Saturday, October 31, 2015

Make Your Website Research Ready with a Brands Page

By Brian Ewing

According to a recent study, 78% of shoppers used the internet for research during the holiday season last year. Your customers are making their lists and checking them twice…online. Even if your business isn’t e-commerce, you have an opportunity to make an impact on sales with an online presence.
Prepare for Holiday Shoppers with Brands Page

What Are Consumers Researching on Store Websites?

Shopping during the holiday season is stressful. Not only are consumers trying to find the perfect gifts for loved ones, they’re fighting the crowds and calendar.
Planning is key to make the most of shopping trips. Customers plot out their course ahead of time, based on what gifts are available where. As a small business, it’s crucial to let customers know the brands and products you carry to become part of their shopping schedule.

Your Store Website & the Importance of a Brands Page

A dedicated brands page on your website is the best way to give consumers and search engines an idea of what you carry in-store. This is critical for SEO ranking and holiday research. Start by listing your most popular brands and continue expanding until you have a complete collection. A great way to organize the page is to display your brands’ logos alphabetically. See this perfect example from our subscriber, Pizazz Studio.

Beyond the Brands Page

If you’d like to take your website a step further, create separate pages for each of your major brands. Display the most popular items for the season, so consumers can quickly see you not only carry the brand, but the product they want. If you’re not selling online, make sure to place a CTA (call-to-action) message on each page asking the customer to contact the store for up-to-date inventory information. Lastly, make the logos on your brands page click-through links to the new product pages for an easy navigation experience.
Use your website to drive more sales, even if you don’t have e-commerce! Create a brands page to showcase your products and let holiday shoppers find you!

To View Original Article:

How the “Internet of Things” Will Reinvent Retail

By Natalie Bruins

Technology doesn’t wait for retailers to catch up. Consumers embrace new technology and aren’t impressed by retailers who don’t. This year, smart retailers are creating ‘smarter’ stores with the Internet of Things (IoT) reinventing the way they think about retail.

With IoT, a huge number of devices can be connected – with everything from Point of Sale systems to dressing rooms doors, able to connect. Microsoft have already tried to add a human touch to this phrase – describing it as ‘the internet of your things’ – and it’s this personalised approach which sums up how IoT should be for consumers.

Plus, for retailers, it’s about how your ‘things’, or in other words, technology, can connect to provide a better experience for your customers.

One example of how IoT is already providing a better experience for customers and better data for a brand is Disney. The park has RFID-enabled MagicBand wristbands that provide theme park access, entry to hotel rooms, and cash and card-free payment for food and any merchandise. Disney is able to track this activity to build an accurate picture of how each guest uses their services.

From Disneyland to high-tech highstreets, here’s how this new technology will reinvent retail.
  1. RFID (Radio-frequency identification) tagging
RFID is probably the most well-known example of IoT and according to Bill Hardgrave of Auburn University, the technology can have huge benefits for retailers. RFID involves tracking and counting products automatically and can give retailers 99% inventory accuracy, a 50% reduction in out-of-stocks, a 70% reduction in shrinkage, and sales lifts from 2% to 7%.
  1. Connecting home automation to ecommerce sites
There are certain products, which we all need to buy – from fridge essentials such as butter and milk to bathroom basics such as toilet roll and shower gel. IoT could allow consumers to press a button in their home to automatically order the product they need from their favourite store, delivered to their door. This innovation would connect ecommerce to the way we interact with our homes, and has the potential to allow brands to develop a more meaningful connection with consumers.
  1. Wearable technology – for retailers and consumers
From giving shop assistants the information they need on-the-go, to giving shoppers a more personalised experience, wearable technology is a branch of IoT, which could transform retail.
In store, both shop assistants and consumers will have the information they need. Shop assistants could have access to further product information, stock levels, as well as customer data. Shoppers, on the other hand, could have an enriched in-store browsing experience, with extra information, navigation and promotional offers.
  1. In-store sensors
Whether you want to attract shoppers through your doors or tempt people to browse your new collection when in-store, sensors, such as Bluetooth beacons, are an IoT technology which can help you do just that.
Picture the scene – an existing shoppers walks past your store, your in-store sensors would allow you to send that customer a personalised message about a promotional offer you are running in store. Once inside the shop, you can target shoppers based on their shopping and browsing history. This could not only enhance the customer’s experience and boost a retailer’s marketing efforts, but provide a wealth of path-to-purchase data, which can be used to optimise store layouts.

  1. Smart mirrors in fashion retail
As an extension on RFID tagging, various parts of the store could connect with the products themselves. For instance ‘smart’ mirrors could recognise which products a shoppers was wearing and then suggest other items which could be paired with that garment – allowing the shopping to visualise some fashion pairings in the mirror.

Overall, IoT looks set to begin a new, more data-driven age for retail. With connected devices, retailers can analyse shopper behaviour, as well as their own performance with greater accuracy and offer a more responsive and personalised service. Find out how we can help you prepare for a world of connected shoppers and devices on our omnichannel page.

To View Original Article:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Stop Trying to Speedily Close the Sale. Slow Down when selling Retail or You're Toast

By Bob Phibbs (The Retail Doctor)

Steve was a very good salesman.

He had enthusiasm; he had product knowledge, and he had a swagger to his presentations.  

He wanted to help as many people as possible  - to get ‘em in and quickly get ‘em out when closing a sale, so he could then go onto the next customer.

