Monday, 21 July 2008

Online biggest driver of brand engagement for Retail brands

Newsflash: Retail

A recent study from IAB has identified that online ad spend delivers the biggest impact for retail brands within the media mix. Online was seen to drive 40% of brand engagement, whereas Press received 31% and TV 19%.

Another interesting statistic was that the retail brands surveyed spend 2.5% of their marketing budget online, seems pretty low considering these statistics.

See further details on the brand engagement study from the IAB here:

Brand engagement measurements for the store brands reviewed are listed below, the results indicate that store reputation and whether they could associate themselves with the retail brand (Affinity) provided the highest %.

If it is affinity they want (only women surveyed) then it is my opinion that online is place to give it to them, with opportunity to segment, talk in their voice, get them chatting to you (Blogs, Facebook Fan pages etc etc).

I am confident that we will see the brand engagement level for online rise this year, as more retailers turn to the web for their online promotions.

It was only yesterday that I found myself completing an online competition for Primark to win a £200 shopping spree (times are hard!).

Interesting brand engagement measurements and results from the New IAB study on retail brands:

Affinity (24.3%) - whether the store has a good reputation, and is for 'people like me'

Quality (19.3%) - that the store sells well known, high quality brands ·

Fitting one's needs (16.5%) - relating to store convenience, and whether it suits a consumer's particular tastes ·

Presence (14.7%) - a readily available, traditional store, with a national high street presence

With recession looming and purse strings tightening, businesses may want to cut back on marketing spend and for retail sites, this study indicates that online is the way to go especially as you have the ability for tighter targeting and of course have the ability to truly measure the ROI of your marketing efforts.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

All about Affiliate Marketing


The below provides an introduction to Affiliate Marketing, outlining the key considerations when setting up an Affiliate Marketing campaign. I wrote it a while back, but all still relates.

What is Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a practice where other sites advertise your products or brand. These are called “affiliates” and in effect can be classed as an ‘online sales force’, a secret army to increase your conversions. Should a user then click through to your site from an affiliate site and make a purchase you pay the affiliate a commission on that purchase. Commissions vary from sector to sector, but I would expect to start at 2% to 5%.

Management, tracking and payment to affiliates can be handled direct with the affiliates but it is best practice for management to take place through an independent 3rd party; an affiliate network.

Affiliate networks handle all of the day to day tasks involved with operating an affiliate program. Along with you they make sure the ‘online sales force’ are happy.

They usually operate on a tiered management system, where you decide the level of involvement you require, from “basic” where they host your product information feed, pay the affiliates, provide an online management control centre, and then leave you more or less to it, to a managed account where they also provide an account manager who will dedicate time each month to optimising your program, acquiring high quality affiliates for you, Basically, actively promote your program.

There are a number of Affiliates networks out there each with a varying number of Affiliate clients. They all perform a similar function to a greater or lesser degree. They are generally judged or measured by the number of affiliates they have, the commission level they charge, and the service they provide to you.

Set up Costs:

Networks usually require a one off setup fee – usually £1,000 to £2,000.

Operating Costs:

Commission - Starts at around 5% - this is what is paid to the affiliate site and is percentage of the sale value.

Override fee - This is paid to the affiliate network – usually 30% of the commission paid to the affiliates.

Management – Depends on level of service required and network, but for a reasonable network £220 per month for basic package and £500 for managed.

Affiliate programs take time to become established but in the long term can be a highly cost effective method of customer acquisition.

Affiliate Marketing campaign goals

Consider the purpose/aim of your affiliate campaign:

• Bring new customers to the site• Deliver incremental business• Compliment existing advertising for brand recognition.• Build relations with your secret sales force

Choose approach

• Incremental sales and brand awareness – campaign structureUse Affiliate marketing to fit in with current campaigns, offers, top sellers. Maximise HALO effect of other marketing media

• Steady sales – flat structureProvides consistent volume of traffic from the affiliates based on small number of ads. Disadvantage of this is that Affiliates can become complacent and tiered commission level remains the same even if products become uncompetitive.

