Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Mid-year catch-up: the 6 most popular Insight articles

A regular section of the weekly CatalogueCatalogues newsletter, Insight offers tactical tips and strategic advice on a different topic in each issue. The following were most popular articles with enewsletter subscribers in the first half of 2012 as measured by click-throughs to the Direct Commerce website.

1. January Catalogue Log
In a nutshell: we look at the reasons why we only received 61 catalogues in January.

2. Five tips for getting ahead on Pinterest
In a nutshell: handy advice to make the most of this increasingly popular social network.

3. Top tips to taking advantage of Valentine’s Day online
In a nutshell: a selection of tips to make the most of Valentine’s Day, which could easily be applied to other key retail events. Olympics, anyone?

4. Seven tactics to make email marketing more personal
In a nutshell: research reveals three-quarters of UK etailers fail to personalise email communications, so what can you do about that?

5. Six tips on choosing an ecommerce provider
In a nutshell: choosing the right ecommerce provider and ultimately the right ecommerce platform on which to run your website can be a difficult decision. But it doesn’t have to be.

6. What we learned from 48 Valentine’s Day emails
In a nutshell: in our second Valentine-themed post of the top six, we explore what the most romantic day of the year means in terms of email marketing. --MT

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Soccer, search engines and sales

The UK has been gripped over the past couple of weeks with the European championships in Ukraine and Poland, and here in the Direct Commerce office, we’ve received plenty of emails from retailers promoting their latest footy-related offers (We particularly liked SportsDirect's effort, below, which landed in our inbox just moments after the final whistle).

But in a blog on its website, Heiler, a Germany-based content management system provider, points out many online retailers could be missing a trick by failing to optimise their website for topical searches.

Heiler highlights that during the 2008 European Football Championship, Germany manager Joachim Low wore a special shirt during the tournament in Austria and Switzerland. The piece of clothing received huge attention and became known as the “Shirt of the Nation” with supporters searching on Google using phrases like Jogi Low Shirt because nobody knew where the shirt had come from.

The shirt turned out to be from Strenesse, a German apparel retailer, which then had to work hard to ensure it was getting the conversions from Google searches for Jogi Löw Shirt—as well as ensure it was online and in stock.

While England manager Roy Hodgson may not be as dapper as his German counterpart, retailers will have to keep a close eye on other talking points emerging during the games in order to maximise sales opportunities. The faster retailers set up the right keywords and assign them to their products, the more they will sell online and the more revenue will be generated.--JD

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Dart’s data: the jubilee issue

The Queen’s diamond jubilee was a reason for mass celebration across the country with millions watching the river pageant, concert and the procession over an extended bank holiday weekend. What’s more, according to a report by ecommerce services provider Venda, retailers were also in jubilant mood for other reasons.

Over the long weekend in June, Venda saw a 38 percent increase in online transactions across its customer base, which includes companies such as Heal’s, Emma Bridgewater and Accessorize, with a 34 percent increase in sales value. The report shows that British brands on the Venda platform saw sales more than double compared to last year’s spring bank holiday period with gifts performing particularly well, increasing by 60 percent and sales values by 77 percent compared to last year’s spring bank holiday.

The Venda study also highlights that the Queen’s diamond jubilee in comparison with the royal wedding in April 2011 saw online retailers’ transaction volume and values increase by 176 percent. Brands strongly associated with “Britishness” saw sales values increase to six times the amount spent during the royal wedding weekend.

What this demonstrates is that brands seized the opportunity to capitalise on their Britishness to make the most of this key retail period. With the economy in a fragile state, retailers were looking to the bank holiday weekend for a much needed boost; and according to these stats, many achieved it.

Looking ahead, those retailers that have an event-led retail strategy in place will be best placed to maximise their sales opportunities in the months to come.--JD

Friday, 8 June 2012

The winner takes it all

The winner takes it all, the loser standing small. Or so the Abba song goes. And it’s true when it comes to online competitions.

Think about it, as an online retailer, how often have you emailed entrants to tell them they haven’t won? It’s a missed opportunity if you ask me—and Topshop agrees.

Here’s an email idea to steal: email everyone who entered your most recent prize draw but didn’t win a brief commiseration note. What’s in it for you? It’s a great excuse to communicate with customers who are clearly engaged with your brand and try to tempt them to spend some money with you.--MT

Thursday, 7 June 2012

May Catalogue Log

As well as familiar names such as Crew Clothing, Lands’ End, Charles Tyrwhitt and 4imprint, it was great to see the Catalogue Log track new catalogue titles last month. It was also interesting to note that more than 60 percent of the 114 catalogues we logged featured a special offer of some sort on their front cover: exactly half of them featured a sale or discount, 21 percent promoted free shipping and almost 9 percent touted a free gift with purchase.

Among the new additions to the Catalogue Log was Swimwear365, the latest title from Freemans Grattan Holdings. Featuring 48 pages of swimwear and hot-weather essentials, Swimwear 365 sought to tempt us into placing our first order with a 20 percent discount.