About half the shoppers who encountered him thought he was fun and a bit outrageous.

But he had a finite time he’d given himself to wait on someone. If the customer wanted to bond a bit and enjoy his company...dicey.

Once their allotted time was up, Steve would try to close the sale before the customer had been convinced of the worth of the item with some of those awful closing techniques.
Remember these 60’s closing techniques?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kit and Ace Clothing Traces Routes to Vancouver and Lululemon

Expansion of Kit and Ace Stores

The pioneer of "technical cashmere" is a famed Canadian export.

Lululemon founder and former CEO Chip Wilson has left his mark on Vancouver—and on the backsides of yoga wear devotees who have made the brand a global success. But locally, his influence doesn’t, er, “end” with stretchy pants. From giving $8 million to kickstart the Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design at Vancouver’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University, to donating the “laughing men” statues—a much-loved sculptural installation by Chinese artist Yue Minjun which, thanks to the Wilsons, now has a permanent home near Vancouver’s English Bay—the Wilson’s philanthropic imprint has been as significant as their fashion legacy.

Chip Wilson changed the way we work out. (Or at least the way we dress when we pretend we’re going to work out.) But now, Wilson’s wife, Shannon, and son J.J. want to change the way we work—and kick back—with their new fashion venture, Kit and Ace.

Launched in the summer of 2014, the first Kit and Ace opened in Vancouver’s Gastown. Occupying a premiere berth on Water Street, their flagship space is hard to ignore: from the exterior’s green painted facade with its stylized white “A,” to its clean, uncluttered interior, the space is defined by a slick yet casual aesthetic, one which is mirrored in the company’s clothing line.
Using what Kit and Ace calls “technical cashmere”—generally, a blend of Mongolian cashmere, cotton, and synthetic fabrics—their aim is to produce streetwear that is elegant, luxurious, and easy to care for. (The fabrics are preshrunk and machine washable.) Although perhaps best known for their men’s and women’s tees, the line includes everything from dresses, skirts, and scarves, to pants, hoodies, and bombers, at price points that are far from prohibitive: tee shirts start at just over $50, while the wraps top out around $300.

Expansion has been rapid, and the brand currently has retail stores across Canada and the U.S., as well as in Australia and Britain—it’s latest Vancouver outpost opened in Kitsilano this summer. As with Lululemon, Kit and Ace are committed to giving back; imagine1day, an organization founded by the Wilsons to help give Ethiopians access to education, is a prominent side project.

Ultimately, though, it’s the clothes that will make or break the brand. Like the laughing man statues at English Bay, we are … optimistic.

Guy Saddy covers the Vancouver and other beats for Travel + Leisure

View the original article here:

7 Tricks to Increasing Your Conversion Rate on Your Website

If you’ve been receiving a high volume of site traffic but aren’t seeing an increase in new subscribers or interested customers, you may have a conversion problem. If that’s the case, focusing on conversions could actually be more beneficial than trying to increase traffic any further.
After all, if you’re sending new traffic to a website that isn’t fully optimized, you’re letting potential business leads slip through the cracks.

Optimizing your website doesn’t have to be an incredibly time-consuming affair either. By implementing a few of seven simple tricks below, you can make your website more attractive to your visitors, boost conversion rates and profit as a result.

1. Use Simple Language

Clarity is king when you’re looking to persuade. If your website copy is stuffed with jargon, you’re not doing your visitors any favors.
Don’t write for companies. Don’t write for experts in your field. Don’t write to show off your expertise. Write for customers who are going to buy your product. Write for real people.
A good rule of thumb is to write as if you’re writing to a five year old. This has nothing to do with intelligence or comprehension levels, it’s simply a useful trick that forces you to break things down in a clear and coherent manner.
If you wouldn’t use a certain word or phrase in regular conversation, cut it out or reword the sentence.

2. Make Your Value Proposition Clear

Your value proposition is the main reason your customers are going to buy from you. It’s what differentiates you from your competition and is the key element that persuades your customers to take action.
To craft a good value proposition you need to be clear about what your company offers and how it’s unique. This must be woven together with a clear description of the value you’re going to deliver to your visitor.
Itunes has an incredible value proposition that immediately makes you understand their offer.
It’s important to utilize split-testing (mentioned below) to really nail down your value proposition and ensure you’re speaking directly to the heart of your customers’ needs.

3. Perform Simple Split-Testing


Google Content Experiments enables you to test and track different variations of your website.
One of the best ways of increasing your conversion rate is to split-test aspects of your website to see what’s actually working. You can play the guessing game all you want but it’s hard to beat data.
To split test certain pages on your website, you can use a tool like Google Content Experiments (found inside Google Analytics). This allows you to create two different versions of your page, one with a slightly modified element. The tool will direct 50% of the traffic to one page and the other 50% to the second page. The page with the higher conversion wins!
The most important elements of your website you’ll want to test are: your page headline, the layout of your website, your call-to-action, any colors that are used, any media used, and overall layout of your content.

4. Ensure You Have an Active Sales Funnel

You need to be sure you’re asking for the sale at the right phase of the buying cycle. Sometimes, when a visitor lands on your website they aren’t ready to buy from you yet. When you push for the sale too soon, you risk making potential purchasers uncomfortable and driving them away from your site.
Many sales processes benefit from slowing things down a touch, providing value and building trust before you ask customers to put money on the line.
The best way to build trust and showcase your expertise is by implementing the repeatable process below:
  1. Create consistently valuable advice through your blog and other forms of content.
  2. Offer a free report, or other valuable offer, in exchange for an email address.
  3. Give users valuable content via email over time.
  4. Ask for the sale.