Compliment existing advertising

When using Affiliate marketing to integrate with other online activity and when looking for incremental sales, consideration needs to be given to the below:

• % AD spend: Fixed budget versus unlimited
• Channel conflict: Agency PPC vs Affiliate PPC
• Brand Management: Volume v Control
• Measuring effectiveness: Cost per acquisition and Return on Investment

Monthly reporting can include

• Success of creative and changes required, creative held on central hub
• Sales funnel analysis
• Review quality of customers by each affiliate
• Long term profitability by individual affiliates
• Maintain creative consistency across all affiliate sites
• 30 – 90 day review of affiliate sites.
• All the above working to a 90 day plan from launch – and into the future, be ready to surprise your Affiliates with some great offers.

Another tip

Set up a twitter account to shout about your promotions to your affiliates. Make your Affiliate link shorter using

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Web Analytics – It’s simple really !

I learnt something new today when reviewing my analytics report. Not sure why the thought hadn't come to me previously, I will call it Analytic Evolution. Blogging about my experience to help me understand it further.

I noticed that my own domain was appearing in the ‘top referring sites’ and ‘top referring page’ in my Analytics reports.

Firstly considered what a referrer is:

“It is a site/page that refers a visitor to my site by linking to it”

Secondly looked for answers as to whether this is normal, good news it is. Great... but why is it good ? mainly becuase I understand the reasons, these are listed below:

The reason why my domain was appearing as a referrer can be due to a number of reasons, outlined some key findings below:

1. A user of your site may browse then leave to put the kettle on make a bit of lunch, leaving the browser open. On return they start to browse again and since the user session has timed out, the referrer to the site will be the page they were on before they left.

2. Could occur if IP switching occurs, which basically means the users IP address changes when browsing your website. As a new IP appears then the Analytics will treat this as a separate user and thus the referrer will be the previous page (of your site). However this only happens if tracking definition is set to use IP/User Agent.

Also would like to blog that I found out that ‘No referrers’ often appear in the analytics, typically due to the below reasons:

1. User accesses site directly
2. Site could be made home page by the user
3. User may access via a bookmark or favourite
4. Or they access via an email link
5. The event that started the visitor session was a hit to
something other than a page, such as an image.
6. User came to your Web site by way of a java-script-based
Redirect ie: a pop up.

Also some duplicate URLs, (same page different URL dependent on function on site) were appearing in my report, so off now to use a tool called URL search and replace to tidy up the log files.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Integrated Marketing Communications

I have always been a fan of integrated marketing and the joined up approach, and have seen as a marketer and customer the benefits of a joined up consistent message.

It is all about delivery of a cohesive message across all sales and marketing media, rather than them operating on there own. Having this consistent message enables the marketing campaigns to work harder towards a common set of measurable results.

It is surprising through that many industry leaders are not following this practice. I have just Googled a few companies who have an obvious strapline – finding out that these straplines are not presented to me in paid or natural search ads, sometimes the message isn’t even present on the main website home page. Strange !

I just Googled Halifax – they have another repetitive ad on the TV at the moment all using their common term “Extra”.

Good news is that they are following the practice as shown in search in their natural and paid search ad – both of which mention – “extra”. Great. See below:

Halifax Online Banking - UK Banks, Finance, Personal, Telephone ...Halifax Online Bank UK - Our online banking service always giving you extra with your finance and money - mortgages, savings, current accounts, credit cards ...

Unfortunate news is that the strap line isn’t doing them much favours, with people in forums and review sites using the “Who gives you extra” term – as a way to highlight what they believe to be their limitations. Should Halifax read this then suggest that they should put the story straight on these forums, it can only build trust in the long term with the current or ex customer and potential prospects finding your response.

The negative feedback on these review sites is a good example of why you should give consideration to your multi channel behaviour of your customers. For example, it is estimated that a finance customer will touch 14 sites before committing to registering with a new finance product, it is also likely that they will visit the comparison and review sites for advice before this commitment (especially with Credit cards).

Putting a positive spin is that the ads that Halifax produced, have gone Viral, with Howard (from the ads) receiving his own fan base. However how many You Tube video pass ons will lead to a new customer is limited. You Tube.

