Everyone’s asking, “What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018?” Will it be the illustrious AI, the illuminating abilities of augmented reality, or perhaps… chatbots?
With the emergence of all this new tech, marketers are left to base their budget allocation for 2018 on speculation. As a result, I am inclined to believe that without a doubt, 2018 will be somewhat of a plateau for marketing; defined by a knowledge-gap surrounding new avenues for advertising and the deteriorating value of current methods. Here’s why:
Marketing Tech in 2018
As we await the true advent of AI, AR, VR and Mixed Reality in the mainstream, contemporary digital advertising is rolling over and dying, with search, social and display ads experiencing a gradual decline in usefulness. Gen-Y and Gen-Z hate ads, and while pervasive multichannel messaging was previously a working strategy, ads are ignored now more than ever… and expansive ad campaigns are annoying customers, damaging brands.
The savior in this scenario was and still is video, which many companies lack the capability or know-how to properly leverage. Many still refuse any attempt to enter the video realm, despite annual marketing reports for the past decade marking video as the most effective channel for sales and brand engagement. Right now, the benefits of video seem to be buffering (pun intended), with numbers stagnating as users look for something new.
As a natural side-effect of the decline in channel efficiency, marketers have turned to big data as the new god to drive vertical engagement. However, many retail marketers lack the experience and/or artificial intelligence applications necessary to make sense of this wealth of data.
Getting a Grip on AI
This past year, we’ve seen the launch of some incredible remarketing software in ecommerce, like HiConversion and Rejoiner. Programs so powerful they can replace entire marketing teams that would typically manage the breadth of digital messaging (emails, ads, social, tracking, analytics, etc).
However… because these systems and the technology are so new, we’re combining the adoption curve with a learning curve. While marketers get a grip on machine learning Saas, I expect their true potential will be neither realized, nor their full impact felt in the market this year.
To make matters worse, today’s AI market focuses exclusively on predictive AI, which all-too-soon will be replaced with cognitive AI (Rajesh Sinha, Fulcrum Worldwide‘s CEO, predicts in the next two years). The change-over will immediately render predictive systems obsolete. On the other hand, retailers and brands can’t sit around waiting for cognitive AI, and those that do could see big-time losses (Hence the dilemma here).
Playing the Waiting Game & Winning
For now, we have to keep milking the avenues we have available. Optimize performance as much as possible with regard to channel strategy and be diligent. With the current pace of innovation, you might not get a second chance.
Now is the time for companies to start looking into how AR, AI, VR, IoT and other emerging tech can reshape business through digital transformation. While the long-term strategy teams focus on how they will deliver value in 2020 and beyond (when these technologies are expected to have much wider reach), it’s time to bring our websites into the new age. Maximize your site and sales funnels with every possible upgrade, build out content and bulk-up ad spend while we get over this hump. Rethink your strategy for the next four years and think seriously about how you plan to invest all the new martech.
Some companies will spend a little more on ads to wait this out. Others will buy into expensive (soon-to-be outdated) platforms they’ll be stuck with long after the competition moves on. Unfortunately, the largest group will likely be those who sit on their hands and refuse to innovate. These will be the losers. Instead, find out how much budget you can pack into the time between now and 2020. Focus on your omnichannel experience and unifying your brand strategies with supportive AI products you can afford (for the short term). In addition, bulk up your ad spend, get some videos or podcasts going, and settle in for the long hibernation period ahead.
So let’s review. What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018? You, the human, which should be an empowering, albeit intimidating challenge for marketers. Lastly, remember, there’s no need to be discouraged. Plateaus are part of every high-growth process…
We just happen to be crossing the Rubicon.
As marketers, constantly sending emails is critical to mission success. However… There’s a big difference between simply “sending an email” and delivering targeted reminders at critical touch-points along the customer journey. Reminders, offers and insights, mind you, that influence higher conversions, win-back customers, and maximize your customer lifetime value. Here’s a quick breakdown from Rejoiner’s massive report on the subject: “Email Marketing for eCommerce: The 8 Campaigns That Have Generated over $140M”. So again, here’s 3 major issues with your email campaigns. If you’re not doing these things right, why bother?
1. You’re Doing Newsletters Wrong. Stop That.
Blanket email marketing works less and less each year, AKA: It doesn’t work anymore. According to Rejoiner and the DMA’s 2015 national client email report, “86% of email revenue is coming from email campaigns that use advanced tactics.” So it’s time to switch it up. Rather than sending a promotional email to your entire subscriber list, get targeted. Segment your lists by shopping category and morph one 10% off coupon into 10 different coupons like the hydra from Homer’s Odyssey. Your dress crowd should get a deal on dresses with a distinct description. It’s simple divide and conquer. Your tie-guys should get a deal on ties. Swimwear, slacks, unmentionables… Segment them all and surround the enemy. Er, your customers.