5. Build a Higher Degree of Trust

We only buy things from people we trust. By incorporating specific “trust builders” into your website, you’ll increase your chances  of your customers taking the desired action. Here are some evergreen options:
  • Showcase customer support in the form of testimonials, social proof, and case studies.
  • Highlight your expertise by linking to any third-party organizations, local groups or relevant publications that have vouched for your company in the past.
  • Include an About page and provide multiple means of contacting your company directly.
  • Show visitors you’re approachable with realistic company and staff photos and make sure your site projects a professional air.

6. Simplify the Decision Making Process

Your goal should be to make taking action as simple for your visitor as possible. The highest converting websites are those which are the most intuitive and easy to use. Could someone with very little technical knowledge sign up for your newsletter? Or schedule a free consultation? Use the tips below to nudge your website in the right direction:
  • Hold your visitor’s hand: Always guide your users towards the action you want them to take. Leave nothing up to chance. Make the next step the easiest and most logical step to take.
  • Make it easy to sign up: The less fields you require from your visitor, the better the chances of them filling in a sign-up form. When you’re asking users to fill out an opt-in form, try to reduce required form data to the absolute essentials.
  • Minimize your visitor’s options: The more choices you ask your users to make, the more likely it is they’ll do nothing at all. Make it easy on your visitors by limiting the number of options put before them at any given time.

7. Utilize Proof Wherever Possible

Whenever you make a claim about a product or service you need to back it up with some kind of proof. The larger the request you’re making, the more proof you’re going to need.
For instance, if you’re trying to get a user to part with their email address, a simple testimonial from an authority or past customer will do. If you’re looking for them to purchase, more might be required.
When you’re trying to get your visitor to take a higher-level action, you’re going to need to provide more evidence. Some solid methods of doing this include:
  • Testimonials from past customers who’ve already achieved stellar results using your product or service.
  • Before-and-after case studies from customers.
  • Results from studies which support your claims.
  • Number of followers or subscribers (if the numbers are large enough).

8. (Bonus) Remove All Distractions

If you’re distracting users with pop-ups, sidebars and too many requests, your visitor won’t be able to focus. 
The more visual distractions you have, the harder it is for someone to make a decision. If your website  utilizes any landing pages, or special consulting or service pages, then consider removing the following elements:
  • Unnecessary navigation menus.
  • Any sidebars or distracting headers.
  • Images and videos that aren’t associated with your product.
If it’s not directly related to the topic of the page, remove it.

In Closing

Increasing your conversions doesn’t have to be difficult. However, it does require an in-depth understanding of your customer and the ability to consistently experiment.

Remember, optimizing your conversion rate is a long-term game. Over time, you’ll learn more about your market and you’ll be able to react ever more swiftly to better serve your customers’ needs.
By implementing a few of the tricks above, you’ll be able to create an optimization strategy that evolves with your business over time and substantially boost profits.

Any conversion tips we missed? Share your favorite ones in the comments below! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

6 Social Media Strategies Every Small Business Should Try

All businesses, especially small businesses, must endeavor to understand and maximize their use of social media to grow their business.

While many business owners may be quick to dismiss social media as part of their marketing, social media offers almost many possibilities for engaging with customers – both existing and new.
Here are six ideas to get you started on maximizing your use of social media.

  1. Run a Contest
One of the easiest ways to create buzz around your business is to run a contest on your social channels. Are you a restaurant? Ask your followers to choose the next dessert you add to your menu and offer the winner a free dinner. If you’re a local dog grooming business, ask for submissions for the cutest dog – winner gets a month’s worth of grooming services!

Running a contest will give you instant popularity on social channels among your already loyal fans and their friends. You don’t have to give away much and you stand to gain a lot by getting people excited about your business and the potential of winning.
  1. Get Reviews
Positive reviews are crucial for small businesses. Local businesses such as restaurants, coffee shops and auto shops can benefit from the endorsement of happy customers.

Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews about your business on social platforms like Yelp, Google+ or Facebook. Reviews will go a long way in helping you gain new business. It even matters when it comes to ranking for local searches.

  1. Give Something Away
Everyone loves freebies. An easy way to get people in the door is to give something away. We’re not saying give the house away – just something to get people to get excited about your business.

If you’re a local yogurt shop give free yogurt to the first 25 people who show up for a special event or date. If it’s a holiday, give something away for those showing true holiday spirit. A restaurant or bar? Free appetizer with drink purchase.

The opportunities are endless. A small giveaway will get people in the door and get them to spend.

  1. Provide Exclusive Offers
A great way to keep your followers and fans engaged is to provide them a reason to keep coming back to your website or social profiles. Providing exclusive offers for Facebook fans or the like is an instant way to reward your fans and followers. Not only will they continue to be loyal, but they will continue to be long-time customers.

Offer special coupon codes or products just for your social followers and you’ll soon start growing your reach on social platforms. 

  1. Encourage Sharing
There’s no better testimonial than a happy customer enjoying your product or service. Encourage your customers to share their experience with your business or product on social media

If you’re a local shoe boutique, encourage your customers to share photos of their new purchases. A hair salon? How about that great new haircut? A restaurant? How about that awesome burger photo?

