Article | August 10, 2020
When consumers shifted to online-only shopping, City Beach was more prepared than a lot of other retailers. Not only had City Beach invested in e-commerce long before the pandemic struck, but they were observing real-time customer behavior and making wise inventory decisions to meet the demands of customers and still deliver business results.
Alex Timlin (SVP Verticals, Emarsys) spoke with Mike Cheng (Head of Digital, City Beach) who shares his take on e-commerce and changes in customer behavior prompted by COVID-19, including:
How critical a retailer’s e-commerce strategy is for engaging customers, Watching real-time trends to manage inventory in a profitable and customer-centric way, Why focusing on an excellent customer experience leads to greater long-term engagement than focusing on the conversion rate.
Article | August 10, 2020
Whether you’re selling yourself, a product, service, or idea, your online reputation makes a powerful impact on how successful you are. The way we communicate with family, friends, business associates, clients, and the world has been revolutionized in today’s digital environment. Everyone has the opportunity to be famous, or infamous, for something in a matter of minutes.
Andy Warhol said that everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes. Today, those minutes of fame have the potential to live on forever digitally. When you’re in the business of selling products and services, it’s your duty to ensure that what potential customers see online engages them in a positive way. The management of your online reputation is everything!
Most people will tell you they make important decisions after weighing the pros and cons of situations. Some will tell you that they “go with their guts.” The truth is that for nearly all decisions, even those evaluated using logic, the final determination is strongly influenced by emotion. It’s a natural aspect of being human. The dominant tipping point in most situations is how the buyer will feel after the decision is made. Decision-makers may be relieved to have found a viable solution, or they may be excited about something new entering their lives or influencing their businesses in a positive manner.
Understanding that emotion comes into play when making purchasing decisions, it’s important to proactively and positively influence human emotions through your digital presence. Most people who contemplate getting involved with you or your product will want to go through a getting-to-know-you phase. It’s a normal part of building relationships. It’s where we decide whether we like the person, brand, or product enough to invest more of our time and effort into them.
In sales, this is referred to as building or establishing rapport. It’s where you learn about your buyers and find commonality with them, not solely on a business level. It’s when you establish that you’re able to help them with their needs so they will listen to what you have to say. It’s the first step in building trust.
You can be fairly certain that the getting-to-know-you phase will include the buyers’ review of your digital presence. It’s the go-to resource for everyone these days. How you or your company come across online can either start or end the sales process, or it could just make the process much more challenging if there is any negative publicity or reviews to overcome. Your online reputation may be the tipping point for decisions about purchasing from you or building business relationships.
The way we sell and foster trust as professionals must include authentic representation of our brands as providing tremendous value to our ideal customers. Authenticity is highly valued. Coming across as either phony or too good to be true will cause hesitation in the minds of buyers, creating the opposite of trust. And where there is no trust, there will be no sales.
If you’re passionate about your clients and your products, that passion should show in your online presence. Part of being authentic is not to be afraid to speak about what you believe in or what your company believes in—just be realistic about it. Be thoughtful about the words and images used online to represent yourself and your business. Being passionate is important but do it in a manner that attracts buyers and doesn’t offend anyone. After all, even those who may not be qualified to own your product may know someone who is. Negative experiences are shared more frequently than positive ones. An unqualified person could negatively impact qualified friends or associates.
Not every page or post has to be about your product. Demonstrating authentic humanity through positive comments, good works, or light humor (depending on your type of product) can be quite attractive to those researching online.
Going back to the concept of “moments of fame,” it’s imperative that your online reputation be consistent and be managed consistently. Avoid taking risks with your digital reputation by checking in and evaluating what’s being said online about your product or company on a regular basis.
Express gratitude for positive comments or reviews and address negative ones immediately. When challenges arise both the solution and speed of solution are critical to their impact on your business. Being proactive demonstrates a high level of care for your reputation, which equates to a high level of attention being given to customers.
There are thousands of nuances inherent in building relationships and creating sales opportunities. Mishandled, any one of them could cause buyers to seek solutions elsewhere. Effective management of your online reputation is simple, strategic, and achievable.
Article | August 10, 2020
In today’s world, brand marketing goes much further than marketing campaigns and advertising.
When it comes to brand advocates, we typically think of social media influencers and the more traditional brand ambassador. However, what better brand advocate than your very own employees?
Matthew Hayes, managing director of brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains the importance of using employees as brand advocates and the benefits to both the brand or business and its staff.
What is a brand advocate?
A brand advocate is somebody that shares the same values and ethos as a brand, representing them in a positive light, often helping to increase brand awareness and even sales.
Typically speaking, a brand advocate is often a social media influencer, a brand ambassador or there is some sort of mutual, or contractual agreement in place.
However, who are the most powerful spokespeople for a brand or business? The people who work there, of course. These people are often the living embodiment of the brand and front-line representatives that can make or break that brand interaction.