2. You’re Using “Triggers” Right? …Riiiiight???
Rejoiner outlines the following critical touch-points as send-signals for what we in the industry call “targeted emails.” Set up an automation that sends emails when your customers fit any of these criteria:
1. Browser Abandoner (they looked at that hat 3 times… make it 4)
2. New Subscriber (hasn’t made a purchase)
3. New Customer (after first purchase)
4. Cart Abandoner (you know this one)
5. Primed for Cross Sell (compliment their recent purchase)
6. VIP (The ones who spend the most are worth the most)
7. Replenisher (are they really going to keep that lipstick forever?)
8. Defector (re-engage before you lose them to the dark side)
Learn them. Live them. Love them. Tell your friends.
3. Your Win-Back Emails Are WEAK
Your cart abandonment emails are lame and uninspired. You also don’t use enough of them. Here’s Rejoiner’s short list of pro-tips that can be used for lonely carts and customers who’ve disappeared into the abyss elsewhere:
- Plan your cart abandonment emails under the pretense of customer service.
- Know and accept that customers will open win-back emails from their mobile. Anticipate this.
- Remember segmenting? Remember categories? Have you remembered anything I’ve said? Your abandoned carts are potential customers. Treat them like the real thing and remember: filter, divide, target, attack.
- You should know who’s on your site. Guest, registered, subscriber, Bill from accounting. Be the all-knowing Yoda of site traffic.
- Oh a cart was abandoned. Better do nothing about it. Just kidding, send them an email within 30 minutes to ask why. Let them know you mean business, and you’re here to help.
- While your win-back email should have a customer service focus, you’d do well to include a visual reminder of the last thing they looked at before they dropped-off.
- It’s now or never. Don’t lose them forever. Send a follow-up or two to make sure they come back.
- When it comes to discounts, use your brain. It’s 2017 and customers have gotten wise. Many know you’ll send a discount if they leave, so make sure you’re not throwing away money. You can achieve this through what Rejoiner calls “frequency capping.” Don’t be the parent who gives their kid candy every time they scream for it. It won’t do either of you any favors.
Sorry for the tough love, but you’ll thank me one day.
You can read and download the full report here at Rejoiner.com.
Find more email marketing best practices for retailers here.
Keep an eye out for our Emergency Ecommerce Checklist: A Tactical Guide to Surviving The Holiday Rush (Bookmark this page, link coming soon!).
At Redstage, we try to keep our content fresh, informative, and interesting for our readers. Whether it’s marketing psychology or the latest ecommerce growth hacks, our aim is to supply you with a constant stream of useful, actionable, and entertaining material. Thanks for tuning in! We hope we’ve helped you on your own quests in the industry. Here are the top 5 most read ecommerce articles from Redstage Worldwide:
#1. Online Buying Behavior: The Difference Between Men & Women
Are Men and Women equals when it comes to shopping? The answer, unsurprisingly, is – definitely not. While much has changed in recent years, there are still some behavioral aspects that set these two genders apart. What this article is primarily tackles though is the difference between online buying behavior between men and women. (read more)
#2. Selling & Upselling with Psychology & Human Behavior
This article was written by Anthony Latona, Redstage Worldwide’s Chief Marketing Officer & Controller. He writes, “Ted.com is one of my favorite websites ever. The entire site is filled with some of the most interesting, captivating, thought provoking and mind blowing presentations from the world’s top geniuses and experts. I highly recommend clicking around Ted.com and learning something… I recently watched this particular video called, “Are we in control of our own Decisions?” by Dan Ariely. Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist and wrote the book “Predictably Irrational” (Official Site). His TED Talk is brilliant and has a few ideas that we can use in our online marketing and on our e-commerce websites… Here’s what I found out…” (read more)
#3. How All B2C Companies Should Be Marketing By 2020
According to Adam Morris, CEO of Redstage, “The most profitable companies in 2020 will be those which seamlessly integrate content, product development and lifestyle marketing into the customer journey — and benefit from the data.” As an IoT enthusiast (already automating his household with Google Home), Morris believes “top brands will meet customer needs almost instantly, anywhere, and make customers view brand interactions as a constant benefit to their lifestyle.” In this world… (read more)
#4. The Incredible benefits of Magento 2
Magento just took everything to a whole new level with Magento 2.0. Magento 2 offers a superior feature set compared to nearly any other ecommerce platforms but you may ask yourself… What are the real benefits of Magento 2? Originally, we thought that Magento 2 would simply be a major upgrade from Magento 1, but it’s actually much, much more than that… (read more)
#5. Top 5 Ecommerce Challenges Stores Will Face This Holiday Season & How To Address Them
With the holiday season underway, it’s no wonder this one made the list. From stock control to shipping to shopping experiences, here are the top 5 pain-points stores will face this holiday, and our guide to managing these risks. (read more)
Costly Web Design Mistakes
Every year, companies hire the wrong web developer. Maybe it’s a budget issue, an error in judgement, or simply a friend who offered “expertise” that doesn’t actually have any. Regardless of cause, here are 5 costly web design mistakes that plagued ecommerce sites in 2017 (and how to fix them!):
5. Supercharge Your Cart
Customers expect the cart to be located in the top right corner. We know this. Still, many sites stray from the convention, or even make the cart more difficult to find than it should be. Cart location is especially important in preventing cart-abandonment, as someone might leave the site with items in their cart… when they return, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find the cart again and continue to checkout.