Great engagement with your existing customers is a great way to let other potential customers know just how much your customers love your service or product.
  1. Say Thanks
Your customers are the reason you’re in business. Thank them every opportunity you can! Share handwritten thank you notes or say thanks to your customers for an anniversary or successful event.

Show customers you appreciate them thanking them when they leave a positive review about your business or products or when they share their satisfaction with your services or products with friends. Not only will they feel great about doing business with you, but everyone on social media will see it too!

Social Media for Business – Unlimited Possibilities
Social media offers business owners a multitude of opportunities to engage, endorse, and encourage future purchases and customers. Rather than shying away from social media, small businesses should embrace social media as one of the greatest and most inexpensive tools for reaching new customers and building loyalty.

These six strategies are just the beginning of what you can do with social media!
To View Original Article:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Is Your Body Language Telling Customers To Go Away? 9 Ways To Improve Your Non-Verbal Skills

By Bob Phibbs (The Retail Doctor)

Looking for how non-verbal communication impacts sales? Your body language sends wordless cues long before you try to close a sale.

I was headed home across the LA freeways at 2:30am to my home.  Dog-tired and just one exit shy of my offramp, I saw flashing red lights behind me.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Very Retail Halloween 2015

                                Halloween is upon us!
As all you ghastly ghouls and ghosts prepare for these festive nights it is quite clear that the pumpkin spirit is already heavily in the  autumn air. We know that spending all day indoors in order to pay those bills that just never seem to end, can sometimes be a drag on your holiday spirit, but here at One Step we encourage the Halloween spirit and festivities in our office!  We found some ways for you to celebrate a retail-tastic Halloween with some spooky retail displays, a classy pumpkin or two, and some of our favorite, yet appropriate costumes for work.

Photo from

Stained floors, ruined clothes, flies as pumpkins begin to rot are all pretty good reasons to keep your home and retail store pumpkin free, yet no October display is complete without one. By painting and simply decorating your pumpkin you branch into the inspiring world of crafting and refrain from pumpkin disembowelment. With a little white paint, some black rhinestones, and your handy glue gun you can transform your lumpy orange pumpkin into a beautiful, sophisticated, and overall tasteful centerpiece to your retail store.

Photo from

If the white and black rhinestone beauty just doesn't fit into your style, try this one on for size. By pulling any loose strands of fabric you may have laying around and your ever so useful glue gun in hand you can create a unique pumpkin of your very own. One that is silly, crafty, and expels an air of individuality that simply must find its way into every retail store. Dress not only your mannequins up, but get some of your favorite fabric on this iconic autumn centerpiece as well.

Photo from


Retail Displays

What we believe here at One Step is that fun never has to be hard. With a simple trip to your neighborhood market, you can leave with some masks, candies,  holiday bags, cobwebs, and toys and you got yourself the makings of a great retail display for the holiday season. The best displays are not those where cobwebs and red food coloring are just thrown into the mix, but rather it is when you learn to create a unique definition of Halloween that applies solely to your store and what you are selling. Engulf a mannequin in candies and you will have drooling and excited children bringing their parents in to your store. If energized 8 year olds are just not your target market, take it from Bergdorf Goodman's crystalized spider web below and attract only those with an eye for high fashion and a Halloween spirit.
Photo from
              Need some costume inspiration? Look no further!
Photo from

While at work it goes without saying that professionalism in your attire is just a must, but what about on the one day of the year where the work space and your creativity should be intertwined? Dressing up can be work appropriate too if you plan just right. For instance these couples dressed as America's favorite and most iconic dolls while not infringing on any of their abilities to get their work done.

Photo from

Have you been called super because your sales are just off the roof? Or is it because you're customer reviews have just been nothing short of excellence? How about you give them two reasons to call you super on Halloween with this simple look underneath your attire. Keeping it work appropriate with a little holiday spirit just a button away.

Better yet, let's make this Halloween a group effort just like these folks. With some easy correspondence you can have your entire team of workers dressed in one appropriate theme and let the creativity flow. Nothing exemplifies a retail company with a family vibe like dressing up together. 

Photo from

So there you have it folks, from dressing up your store to dressing yourself, One Step wants you to make the most of this Halloween season. Most importantly, remember that you can make work fun for you and your company, a happy atmosphere brings in a happy customer.

                       Don't forget to make this Halloween a fright you won't forget!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

3 Sales Development Tips for Improved Messaging

By Michaela Cheevers

Throughout the creation of our guide The Sales Development Messaging Toolkit we took a hard look at the sales development function and the type of email, voicemail, and social selling strategies that are necessary to succeed in sales. With over 14 years of experience managing teams of SDRs for various clients, we have found the best strategies to write emails, voicemails, and social messages. However, finding the “easy” method of scripting these just doesn’t cut it anymore. There is a unique formula that requires a combination of skill and technology to ensure your SDRs are engaging with prospects and maximizing their efforts. The following is a redactment from our guide.
To get your SDRs started on the path to improving their messaging strategies, here are a few of our top sales development tips:

Watch Your Tone in Email Messaging

You may need to coach your reps, especially those who ar
e new to the business world, to maintain a professional tone in their emails. Our CEO and Co-Founder, Peter Gracey, went into great detail about the current trend in today’s sales development emails. If your SDRs have spoken with their prospect in the past and established a rapport with them, they can generally be more casual in their correspondence, but otherwise, it’s best to err on the polite side. Ensure that your reps are performing a routine spelling and grammar check. Also, make sure your reps avoid asking too many questions in introductory emails, as prospects will immediately recognize this sales tactic and will most likely pass over the email; instead, they should provide statements about their product or service’s effectiveness and ask when a good time is to speak with them.