It may not be the most traditional concept or the one we necessarily think of first, but it definitely makes the most sense. Particularly in a time where employee retention and communication are so important.
Brand advocates are a way to drive organic and authentic traffic to a brand or business. Whilst the Internet and social media are incredibly powerful tools for raising brand awareness, nothing quite beats word-of-mouth marketing.
In 2016, a global study found that 50% of employees share something on their own social media channels about their employer. And given that social media has upped the ante over the last few years, I expect this figure to be significantly higher in today’s climate.
So, with that in mind, brands should be working towards improving their internal communications to create a better relationship with employees, promote their vision and mission, and raise brand awareness through organic brand advocacy.
Brand advocacy builds brand love
When done correctly, brand advocacy can build brand love and there are a number of ways to do that.
Whilst many brands focusing their attentions to external communications, however, many neglect or overlook the importance of internal communications and training.
Internal communications are a phenomenal way for brands and businesses to collectively communicate with their employees. Whether this is done via training courses or conferences, internal Intranet or even an email newsletter, this can help improve employees’ knowledge of the business, the brand and the products or services.
Not only that, but internal communications help boost staff morale, providing them with motivation and detailed information ensuring they are involved and up to date with all aspects of the business.
They also provide a sense of togetherness, connecting employees through a series of shared visions, missions, goals and objectives.
Here, is where consumer and employee sentiment is key. Consumer sentiment has always been an important variable in businesses, allowing owners to forecast production, plan ahead or adjust their output depending on popular opinion – and the same goes for employees, too.
And if brands aren’t entirely sure how to turn their attention to employee sentiment, the first step to make is investing in a brand audit or brand value proposition. These can help to educate and ensure stakeholder and employee perceptions are aligned, as well as making sure people are communicating the same messages, vision, mission and values of the brand.
A brand vision is simply intent. The vision should support and reflect the long-term business strategy and help guide the future. And a brand mission, is a statement that communicates the purpose and objectives of a brand.
And with the vision and mission of the brand in mind, it is important for brands and businesses to consider both employees and consumers to ensure values are shared across the board.
Employees are key
Employees are a pivotal part of any business. And quite simply, without them, businesses wouldn’t be able to function. It is the employee’s business just as much as the employers, so it is only right for them to play a part and get involved.
We are beginning to see more well-known brands implementing this strategy and using their employees as a face of the brand, rather than just working their magic behind the scenes. Disney are a great example of this as its employees have been the embodiment of the brand and its ethos for years.
The likes of Sass and Belle, Lindex and Zoella are all putting staff at the forefront of their brands, getting them just as involved as main stakeholders.
Sass and Belle, for example, have a website filled with images of their employees and often share quotes and content from them, too. This in turn, creates a more personal and emotional bond between the brand and the consumer, as the brand is no longer faceless.
Similarly, in 2015, Lindex launched an underwear campaign and instead of tapping into their network of professional models, they used their own employees and have continued to do so. Again, this improves their position in the market by appearing more relatable and creating that all-important emotional connection.
And Zoella often shares content, crediting employees for their ideas, allowing them to take part in social media takeovers and truly getting them involved. By doing so, they are adding personal and humanistic elements to their branding – and it’s paying off, too.
In doing this, the brand achieves an even wider reach as employees share the brand’s content across their personal channels, get to know their online connections and create organic relationships with potential consumers themselves.
Not only that, but this creates reputation, making brands come across as a desirable employer and recruiter, as well as helping to retain current staff and employees.
Listening to new ideas, accepting criticism and being transparent is also paramount. Your employees may well be your consumers too, and as they say, the customer is always right.
After all, employees are the ultimate representative of a brand, and Amelia Neate, Senior Manager at Influencer Matchmaker says, “It’s important to remember we’re living in a social age where employees are becoming micro-influencers in their very own right.
“For example, Emily Rose Moloney started out as an employee for ASOS and now, working as a fashion influencer, is promoting them on her social media channels, with her Instagram account gaining almost 80k followers.”
What employees think of a brand or business they work for speaks volumes. And employees help to drive brand awareness, so empowering them through a plan of brand advocacy is a sure-fire way to achieve great results.
So, next time you are seeking to boost stats and see results, consider the power of your employees and come together to create your very own culture.
Lead by example, work together and invest in your employees.
Article | August 10, 2020
All business owners know the importance of generating long-term value from company efforts and resources. From marketing campaigns to internal processes, every aspect of operations must work toward providing ongoing benefits for the company.
This same concept applies to your company’s content. However, I have yet to see many companies leveraging this thought process for their content marketing efforts.
How often does your team create astounding content, only for it to be used once and never touched again? Likely far more often than you’d care to admit!
Instead, use or repurpose your company’s content effectively across multiple channels, campaigns, goals, and processes to maximize its value for years to come.
Not sure how to do this? Let me show you eight ways to leverage content effectively throughout your business.
