While it might have felt like the pandemic was driving us closer to some sort of digital utopia, particularly with the closure of non-essential shops, remote working and online social gatherings being the norm for over a year now, it has become apparent neither businesses nor consumers are quite ready for things to transform to such an extent just yet.
One clear piece of evidence is the buzz and excitement that surrounded the reopening of retail in England and Wales from 12 April. This date marks the first time this year non-essential stores allowed customers to enter, browse and purchase items in the traditional bricks and mortar way.
Stores and hospitality venues were met with queuing customers on day one of the eased restrictions, showing a clear desire for physical brand offerings. One brand in particular which is known for its strictly-bricks and mortar model is Primark. Despite months of plummeted sales, its stores across England and Wales were one of the most popular among consumers on the first day of reopening, with many even lining up outside before business hours.
Although the excitement may have simply been down to pent up frustration after having spent months indoors with few other recreational activities available, there is undeniably a certain sense of trust, convenience and comfort offered by the in-store experience, that digital channels are yet to trump.
However, when taking to high streets and re-entering shopping centres after so long, consumers are no doubt being met with an unrecognisable physical retail landscape, with a significant number of empty units, some of which once belonged to flagship stores and iconic brands.
A changing physical landscape
The pandemic was the tipping point for many brands that had been slow or reluctant to adapt to the gradual digital transformation that has been occurring for some years now, examples of which include Debenhams and businesses operating under the Arcadia Group. Essentially, while some of these brands were struggling against online competitors before the initial lockdown, forced store closures drove customers to shop with those that had perfected their digital experience as there was no physical alternative anymore. So with no other options, the enhanced experience and simpler processes of trusted online brands outweighed any incentives to remain loyal to those which favoured the in-store offering. Evidently, the two channels are not the same and a mere presence in both online and offline spaces is not enough.
But while consumers bid farewell to stores they have known and visited their whole life, we welcome new brands and ways of shopping to the high street, suggesting it’s not completely over for bricks and mortar just yet.
One of the latest additions is Amazon Fresh. The online giant has been taking up space in physical retail across the U.S. for some years now, with bookstores, Amazon Go and the acquisition of Whole Foods. While the latter helped Amazon break into the competitive grocery market in the UK too, its most recent Amazon Fresh store opening in Ealing, London, is on track to solidify its position.
The unique store concept of a till-less shopping experience aims to disrupt the grocery industry by removing frictions and enabling customers to get their goods in the most convenient way. The concept utilises hundreds of cameras, depth sensors and artificial intelligence to recognise and monitor items customers pick up and put back. Upon entry, they scan a barcode on their Amazon Shopping smartphone app, and upon leaving, their accounts are automatically charged with the items they walk out with.
Of course, Amazon certainly did not need to make this move into physical retail, especially considering their growing online financial performance. However, the business clearly understands the importance of a model that comprises both online and physical channels, particularly as consumers’ behaviours and sentiments adjust following the pandemic.
Digital-led bricks and mortar
While digital offerings have provided a lifeline for both businesses and consumers amid lockdown restrictions, there are still certain items that customers prefer to buy in-store, with groceries and clothing two of the biggest categories. Ultimately, in-store grocery shopping remains the most convenient way to get items you need instantly, and digital is yet to offer a way to help customers gauge fit, feel and quality of clothing items online. The only option is to place an order and return it if you are unsatisfied, which as Amazon is beginning to understand, comes at a great financial and environmental cost.
The brand’s physical stores offer a way to combat these issues until a digital solution is established. Not only do they offer a fast and seamless way to shop for essential grocery items, Amazon Fresh also features a station at which online orders can be picked up and returned, minimising the impact delivery to multiple addresses and round return trips have on its bottom line and the planet.
Going forward, this is precisely what the future of retail will look like. Rather than pulling all physical presence, technology and digital software needs to be integrated into in-store offerings in order to reduce pain points of either channel.
Many multichannel retailers offer similar click and collect services that help merge customer experiences across channels and create a seamless and convenient process. And while Amazon Fresh is a unique concept, we can see other brands making similar moves with the likes of Scan and Go services and self-checkouts.
By embracing and leveraging the technology available, brands can make the most of their multichannel models, whereby online and offline routes are not separate entities, but rather a way to boost business prospects through greater presence, frictionless processes and an overall better buying experience for the customer.
Article | March 24, 2021
You’re ready to start a marketing campaign; a newsletter, social or some paid campaign. Your main goal is to drive traffic back to your website, convert that traffic into leads, and those leads into customers.
So, how do you tell which marketing campaigns were successful? Easy. Use the Google Analytics URL builder to track your campaigns.