This is a place for thinking out loud, reflecting, and sharing ideas. Notes are a window into my process, thoughts, inspiration, and experiments. Explore visual gallery.
This is a place for thinking out loud, reflecting, and sharing ideas. Notes are a window into my process, thoughts, inspiration, and experiments. Explore visual gallery.
Now that the cyber dust has settled and we transition into a new year, you may be feeling the post-sales slump, emotionally and as a business. But the work is far from over!
Whether your BFCM was a success or a learning experience, you likely have an influx of new customers currently getting to know your product and brand.
Use this opportunity to grow your customer base by cultivating lasting relationships and maximizing your potential together. Here are some tips to consider.
Returns are sadly inevitable post-BFCM, but they don't have to be so depressing. Rather than viewing them as setbacks, consider returns a strategic move to get to know customers by finding out why they're unhappy or increase AOV by offering discounts on higher-priced products or additional related products. Even if you can't win them back, an incredible customer service experience can be enough for them to return later or tell a friend. Check out this post on how to set yourself up to avoid returns as much as possible.
For subscription-based businesses, tackle potential one-month churn by offering gifts or exclusive perks, showcasing the ongoing value of their subscription. Additionally, reach out to subscribers now with an email that reinforces the power they have with their subscription to avoid accumulating excess products.
There's no better time than post-BFCM to launch a loyalty program to drive customer engagement and repeat purchases. Whether you go with points or credit is up to you and depends on what you think will resonate with customers. Either way you go, a well-structured loyalty program is a must-have for customer retention.
If you haven't unlocked the potential of personalized email/SMS automation, get started by segmenting your customers based on buying patterns and start gathering data now. Post-purchase surveys, quizzes, and reviews are the perfect inputs for improving segmentation. You can then use this data to create more automation that connects with new customers on a deeper, more meaningful level.
While phone calls might seem outdated, there's nothing like hearing from a customer directly. Reach out to new customers, showing appreciation and a genuine interest in their experiences. Learn about their motivations and purchase journey. By making customers feel valued, you increase the likelihood of their return and transformation into brand advocates.
Once you've created a new group of fans, they'll need an easy way to tell all of their friends. A referral program is pivotal in capitalizing on your most loyalty customers. Provide incentives for customers to share positive experiences with friends, creating a cycle of customer satisfaction and brand growth.
Imagine running a retail store and being able to zoom out to understand what drove your customers to come in and shop. Did they see an ad? Notice the storefront while driving by and pull off to visit? In the e-commerce world, we call this website traffic source. Luckily for us, we have that visibility.
The origin of a brand's website traffic isn't just a set of numbers; it can be a roadmap that unveils opportunities for improving your website's performance.
Let's examine the five most common traffic sources and the insights they can provide.
1) Organic Search
When it comes to organic search, high traffic is a sign of strong SEO. The specific keywords bringing users to your site act as signposts pointing toward relevant content, but that doesn't mean they'll stick around.
To optimize, make sure the top landing pages are delivering both what the user is looking for and what you want them to know. For instance, feature products or brand content on blog posts. If the content lends itself to visual storytelling, lean into it and create a memorable experience.
Use a tool like Semrush to do some research on what other keywords might resonate with your target customers. Consider expanding your keyword portfolio with more content for increased visibility via search.
2) Direct Traffic
Consistent direct traffic is a testament to brand recognition and user loyalty, while fluctuations may reflect the impact of offline campaigns or notable brand events.
Whether you're launching an out-of-home campaign or aiming to drive traffic via packaging in retail, consider creating custom URLs to both gauge the efficacy of your efforts but also make the experience more personalized to the customer.
3) Referral Traffic
Referral traffic can be a signal of effective partnerships and collaborations. Analyzing referral domains can help identify external sources that drive significant traffic to your site.
If you notice an unfamiliar domain that is a strong source of referral traffic, this is an opportunity to build a relationship and understand why it's been successful. Beyond that, you can double down on referral traffic but identify like-minded publications and websites that may be interested in featuring your brand.
Another way to do this is through affiliate marketing. If you haven't yet explored the world of affiliates, check out tools like Refersion to get started.
4) Social Media
Social media traffic reflects the outcome of your social media marketing efforts. Engagement metrics, such as likes, shares, and comments, provide insights into the performance of your content. Identify the most effective social media platforms for your brand and concentrate your efforts there. Tailor your content for each platform and strategically leverage paid advertising for targeted reach.
Influencer partnerships can be another great way to build up your social presence while driving traffic to your site from their channels. If you do this, be sure to create a special destination and unique promo code for influencers's followers. Like direct traffic, this can help better understand the performance of these investments.