1. Build Brand Awareness
From social media posts to introductory new client emails, content can be used to generate and sustain brand awareness.
Think of this content use as a way to grab the attention of those at the top of your sales funnel. These potential customers are beginning their buying journey and are interested in learning more about your company, products, services, and other related topics.
Pro Tip: Be cognizant that much of this content may not even reside on your website! Content management engines like Vestorly or Curata can sort through third-party content that mentions your brand and create an inventory of original and curated content to build a brand awareness campaign.
Examples of awareness-related content usage can include:
• Social media posts focused on generating engagement
• Blog posts about broad, overarching topics in your industry
• Welcome emails to new subscribers
• Landing pages for pay-per-click campaigns for generic keywords
Look through your company’s library of past content and see which pieces you can leverage to create ongoing brand awareness.
2. Generate Qualified Leads
Marketing content is most often used to drive qualified leads to your sales team.
By creating informative and entertaining content that ranks high on search engines, you’ll attract the attention of potential customers searching for answers online.
Chances are that your company already uses content for this purpose. But, have you considered revamping older pieces to function as lead generation content?
Transform content into lead generation pieces with a few simple tweaks, like:
Adding actionable language and contact forms to blog posts
Including a CTA in social media posts and videos
Allowing subscribers to respond to emails
3. Educate Your Audience
Expertly crafted content is an effective educational tool.
When thinking about creating educational content, start within your organization. Ask yourself what content you can create or what third-party content you can share to:
Improve hiring and training processes
Inform employees on new internal projects, efforts, or initiatives
Help strengthen the internal company culture
Educate employees on company policies, benefits, etc.
Additionally, nonprofit organizations can use content pieces to educate potential donors, volunteers, or advocates about their cause.
Businesses can similarly use content to educate users about their product or service. Creating an education hub that pulls your original content in, along with intelligently curated third-party content, is an excellent method for educating customers. Companies like Vestorly and UberFlip provide an efficient and effective solution for this approach.
4. Position Your Brand as an Authority
Content can also be used to build your brand’s authority effectively throughout the industry.
When it comes to athletic wear and sneakers, brands like Nike and Adidas lead the way. Why? Because consumers think of these brands as the authority on these products.
But that authority didn’t happen overnight. It took years of creative and engaging content designed to convince fans of the brand’s leadership and authority on the topic.
To escalate your company’s brand influence, start developing content on intriguing and even controversial topics within your industry. From thought leadership articles to in-depth how-to videos, your content can be strategically leveraged to position your company as an industry leader. The most important takeaway is for your audience to trust that you know what you're talking about.
Remember, this authority doesn’t appear out of thin air. You have to continuously publish high-level content to break through barriers and become a thought leader.
5. Retain Loyal Customers
No one likes feeling forgotten — especially customers.
Both B2B and B2C companies rely on customer retention strategies to keep customers engaged. But these strategies require far more content than the occasional email and discount code to operate effectively.
Content created exclusively for frequent buyers is an excellent way to retain top-spending customers. Through personalized content, specific blog post topics, fan-only newsletters, and other forms of content, you can work to build a solid relationship with customers who trust your brand.
Another tried-and-true way to retain loyal customers is to provide personalized comments with links to curated content related to your buyer’s interests and needs.
The Harvard Business Review found that offering customers short tutorial content on product features can reduce churn by 6%. And, Bain & Company reported that increasing customer retention by a mere 5% can improve profits by 25% or more.
Plus, through these retention content efforts, you can also leverage your fans to help build your brand authority. Find ways to encourage and incentivize customers to share your brand’s content with others.
6. Communications Tools
No matter if you’re a small business or a multinational corporation, an internal communications strategy is the key to success.
With this in mind, companies can use their content to seamlessly communicate information internally to stakeholders and external partners.
Whether you choose to communicate this information in the form of an interactive blog post or an entertaining video, it’s far more productive than sending an email memo!
7. Analyze Your Industry and Market
Effective content usage isn’t restricted to only your content.
Collect content from your competition or leading industry publications and analyze it to better understand what’s happening in your market. Additionally, take a look at their content strategy. Is there anything you can replicate or do better within your content marketing strategy?
To expedite your content curation efforts, rely on a content engine like Vestorly to filter through relevant results based on keywords, sources, and other criteria.
8. Learn About Your Audience
Similarly, you can curate content to gather business intelligence about your audience.
Take a look at the content written about your target demographic. What does it tell you about your market’s wants, needs, and problems?
Also, comb through content that your audience shares and interacts with. This will provide you with insight into what type of content to create and which topics to focus on.
Learn How To Leverage Your Content Effectively
Your company’s content isn’t reserved for only the marketing team. Instead, it can be used to:
Build lasting brand authority in your industry
Communicate important information to internal teams and external stakeholders
Gather business and audience intelligence
Retain customers and drive up profit
If you’re unsure of how to use content effectively throughout your organization, get in touch and I’ll show you how it’s done.