Studies show that changing the word or icon from “bag” to “cart” and/or adding the word “checkout” can increase conversions significantly (Sources: UXmovement, Conversionfanatics). Last point on this note, consider adding a “checkout” link that only appears next to the cart once items are placed inside. A little encouragement goes a long way.
4. Feature Products Above The Fold
Many home pages leave a lot to be desired. Think of the laziest shopper in the world. For them, and even seasoned shoppers, scrolling is the enemy. For this reason, it’s important to feature your “New Products,” “Best Sellers,” or “Our Picks” section front and center of your homepage. This immediately draws interest from users, especially in retail when everyone’s searching for the hottest new trend. If you choose to feature a carousel of images, you’d do well to triple-check that it’s easily navigable, or risk losing customer attention. Limit the number of banners on your carousel to between 3 and 5, and make sure they all contain a clear call to action and/or deal. This is the most valuable real estate on your site. Use it wisely.
3. Rethink Your Links
All links across your site should underline when hovered over. Roughly 8% of men are colorblind, so a hover color alone might not do it. Remember to keep your link format consistent, and keep links evenly spaced from one another. If you different pages share the same link, ensure that you choose one standard location for the link so the customers know where to find it and don’t go searching. If someone has to ask “where is it?” you’re already losing customers.
2. Optimize Your Checkout Gateway
Another common mistake (or rather, a common set of mistakes) happens at checkout. There’s 7 things every site should have at checkout: A way to remove an item from the cart, a “continue shopping” button, total cost, a coupon code entry box, and shipping times (with options and other info if available). The sixth and possibly most important thing to have here are trustmarks. Is the site SSL secured? Is it accredited by the BBB? Are there credit card logos to show which types are protected / can be used? Are you an authorized/ accredited distributor of whatever you’re selling? These can be major selling points to the right customer, and frankly, if the site isn’t at least SSL secure, this author and 85% of consumers won’t buy anything. Trustmarks should also be clickable, linking to another page of your site or opening a new window to more info on the credibility of the security provider. The seventh part of any good checkout is of course…
1. Recommend Additional Products
Displaying “Related Products” or “Customers Who Bought These Items Also Bought” functionality that lists additional items your customers might want to add to their cart can be a very profitable move (RE: The Psychology of Upselling). You can accomplish this with several platforms like Nosto + Magento, but regardless, it’ll definitely give you a sales boost. These are just a few of our everyday encounters at Redstage. If you have questions about any additional web design mistakes, feel free to ask in the comments. If you want the expert devs at Redstage to give your site a conversion audit, click here!
Good luck! And may the odds be forever in your favor.
No One Saw It Coming.
Earlier this month, IKEA emerged as the sleeper champ of retail’s augmented reality arms race. On the AI front, companies like Emarsys and Edgecase released ecommerce products that use advanced machine learning techniques to automate time-consuming data analysis and predictive forecasting strategies for retailers.
With such tools available to manage mass audiences and their data, this is an opportunity for tech-minded shops to get a leg up on the competition. As a result, we can expect to see some large retailers (those who fail to adapt) fall behind in a relatively short amount of time. Survivors of this retail purge will make themselves known in the next year or two as these technologies become cornerstones of ecommerce. Here are some big changes to expect in the new paradigm of online shopping that everyone will be adding to next year’s budget.