5) Email Marketing
Email traffic offers a window into the effectiveness of your email program. Monitoring click-through rates and conversion rates can provide valuable insights, but it's important to continually test and optimize your email content, timing, and frequency to enhance results.
Segment your email lists for more targeted campaigns. If you haven't implemented a post-purchase survey, do this to better understand customer segments and send more personalized messaging. At a baseline, make sure all e-commerce transactional emails are set up, look on-brand, and are in line with your overall brand strategy.
Any time I make a return on Amazon, I end up sharing some level of detail about why I didn't hang on to the item. I always hope the feedback makes its way back to the seller and if it's an issue, they can find ways to improve.
I don't think we spend enough time talking about returns when brands are looking to optimize their e-commerce websites. As important as it is to talk to your customers to understand their wants, needs, and desires, returns can shed light on actionable opportunities to improve.
Here are a couple of scenarios:
What was the last return you made? Was it a product issue or something that could have been prevented with an update to the website pre-purchase?
There was a time when every new client we worked with was looking for a quiz. It didn't matter what they were selling. They thought a quiz "like BuzzFeed" was just what they needed to lift sales. They know better now.
Quizzes can be great tools for engaging customers and simplifying their decision-making process. However, they're typically best suited for extensive product categories with multiple variations and specific use cases, such as beauty, skincare, or food.
When a quiz feels like overkill, creating a product comparison chart can often have the same impact. Comparison charts are ideal for products like tech gadgets and furniture, allowing customers to easily compare features, measurements, and materials side by side.
While these two tools can coexist, less is often more! Offering too many features may overwhelm customers and divert them from purchasing.
We're currently working with a client whose catalog includes three variations of the same hero product with several accessories. Their website has a quiz AND comparison chart. When you take the quiz, you end up on a comparison chart. The quiz gets more traffic than the comparison chart, but neither feature gets much love or drives conversion.
With so few products, this client will be better off highlighting what makes each variation unique and integrating a comparison chart in as many touch points throughout the website as possible. Customers will quickly understand what makes sense for them without having to answer any questions or be asked for their email addresses.
I was chatting with a client last week who sells mostly in retail and Amazon rather than their own e-commerce channel. They mentioned a recent product launch and how they plan to drive customers to Amazon to purchase the product. Their decision had to do with getting better margins via Amazon.
There's been a lot of chatter about Amazon's new integration with Shopify via Buy With Prime and this couldn't be a better use case. Rather than driving traffic to Amazon, our client can offer the benefits of Amazon Prime to customers through their own website. Given their sales channels, understanding their customers has always been a challenge. Buy With Prime would give them access to customer data for every purchase, which is not available through Amazon, making it easy to re-market to them for upcoming launches, discounts, and more.
The team and I were looking at the subscription side of a client's business today and noticed a trend: sharp drop-off from the first to the second month of a subscription. We often see this when customers can get a discount for subscribing. Instead of making a one-time purchase, they subscribe and cancel.
While this is considered "normal," all hope is not lost. While most customers aren't likely to let you in on their little scheme, it's always worthwhile to ask subscribers what led them to cancel. These insights can serve as valuable puzzle pieces to improve the subscription experience and maintain customer engagement.
While there are numerous tactics to address this issue, one approach emerged from our discussion today: use the start of a customer's subscription to re-educate them on why they subscribed and the benefits of doing so.
Here's how to put this into action:
Customer retention is the name of the game in today's competitive landscape. With the ever-increasing difficulty of acquiring new customers, brands are shifting their focus towards keeping their existing customers engaged and coming back for more. We continually see an untapped opportunity in this shift, and it's all about collaboration.
In a blog post I recently wrote for Wonderment, I discuss the benefit of merging the efforts of marketing and customer service (CS) teams to prioritize customer retention, and how Wonderment can help. While marketing traditionally concentrates on attracting new customers, CS teams are in direct contact with the existing ones. They hold the key to understanding what drives customer satisfaction and what improvements can be made.
The numbers don't lie: retaining customers is not only cost-effective but also more profitable. It costs significantly less to retain an existing customer, and they are more likely to try new products and spend more. That's where the magic happens when marketing and CS teams join forces.
Click here to read "How to Bridge the Gap between Marketing & CX teams to Increase Customer Retention" on the Wonderment Blog.
Our team at Barrel has been working with Recharge for years now, back when it took custom code to do anything unique outside of a traditional subscription program.
Since then, Recharge has taken the time to listen to customers and gather feedback to evolve the platform to address their business needs more effectively.
While their core offering still revolves around subscriptions, Recharge offers more of a complete retention platform aimed at increasing LTV than ever before.