Don’t Be Redundant in Voicemails

Don’t waste precious seconds on redundancy, as time is extremely valuable when leaving a voicemail. Also, avoid sentences like, “We are experts in the field of…,” or “We’re the world leaders in…” Your reps will come off as conceited, and nobody wants to hear jargon. Try to be more human. Using phrases such as “When we last spoke…” or “When we discussed this a few months ago…,” will personalize your conversation, and your prospect will be more willing to re-engage.

Take Advantage of Social Media

Unfortunately, only 5% of B2B sales teams consider social media a successful lead generation method (Ken Krogue). However, reps who use social selling are 50% more likely to meet or exceed their sales quota (Liz Gelb-O’Connor). In fact, 72.6% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often (Aberdeen). The first message that your rep sends out to a potential prospect should be informative and not openly salesy. When you’re getting to know someone on social media, it’s good to incorporate social listening as well. Does the prospect publish on LinkedIn? What kinds of tweets do they post?

To view original article:

How big data can help retailers capitalise on e-commerce growth

By Mike Iaccarino

Earnings from the second quarter of 2015 indicated that e-commerce retailers are doing better than ever before. In fact, online sales are growing faster than store sales by 5 fold plus.

To capitalise on this growth, retailers are making major investments in e-commerce to make shopping online as convenient and efficient as possible. E-commerce may be at an all-time high, but if retailers do not meet consumer demand for personalisation and intuitiveness, they’ll risk significant financial loss.

The most innovative retailers are partnering with data providers with expansive business and consumer databases to meet customer experience expectations. Given the increasing number of consumers shopping online across thousands of sites, it’s important for brands to stand out amongst the noise. Quality data can give marketers unique insights about key audiences so they can target with highly personalised digital marketing efforts and ultimately provide a more convenient shopping experience.

Consumers are so numb to branded marketing content that without a data-driven strategy that reaches the right audience at the right time, brands and retailers will risk losing out on revenue to competitors with more personalised and convenient paths to purchase. But with the right data strategy, brands can compete with major players within any given industry. Here are three ways big data can help brands continue to see success in a growing e-commerce space.


With quality data, retailers can break through the constant stream of online marketing messaging by understanding consumers’ unique wants and needs. This strengthens the relationship between the retailer and consumer and maximises the opportunity for sales.

Email marketing content should be tailored according to the customer’s recent purchases, or demographics. And the same goes for other digital advertising and even e-commerce sites themselves. Marketing content should always be unique to each customer’s history and likely interests, and the right data can make this happen.

As e-commerce becomes a part of everyday life for consumers, brands need to focus their efforts on partnerships with marketing tech providers that can turn data into actionable insights and allow for a deeper understanding of consumers and the tools to effectively engage them. Without these tools and insights it’s difficult for retailers to continue to gain steam among the large crowd of e-commerce players.

Go mobile

Quality data can also help brands improve mobile efforts. The value of mobile for marketing lies with its immediacy. Marketers can push highly personalised marketing content to consumers based on their current location. Time sensitive, location-based deals can encourage consumers to make purchases on the spot – a feat that tends to be difficult with generic marketing strategies.
However, consumers are hesitant to willingly provide personal information through mobile apps. A recent Forrester study found that only about a third of survey respondents are willing to share location and enable push notifications in retail apps, and many consumers aren’t sold on that technology’s value. Retailers need to partner with data providers that expand mobile reach and offer valuable data on where their customers are going on the Web, their purchasing behaviours and location-based information.

Additionally, retailers should know where are your audiences are spending most of their time on social media; is it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat or Pinterest? Ensure your social brand is engaging with your customers and prospects wherever they are.


Retailers can also use data to analyse which markets will be most successful for them to invest their time and resources. A retailer should use demographic and purchase history data about its key audiences to determine where to use advertising spend and promote deals most strategically. For example, marketing on Facebook might not be effective for younger shoppers today given the decreasing use of the site among younger age groups in recent years.

The best data will give brands the power to not only predict behaviours and act accordingly but also measure outcomes. Use A/B testing to determine the effectiveness of different email subject lines, sites for advertising or even the content included within marketing tactics. Make note of significant differences and alter strategies moving forward. Without the right data, it’s easy to waste money on advertising that is not reaching the right audience or lacks content that motivates shoppers to click through to an e-commerce site. And given the growth of e-commerce in recent months, it’s crucial that digital marketing efforts are as efficient as possible.
E-commerce earnings are increasing exponentially, but this doesn’t mean that retailers can coast. To be most successful in a market saturated with both brands and retailers, the best e-commerce sellers will invest in quality data to stand out among the competition.

Data can help brands reach customers with personalised messaging, improve mobile strategies and analyse the outcomes of different channels and strategies to allocate resources effectively.

To view original article:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Back to Basics: How to relate to your customers in today's world


Do you know if your content is resonating with your audience? Do you know who exists in your audience? Do you use Buyer Personas to build targeted content? If so, how do you build those personas?