“The IKEA Effect”
Diving into Apple’s ARkit early-on, the home furniture & appliance giant successfully launched an AR app that lets users view how IKEA’s furniture will look in their home by selecting products from an online store. Released with iOS11, the brand was primed for a massive market reaction. Sure, the items still have some issues (they don’t adapt to lighting too well and their textures aren’t quite realistic), but as the first retail brand to jump into AR, the starting gun has been fired, and many companies are racing to capture value through this technology.
Redstage CEO Adam Morris sees huge potential for AR in ecommerce, stating, “There’s certain industries that I see really benefiting from AR, especially companies where seeing the item in-person plays a huge factor. I believe jewelry sales could be completely revolutionized with AR, and then on to home goods like furniture.” However, Morris notes that the ecommerce industry typically lags a few years behind the latest tech trends, relying on major user adoption for companies to jump on the bandwagon. “For instance,” he recalls, “we talked about ‘mobile-first’ for years, well before companies would begin implementing it. Most didn’t pull the trigger until they had no choice — when mobile users made up more than thirty percent of their user base. It’s easy to argue that the industry is still doing a horrible job at mobile commerce, even now with roughly two-billion online shoppers using mobile.” Perhaps the companies that have been slow to catch up with mobile will double-down on AR, or risk giving up their market share to the brands that do.
So what happens when health and beauty retailers jump onto this train? If Snapchat can already morph your face and add eye-shadow, will brands like Ulta Beauty and Maybelline step up to the challenge? How will consumers react to no-longer trying on makeup in-store, or to saving bundles of cash testing it through your app? Years down the line, this may even change the supply chain, because stores can test products without actually making them, without buying in bulk, and never worry about hemorrhaging money selling-off failed product. Will proactive make an AR filter to show what you’d look like without acne? Will Schick and Gillette face-off for a chance to show you how to carve up that beard? Furthermore, what will become of Snapchat, now that the company announced it will let brands create their own AR features? The possibilities are endless, and the brands that don’t engage AR or continue to view it as a passing trend will feel it in their bottom lines sooner or later.
Watch: Snapchat’s Latest AR Project Puts Artwork All Over US Cities
The Fully Automatic Customer Journey
Emarsys’ ecommerce platform is taking the world by storm. Using artificial intelligence to automate various customer retention and acquisition strategies, the AI uses machine learning to quickly create the perfect online shopping experience for each customer. Designed by Forrester, the system quickly crunches oceans of data about site visitors to cater to their needs and desires. After uploading two years of historical user data, ecommerce companies can maximize ROI on existing users. For new users, the Emarsys AI takes an average of 8 weeks to optimize the customer journey and activate recurring campaigns to keep engagement high. While there are many AI competitors out there, Emarsys boasts a robust, user-friendly platform that creates a truly personal experience for each shopper. As Morris describes it, “AI is becoming essential to work personalization into ecommerce, and machine learning systems offer huge advantages over rule-based systems. Marketers do not need to spend nearly as much time tweaking and administering a rule-based system when the AI is optimizing it automatically.” He adds, “We had a customer that doubled their newsletter list from 50k subscribers to 100k. However, since they did not employ any personalization strategies for what products were beingpresented, they only received a 15% increase in revenue from that channel.” As ecommerce threatens to surpass in-store sales (Business of Fashion) personalization of branded messages is critical. What are you doing to cater to each customer?
Fringe Shoppers Beware
We all do it. We’ll aimlessly surf Amazon or another online retailer looking for something cool to buy, even when we don’t know exactly what we want.
Edgecase, the company formerly known as Compare Metrics recently released a new product that helps convert shoppers who have a vague idea or even no idea of what they want. In a time where ecommerce and marketing penetrate the lives of every consumer, tools like Edgecase that help convert the shopping addicted masses are becoming hugely important. When integrated with an online store, the software makes selections for users based on what they’re thinking of (i.e. a blue dress in a certain size) rather than a specific brand. Users can also receive lists of recommended items when shopping for a specific event like a wedding or graduation. As we enter that special time of year, consider how a system built to convert fringe shoppers can have massive impact.
As the holiday season looms, companies taking advantage of AR and AI pose the biggest threat to your bottom line. As the ecommerce arms race ramps up, winners and losers will be defined by how they spend their 2018 budget. Make sure you’re planning to implement these tactics by next year’s holiday rush, or risk being left out in the cold.
+ Here’s five other ARkit projects that released with iOS11.
+ View Redtage’s outlook on the future of marketing & customer experiences.
+ Ten companies using machine learning in cool ways.