Let's look at an example:
A merchant uses Recharge to design a subscription program where customers can build a bundle to mix and match flavors.
Customers can seamlessly update their subscriptions via the Recharge Affinity portal, swapping out flavors as they want.
The merchant can spin up changes and modify the portal experience in minutes vs. weeks.
While subscriptions are gaining steam, the merchant sees an opportunity to engage their best customers with an exclusive offering. They use Recharge to launch membership, giving customers access to exclusive content, monthly products, and an online community.
As membership takes off, the merchant notices bundle subscribers tend to churn around three months. The merchant needs a way to keep subscribers engaged until month five. They know customers who subscribe for this long tend to stick around.
The merchant taps into Recharge Flows to design a series of automations that recognize the subscriber's place in their journey and keep them engaged, starting with these areas:
They differentiate between subscribers canceling at months two, three, and four with different messaging and incentives to continue subscribing.
They surprise customers with a gift at month three and thank them for subscribing.
They run an A/B test to see if customers prefer the gift or store credit to spend more.
The credit wins out, so they pair it with a targeted upsell, further driving LTV and loyalty.
Remember when your cell phone felt sacred? A private little world in the palm of your hand. You only gave your number to your inner circle of friends and family.
Times have changed, though. Yes, you get robocalls, but your inner circle now includes the brands you love. You welcome them into your world until they abuse your invitation. They mean well but often come off more like a friend who wants you to know what they're doing every second of every day.
Maybe unlike your friend, there’s still hope for brands. If used and not abused, SMS can be lucrative for brands and valuable for customers.
Here is some SMS automation inspiration to get things rolling, build trust with your customers, and most importantly, maintain a spot in their contact list.
One more thing. Yes, most people love a good discount, but not every. single. day!!! If you want to let SMS subscribers in on exclusive promos or give them early access to new releases, that’s fine. But please, stay chill. Let them miss you.
In 2023, product upsells and cross-sells are considered table stakes for e-commerce websites. While most of our clients recognize this, they're not always aware of the many placements available across the website and how to use them effectively.
Before we dig into some placement opportunities, let's align on what we mean by upselling and cross-selling. Both tactics aim to increase AOV and drive revenue while providing more value to the customer.
Upselling: encouraging customers to purchase a higher-end or upgraded version of the product they are considering or have chosen. Example: A customer is looking for a new coffee maker. Upselling techniques drive them to a more advanced model that can make cold brew and tea.
Cross-selling: suggesting related, alternative, or complementary products to customers based on their interests or the product they're considering or have chosen. Example: A customer is interested in buying a new bike. Cross-selling leads them to include a pair of cycling shoes, a bike pump, and a spare set of tires with their purchase.
Years ago, we'd use code and tagging to create product recommendations. These days, platforms like Rebuy and Dynamic Yield can use a user's past purchase history, on-site behavior, and other inputs to generate personalized recommendations that will resonate with the customer that much more.
I too often see brands overlook the potential of customer data at every touchpoint. This is where Okendo shines.
It was nice to spend time with the Okendo team recently in NYC. I've been continually impressed with how they've grown the platform with features and products that just make sense, all driving toward helping brands build robust customer profiles. More on that soon.
For those curious, here's a common customer journey where Okendo could play a role at every step.
With every new customer who interacts with the brand, Okendo helps them understand each at a deeper level. All of these inputs helps them fuel more impactful brand, marketing, and product strategy.
Originally published on LinkedIn. View post here.
Rebuy has been effective for many of our clients, helping them roll out dynamic product suggestions, smart upsells/cross-sells, and post-purchase offers, among other features.
I was chatting with the Rebuy team last week and was excited to learn about their new free plan and use of Shopify checkout extensions.
New free plan: This is a big win for smaller merchants and really any merchant getting started on the platform. Merchants won’t see a bill until Rebuy has generated over $1,000 in revenue. It's nice to see Rebuy standing behind their product with this update.
Unlimited, free use of Checkout Extensions: An effective strategy for upselling and cross-selling is to include relevant products during checkout. Customers are engaged, ready to complete their order, then see a discounted add-on. With one click, their AOV goes up!
Rebuy has made this feature available at no cost via Checkout Extensions to Shopify brands using Plus. Regardless of how much revenue it drives, it's free.
Check out the Rebuy pricing page to calculate estimated ROI and find more details on pricing and other features.
Throughout my years of designing websites, one issue I see time and time again is that brands often overlook the importance of their website navigation.
Whether you're using a phone or a computer, our research consistently shows that users land on a website, look at the menu, and then move on.