Personalized, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important moving into 2016 and beyond. Building strong relationships with your customers will become more important in this ever diversified digital world. This is not new, it's just something we haven't been doing a great job at.

Getting back to basics

The Furrow is a magazine about agriculture, farming and any other topic that is relevant and interesting to the average farmer. John Deere first produced this content in 1895. You could say
that this is this first piece of content marketing (that we can reference anyway) and still exists today. 
John Deere started his company by listening and understanding his customers. John was able to talk to his customers face-to-face to hear their struggles and build products that suited their needs. John passed away before The Furrow was first published, but it is based on his legacy of understanding your customers and providing them with information suited to their interests and needs.
In today's world, we don't have the opportunity to interact with each of our customers face-to-face. Our customers are more diverse and unique than ever before, they are not located down the road from you, they are spread out all over the country or world. So, how do we create a customer experience that is unique and personalized?
Buyer Personas are not a new concept, but how we build them is. You likely use personas to create your Marketing strategies and plan your content. But how are you defining these target segments?

Let's talk about demographic targeting

Who is your target market? Way back, you may have defined it as "Females aged 18-49". In the 80's, Marketers realized this wasn't enough and introduced 'Generational Targeting', defining consumers not just by age, but also by social, economic, demographic and psychographic factors. Then 'Cohort targeting', which was centered around the life path of a target segment. We seemed to have stopped the evolution of targeting there, for the most part.
With all of the complex data and information about consumers that we have today, why are we still basing targeting around simple demographics like age, location, gender, income? It's so common to hear a market defined as "Females aged 18-24, who attend College and love beauty products". Ok, so that's more complex than just demo's, but one girl attending college aged 23 who wears makeup may be the MVP of the Basketball team and really into EDM and the bar scene. While, another 23-year-old girl attending the same college who wears makeup is First Chair Cellist in the school orchestra and is interested in Yo-yo's (my kinda girl).  I'm sure you are getting my drift here.
It is a Buyer's market. Today's consumers are more informed than ever before. They could know more about your company and product than your frontline sales people do. They are sophisticated and demanding (rightfully so). Today's buyers (not just limited to Millenials), don't want to be lumped into a category that a Marketing team came up with based on past customer data and opinions. They want to feel understood, they want to be delighted, they want to trust you.
Today's consumers are not demographics, they are people. They are individuals with diverse interests and they demand more from you.

Defining target market by interest profiles

It is not realistic to think that a company today can market face-to-face or even one-to-one to ALL of their customers. The availability of complex data and information, however, gets us closer to offering a 'one-on-one' experience. At Affinio, we believe that target markets can't be limited by a stagnant description of an audience based on demographics. We believe in understanding your customer through what they are interested in, no matter their age, allowing you to understand the diverse Buyer Personas that exist within your audience and understanding them through what they are interested in and care about most.
Winter is coming (ughh) and that means technical apparel to keep you warm - at least it does here in Canada. We're big fans of Patagonia here at Affinio, so we wanted to take a peek at who the other Patagonia fans are. For this, we used the Affinio Platform to analyze the social connections that exist within Patagonia's twitter audience, segmented the members into Tribes of people with similar interests, then were able to understand Patagonia's fans on a more personal level.

Visualization of Patagonia's audience

Not surprisingly, a lot of these communities are centered around sports and adventure. Notice, however, that people that may have been traditionally grouped together in a "US Male adventurists, aged 30-45", are broken out into many tribes. These are not pre-defined interest categories. They are unsupervised, naturally formed clusters based on what else and who else Patagonia's followers follow. Let's look at a few examples of these tribes.

After reviewing these examples of interest-based tribe summaries, would you market to these people in the same way? Do you think that the 'Runners' use Patagonia gear in the same way that the 'Fishers' do? Do you think that all people that exist within the 'Runner' tribe are a similar age or gender? Maybe, but why would we limit ourselves to that when we can relate to these people based on their interests and what they care about most. 
Demographics are not People. Interests are a better way to understand who your individual customers are and what they care about most. Once you understand this, you are better able to connect with your customer segments through personalization leading to your customers feeling better understood and resulting in a trusting relationship. 

To View Original Article:

How to Turn Non-Customers into Customers

By Kizer and Bender

 Sometimes, you just have to go back to the basics and take another look at how you are doing business. Our world has changed; customers have plenty of choices when it comes to buying what you sell. Customers themselves have changed: different generations want different things. And Gen Y and Gen Z are dragging some retailers kicking and screaming into using new technologies. But make no mistake, you will have to adapt to these new ways of doing business.
We get lots of questions these days about how to conduct business. Is there a new etiquette? The answer to that question is yes. And no. Consistently great customer service is still great customer service but it’s not always enough. Let’s take a look at three of the challenges and opportunities facing retailers today:
“Do I have to repair or service products that people purchase elsewhere?”
The easy answer is, you don’t have to, but if you want to stay in business you need to serve the people who need your help.
It costs up to five times as much to get a new customer than it does to keep an old one happy. Think about that for a moment. If a potential new customer comes to your store seeking help, help her. You didn’t get his first sale, so don’t miss the second. If you turn her away, you are not only walking potential sales, you are hurting your store’s reputation and potentially creating harmful word of mouth.  Who wants to be known as the store that isn’t willing to help?
It’s fair to charge for your services, just smile and explain your policy. Hang a sign in your store that politely tells these potential customers what you can do for them, and what it will cost. Then get to work turning them into lifelong fans of your store.
“What about customers who buy online or from another retailer and come to me for advice on how to use the product?”