ILoveGorgeous sent us its Summer 2012 catalogue of girls’ apparel, featuring some pretty cool sparkly plimsolls that made me wish I was eight years old again and able to carry off the look. ILoveGorgeous used free delivery and free returns as its attention grabber--just in case the plimsolls didn’t fit.

Despite having been around since 2006, BAM was a completely new name to me. It mailed us its Summer 2012 catalogue featuring a collection of sportswear made from bamboo. The range includes long-sleeve base layers that promise to be “thermo controlling, antistatic, super soft” and yoga pants that are “moisture wicking, antibacterial, ultra comfy”.  According to the company history on page 38, this is only the company’s second-ever catalogue. I love the friendly copy on the catalogue’s how-to-shop page, in particular the returns information: “Within 14 days ideally, or if you haven’t worn it except to try it on, after that we’re pretty flexible too. We pay for exchanged items to be sent. If we’ve messed up—rare, but we’re only human!—you don’t pay anything”. It seems to be proving a hit with customers; its Feefo feedback satisfaction score is 99 percent for service and 99 percent for product. To further attempt to eke out a first order from us, the catalogue promotes a “4 for 3” promotion across the entire range.

Potentially the most generous of the new titles was Shipton & Co, a jewellery catalogue. As well as a 50 percent off sale, interest-free credit on higher-value purchases, free p&p on orders of £100 or more, the catalogue also promises a free freshwater pearl bracelet with every order. 

Other special offers included a free “calcuruler” from packaging catalogue Rajapack, 15 percent off everything at Great Little Trading Company and 15 percent off at Argento. The jewellery retailer also hid another offer within the catalogue. Tucked away on page 33 of 40 was free UK delivery on all orders over £30. I’m a big fan of free delivery offers and think that if it’s on offer it should be promoted on the cover. It adds another incentive for the recipient to look inside.

In total, 61.4 percent of the catalogues we received in May featured a special offer, roughly in line with May last year, when 62.2 percent of the 90 catalogues we received did so. As usual, a sale or discount was the most popular—promoted on 50 percent of the covers, and only marginally higher than May 2011’s 48.9 percent. Free delivery was featured on 24 catalogues, or 21 percent, of covers in May 2012; again, ahead of last year’s 17.8 percent. But free gifts were less popular, just 8.8 percent of catalogues promoted a freebie in May 2012, compared with 11.1 percent in May 11, and 20.5 percent in May 10.--MT

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Dart’s data: the customer loyalty issue

The main feature of Direct Commerce’s June issue focuses on marketing and customer loyalty. We explore how to implement post-purchase programmes and how to make the best use of analytics to keep customers coming back as well as much, much more.

If you can’t wait until 8th June, when the next issue hits desks, this week’s edition of Dart’s Data should help satisfy your loyalty-stats cravings in the meantime:

• Research from database marketing firm Transactis has shown that more than two-thirds of British consumers have stopped doing business with a company and turned to a competitor because they felt the firm had mishandled their personal data and could no longer be trusted.

The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 British consumers, also highlights that 69 percent of respondents have terminated their affiliation with a company within the last three years because it handled their private details irresponsibly, getting them wrong, passing them to third parties, failing to keep them secure or abusing their trust.
The report found that 95 percent of respondents stated they would be “very inclined” to switch to a competitor if they feel a company they are dealing with is being irresponsible with their personal details.

On the flipside, the survey found that if a business is seen to deal responsibly with personal data and provides a good service, 83 percent of consumers say they would keep buying from that company, while 76 percent of respondents say if a business is using their personal details to tailor services and offers they are more likely to continue buying from that company than its competitors.

In a sector breakdown of the research results, supermarkets are rated most highly among consumers with 84 percent rating them “good” or “very good” in terms of handling personal details responsibly and using them to provide better and more personalised services and offers. Banks (81 percent), online retailers (80 percent) and mobile phone suppliers (74 percent) also ranked well amongst British consumers, while the holiday/hotel/travel sector is one of the lowest performing categories with 45 percent of consumers rating them as either “good” or “very good”.

The study also found that women are generally harsher than men with companies they feel have improperly handled their personal information. Further, the older the consumer, the less tolerant they are of companies they see mishnadling their personal data, the most laid back are those aged 25 to 34.

• Showing just how giving superb service can have a positive impact on loyalty no matter what the price of the item, online marketing agency Leapfrogg found that 61 percent of consumers buying premium products and services say they will not reduce their online spending in 2012. Almost a third (30 percent) of respondents said they will purchase more online due to good service and increased confidence in using online channels this year. While 21 percent of consumers said that quality of product and great service is enough of a pull to encourage a luxury spend. To remain competitive, Leapfrogg noted, premium brands do not need to rely on heavy discounting or voucher codes, but will need to ensure that the communication of product information and an excellent shopping experience is provided.--JD