Instead of immediately trying to optimize the content and pages better, we always start work with new clients by thinking about the menu and overall structure of the website. It's not just a tool for users to find their way around; it's a chance for a brand to show them what they're all about and what they offer.
Here's a simple example, if you're a clothing company that cares about being environmentally friendly, make sure your menu highlights what you sell and why you're unique. Here's a simple example: "Bottoms, Tops, Accessories, Sustainability" instead of "Shop, Collections, About, Blog."
Early this year, I met with Amazon's Buy with Prime team in person at NRF in NYC. They outlined why Buy with Prime could be a game-changer for our clients. For those unfamiliar, Buy with Prime allows customers to checkout with their Amazon Prime account on a merchant's e-commerce website. While I was intrigued by the potential, it seemed too good to be true for brand selling on Amazon. At the time, it also seemed like setting up Buy with Prime on Shopify websites would be a risk in violating Shopify's terms. One we weren't willing to take.
Despite concerns, we continued conversations with Buy with Prime and even mentioned it to a couple of clients who could be a good fit. Many of these clients raised the same concerns as me. Amazon assured us there hadn't been issues with other Shopify merchants, but this wasn't enough to take the risk.
A few months ago, more Buy with Prime use cases kept coming up while chatting with prospective clients. Eager to see how Buy with Prime could help these merchants succeed, I contacted our Buy with Prime partner manager for an update on the Shopify relationship. This time, he let me in on the exciting news Shopify President Harley Finkelstein announced last week: Buy with Prime was coming to the Shopify app store.
What this means:
Since hearing the news, I've enjoyed working with Buy with Prime (BwP) on potential implementation for new and current clients. Here are some reasons I'm bullish about Buy with Prime:
BwP isn't the right move for every merchant. For now, I see the most opportunity for:
Building out DTC: Countless merchants have excelled on Amazon but have been unable to crack the direct-to-consumer channel. There's, of course, a financial motivation to build out DTC, but another is better understanding their customers. Buy with Prime is a game-changer for these merchants. They can launch their e-commerce store and offer customers the same trust and benefits of shopping with Amazon Prime. With full access to customer data, these merchants will have more insight than ever into their customers and the ability to build meaningful relationships through channels like email/SMS. Merchants may launch with all or select products on Buy with Prime but can gradually drive customers to purchase DTC as they build trust.
Unified branded shopping: Amazon made several improvements to its platform over the years, allowing merchants to offer customers more branded experiences; however, it still doesn't come close to what's possible with Shopify. Until now, merchants who opt to sell on Amazon will try to get around this by building a brand experience on a platform like Shopify but still drive traffic to Amazon, even if they offer DTC. We've built experiences like this for countless brands, often in the CPG space. Buy with Prime will help merchants bridge this gap and create one unified shopping experience.
E-commerce teams are often fixated on conversion rate. While conversion is, of course, an important metric, don’t miss out on opportunities to drive revenue with engaged customers.
Here are 3 low-hanging fruit opportunities I see brands often miss:
While most brands assume they know their audience, do they really understand them? Assumptions are not enough.
Regular customer calls, "Jobs To Be Done" interviews, and post-purchase surveys aid in understanding customers' wants, needs, and aspirations. The insights from these interactions can help inform targeted improvements.
A good starting point for gathering input is through post-purchase surveys. Fairing offers an effective solution. For those already on Okendo, their survey tool is also a great option.
Upsells and cross-sells may seem like a no-brainer but if they’re not dynamic, the juice may not be worth the squeeze. Upsells and cross-sells should show up throughout the shopping experience, primarily on the product page & cart.
Using tools like Rebuy makes it easy to show dynamic, personalized, and relevant products that the customer will actually be interested in.
Bundling is another strategy for effective upselling. Craft bundles that cater to specific customer interests, such as first-time customers exploring multiple flavors. The better you understand your customer, the more effective bundles can be. Happy customer? Increased AOV? Win-win.
One of the biggest missed opportunities is post-purchase. The order confirmation page is a prime spot for upsells and cross-sells, enticing customers with limited-time offers. This may be the third time they’ve considered adding the item to the cart, but a discount often seals the deal.
It’s not just the Order Confirmation page that has opportunities. Did you know order tracking pages are among the top five most popular pages on Shopify sites? Elevating order tracking with an on-brand, personalized experience can go a long way with customers and notably increase AOV. We love Wonderment for this.
Don’t lose hope if a customer initiates a return! Again, make this experience feel great and on-brand. Make the return easy, but also re-introduce similar or complementary products for an exchange. Loop simplifies this process.
There’s too much to say about email/SMS to fit in here, but with more data around your customers, you have the power to create robust, automated flows that will keep your customers engaged and deepen your relationship with them.