This is an age old dilemma facing all retailers. We’ve met retailers who are openly hostile with customers like this who have the audacity to ask for their help. And we’ve met retailers who embrace the opportunity to get their future business. Think outside of the box! We know a scrapbook retailer who was getting killed on Cricut machines – everyone wanted them, but the big boxes were selling them for less than her cost. So she got creative and started a series of Cricut training classes, and people lined up to attend. At the end of each class, she gave attendees a coupon they could use for future purchases in her store.
So, offer classes and invite these customers to attend. Host in-store clinics where you teach the basics. And sell private lesson packages. Hang a sign in the window, and on the sales floor, that reads something like this, “It’s one thing to have a new toy, it quite another to know how much fun it can be when you know how to use it properly. We’re here to help!” Add this message to your website and social medias. Get the word out that your store is the Go-To store!
Browsers drive me crazy. I need buyers.”

Questions like this make us scratch our heads, wondering why the person who asked it ever got into retailing.
There’s a home décor store not too far from where Georganne lives, and she and the owner have become friends. It’s a fun place to go and get ideas and to dream about changing or updating your home. Georganne used to go there a lot, and over the years she made many purchases, but then she stopped going there because the owner got snotty when she did not buy. Here’s the thing: Your store has an ambiance that customers can feel when they enter the front door. This ambiance comes directly from the owners or managers personality. In other words, if you’re not happy, customers can feel it.
Once a shopper enters your store there is a world of possibility to turn them into buyers. Show them around, if they don’t buy this time how they are treated will determine if they come back. Sign them up for your newsletter and email blasts. Tell them about events and promotions, offer ideas, and invite them to hang with you on social media. You know the drill!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Future Of Brands In A One-Touch World

By Doug Stephens

Only a short time ago, the value that brands provided to consumers was chiefly two things – familiarity and consistency. Shoppers had so little access to objective information about products and services that, amid a field of unknown and untrusted alternatives, a familiar brand logo, jingle or tag line provided the much-needed cognitive shorthand to help them confidently choose.  If you were a traveller in a strange city, you needed only to find a familiar Hilton, Marriott or Holiday Inn logo to have a consistently predictable experience. If you were shopping for beer, you knew what to expect from Budweiser or Miller – there were no surprises. Familiar and predictable, that’s what consumers wanted from brands and that’s exactly what many big brands gave them.

All this has now changed.  Shoppers are no longer blind to their options.  With a couple of taps of their smartphone they can gather an immediate and even geospatial understanding of product and service alternatives available to them in the moment.  Moreover, they can easily evaluate those alternatives by seeing what others think.  They can take virtual tours of stores, restaurants and hotels, watch videos of products and services.  They can be completely and objectively informed in a way that was unimaginable only 20 years ago

Consequently, shoppers – especially young shoppers – are no longer as dependent on brands to serve as familiar shortcuts to a decision. Now, the same traveller in a strange city can just as easily use their mobile device to find an outstanding boutique hotel to stay in.  The beer drinker can quickly gather online recommendations to learn what local craft beers are popular. Instead of deferring to the familiar and predictable, the shopper can confidently venture out to discover the new and exciting in a risk-free way.

The New Value Of Brands

So, if we no longer need brands to be beacons of familiarity and predictability, then what do we expect of them?  I believe that now, more than ever, we need brands to be innovators, always working to push us out of our comfort zone by offering new products, new experiences and new services that interest or excite us.   We now look to brands to catalyze change…constant change.

Some brands seem to implicitly get this.  Starbucks, for example, is constantly introducing new products, services, technologies and store concepts into their model.  Just when it seems they might become predictable, they introduce something new to stoke our interest and augment the brand’s appeal.

Amazon too is continually proffering new services, devices, concepts and products. And while some are quick to point at Amazon’s failures, like Fire Phone for example, I would argue that even those failures can and should be counted as strategic victories because, if nothing else, they reaffirm their position as an innovator.

Even 114-year-old Nordstrom is constantly moving its customers along a continuum of innovation like its recently introduced shop by text program.  While it would certainly be easier for Nordstrom to rest on its legendary laurels of superior customer service, it clearly recognizes that its role as a major brand lies in innovating beyond the familiar.

Other brands, however, like Volvo, McDonalds, Abercrombie & Fitch and Macy’s – to name only a few – have chosen to stick to the path of familiarity and dependability.  They have also suffered the consequences of doing so, with poor sales and declining customer loyalty.

Making The Cut

So, do brands still have value in the digital age?  Certainly they do.  But that value no longer lies in faithfully delivering the familiar but rather in revealing the unknown; to no longer be predictable but rather to be constantly surprising.

For most major brands this will require a complete organizational re-wiring – a top-to-bottom overhaul of their people, their beliefs and their manifesto and above all, a willingness to risk. This isn’t easy.  In fact, it very often proves impossible for organizations to alter the D.N.A that got them where they are.  But in a world of one-touch discovery, a relentless pursuit of quantum innovation is the only alternative brands have left.