Another good example of integrated message is:

Car insurance and home insurance - Sheilas' WheelsSheilas' Wheels - Cheaper car insurance and home insurance online for women.

On arriving a their site – the heavily advertised on TV “Car insurance for women” product, is more prominent than what they also offer (home insurance) – even the Get Quote sign is bigger. They have given consideration to their brand name and that most people will arrive looking for the ‘car insurance’. Also as they have stuck to the name and not advertised “we have the best deals ever” they have (maybe without thought) stopped the possible critique in forums.

I came across quite a good process for measuring and thinking about customer behaviour in a multi channel environment from the book Web Analytics and hour a day by Avinash Kaushik, 2007. The diagram which can be also found in a section called non line here: It’s a flash site ! So quite contradictory as this section 'non line' which I wanted to find, will not appear in search, spiders have trouble reading flash.

Below paragraph explains the diagram quite clearly taken from Avinash’s book as quoted above:

“The diagram provides a simple representation of customer behaviour on two different channels. The physical acts are different but it is essentially the same process of moving from research to selection to qualification to purchase”.

The diagram highlights how customers move at their own pace across on and offline mediums before making their decision. The process can work for both services and products, it is one that I will be revisiting again, when highlighting the importance of the intergrated message, so thanks to David Hughes of Non Line Markeing for producing and apologies for the ‘quite contradictory’ point, but it is true.

As I find good examples of the integrated message, will revisit and post them here.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The importance of product descriptions

“Product descriptions are very important on retail sites” Sarah G July 20th 08

Wouldn’t it be great, if you could web cam in one of your in-store sales representatives and place them right inside you website. There are developments for this – Woopra – however it is slightly scary for someone to pop up and say “Hi, have you chosen yet” – but as we get more involved with the interactive internet – sure this could be a possibility. Find out more about real time features here.

Before we move onto Web 4.0 and lets assume that the sales rep is currently on leave from the site.

Here are my thoughts on optimising product descriptions using an example of a fashion site.

Something that many fashion and retail websites currently lack is the persuasive sales representatives together with the tangibility of “feeling the garmet” to help the customer make their decision. (Think about how M&S describe their food, "these are not just fish fingers, these are M&S fish fingers, made with the finest cod, crumbled breadcrumbs etc etc).

Giving attention to your product descriptions can help let the potential customer know that they must have “this” designer piece, how glorious it is, the fit, the style, the feel, the experience of wearing it and buying it.

Another important thing about product descriptions, is that you can use them to include the key terms that a potential customer may use when searching for the product.

So by optimising your product descriptions, you can not only benefit your search engine rankings for key phrases relating to your brand, but you could also potentially increase your sales too.

An eloquent description talking in the brands natural voice should offer the customer confidence and amusement when browsing through the selections.

What information should you write:

Consider this example: Shopping for Vivienne Westwood Dress

One site says: “Vivienne Westwood Sweety Dress”

Another says:

“This stunning dress, encompasses everything this British designer set out to accomplish. The corset style front with the drawstring bust gives the edge to the dress through fantastic tailoring, making this a Vivienne Westwood classic. The clean lines and shape give a timeless look and appeal to be in everyone’s designer ladies wardrobe. Team this with the Vivienne Westwood XY bag to create a style which says “I have arrived”

Even better would be to have a link to more information: ie: “History of Vivienne Westwood Fashion” “New collections from Vivienne Westwood designer clothing range”

It is clear that the second example will have more appeal to the style hungry shopper, and helps persuade consumer to buy (everyone wants a classic!). Remember that unlike shops (the bricks and mortor) online you do not have the support from your sales representatives, thus your product description will become your most valued friend.

Few more points

You can also add some key points to your description:

Key points
1: 96% Cotton
2: 4% lyocell
3. Contrast Fabric 100% cotton.

Other points could mention, other product:
1: Logo on front lower left side
2: Double Collar
3: Three button round collar shirt
4: Reversible shirt (Yes Reversible)

Some people do have problems writing the product descriptions, finding it hard to expand further on “it’s a pair of jeans” however it is likely that the people in store are experts in the designer clothing field, so use them, how they talk about products in the shop can echo online.