To View Original Article:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How to Use The Zoom Effect To Avoid Confusing Customers

By Melanie McIntosh

Imagine a photograph of a Monarch butterfly
When you see the photograph you can immediately recognize it from its black-orange-white wing pattern. If you zoom in with camera and photograph a portion of the wing, you still might recognize the pattern of shapes and colours. But if you look at the wing in a microscope on low power, you start to see the scales on the wing. And on an even higher magnification, you see even more detail.

Introducing the zoom effect
When you look at the butterfly at such a high level of detail, you can no longer see an image of a butterfly. This is the zoom effect. If you saw this detail first, you would have no idea what you were looking at.

The zoom effect also happens in stores
Often stores have merchandise artfully arranged on tables, shelves and display areas.  It’s as if the store displays are a bunch of different photographs taken through a microscope. Each photograph is very beautiful.

What’s wrong with the zoom effect?

 The zoom effect is just what you get as you move closer and closer to an object.
The problem is that when we don’t understand the zoom effect, customers get confused.  A collection of beautiful displays won’t be effective, if the customer doesn’t understand how the store is organized.  An organized shelf won’t look attractive if it doesn’t seem  balanced with the shelves around it.

When the details look good, but the overall layout of the store is confusing, it’s hard for customers to understand how each display relates to another. What they’re missing is the big picture.
Shoppers won’t show their confusion by stumbling out of the store. But they’ll buy less then they would in a store that organizes the merchandise in a way that is easy to understand.

How do you use the zoom effect to organize the store?
Start backwards.
Don’t start with the displays. Or organizing a shelf. Start with the big picture, and then zoom in. Just like you would with a camera.

There are three ‘shots’ you need for the zoom effect:
1) Panorama shot
2) Medium shot
3) Close-up

1) Panorama shot
The panorama shot is the view of the whole store. This is what customers see when approaching the store, or coming in the door. In a glance, customers take in the entire picture. The brain very quickly maps out the organization of the store.

It’s important that this panorama view is simple and easy for the customer to take in that glance. If it’s too confusing, the customer gets overwhelmed.

Organize the merchandise into three distinct stories. While your merchandise might change every season, each of the three stories will have it’s own section of the store. These sections will rarely change.

For fashion related goods such as; clothing, home décor, gifts and tableware; each story would be a colour, pattern or style theme. A clothing store might have: casual/weekend wear, basics, urban/career wear.

For a hardware store the three stories might be: yard and garden, interiors, lumber.
A computer store might have: computers and hardware, software and accessories, cameras and camera gear.

The three stories will help customers quickly get oriented to the store layout to find what they want. That brings us to the next level of detail.

2) Medium shot
The medium shot is where the customer sees a department or section of the store. Just like a photograph, the medium shot in the store has a foreground, middle ground and background.

The foreground is made up of the fixtures at the front of the department, near the main aisle. These fixtures welcome the customer to the department, and frame the view of the rest of the department.
The front fixtures may be lower than fixtures in the centre of the department, so the viewer can see the merchandise behind them. Tables are often used in this location.

Middle ground
The middle ground is usually the biggest area on the floor. This is everything between the foreground and background. It will consist of most of your floor fixtures. In this area there may be gondolas arranged in rows. In a clothing store it could be 4-way racks, tables and other merchandise fixtures. When organizing these fixtures, it is important that they are grouped to provide a view to the back wall. The middle ground fixture provide a frame for the background.

Within the middle ground, merchandise is organized in categories, or groups, of similar merchandise. It is important to group merchandise together in a way that is logical and based on the way your customers shop. Organize aisles and fixtures so that items that will be used together are placed in close proximity to each other. This makes it easy for customers to find everything they need in one area.

A yard and garden department in a hardware store might have categories such as:
Gardening: seeds, pots, hand tools, stakes
General Yard Tools: hoses, rakes, large garden tools
Lawn Maintenance: seed, fertilizers, mowers
Once all your categories are organized in the middle ground, let’s look at the background.

The background is the back wall of the department. At least part of the background should be visible at the end of a main aisle, or above the middle ground fixtures. The background provides a destination.

Often a back wall features a key display and spotlighting to draw customers in through the store. It could also present department signs or lifestyle graphics that demonstrate products being used. Usually customers will see the back wall of a department from a distance, so large signs, graphics or some displays can be placed above eye level. These elements are used to inform the customer about what they’ll find in that department.

Now that we know how to organize the middle ground, let’s look at the close-up shot.

3) Close-up
The close-up is where you organize the details. The close-up deals with organizing merchandise on a rack, shelf, table-top or display area.

This is where you focus on display techniques that encourage shoppers to touch and browse merchandise. The close-up shots are about creating artistic and appealing presentations. Shelves will present the variety of styles and assortments of colour.

In key displays, you will also cross-merchandise products from different categories, to demonstrate how they are used together.

Pulling it all together
All three shots are needed to tell a good visual story. If you focus on beautiful displays, but don’t consider the overall layout and organization of the store, sales may suffer. Create a strong organizational structure with panorama and medium shots to make your close-ups shine

1) Panorama shot
The panorama shots give the wide angle view to help customers understand the layout of the store.
2) Medium shot
The medium shots organize categories in a way that customer find easy to understand. Merchandising complimentary categories together helps boost sales.
3) Close-up shot
The close-up shots are where you create appealing and artistic displays to encourage shoppers to pick up the merchandise.
Just like photographs of a butterfly, the panorama shot helps us to understand the beauty of the close-up.

To View the Original Article: