Not surprisingly personalization is a recent trend with web services, and certainly ecommerce. Even though there is a wave of curated type commerce, the automation of personalization across various business channels - marketing, sales, etc. - is a technological wave years in the making. But, are we there yet? What is the first level of benefits to a business that automates personalization to some degree?
Personalization for ecommerce is realized across various channels, as mentioned above. There are companies like Sailthru, MyBuys, ExactTarget, and on the advertising front, SocialWire and adRoll. And these are just a few of the players - so to say the field is crowded is an understatement. Regardless, the opportunity for various levels of automated personalization is being realized and if you are an ecommerce company, where do you fit in? Why should you?
In Spright's short life, we've pushed forward with a number of key automation initiatives leveraging personalization for a specific objectives. Our customers are e-retailers in various industries with quite a range of annual sales figures. A common objective we've seen met with our automation tools is increased average order values (AOV). Increasing AOV is a crucial KPI for most retailers. For starters: 1) it improves value of acquisition and repeat customers; 2) has direct effects on bottom line and top line figures; 3) it's more sales and higher checkout values on transactions. These improvements can motivate and ignite significant marketing and sales growth.
We will be releasing some of our discoveries concerning increasing AOV using automated personalization. If you are interested, be sure to visit Spright and drop us a line, we’ll happily share our findings.
As each day of sunshine gets shorter and Christmas gets closer, my daily workload seems to grow in the opposite direction. Recently, I’ve been diving deep into advertising and ecommerce inefficiencies data. While the Internet is easily still immature in age, a number of norms have been established. Think anything from free shipping, one-click orders, Facebook as an essential tool for keeping in touch, scheduling parties, and sharing pictures. The list grows and certainly gets modified every few years with new emerging players. In ecommerce, the conversion rate of a successful store is generally in the 1-2% range or slightly above. Not much has changed there.
But looking at some of the data and seeing glaring inefficiencies in areas like sales conversions and growing costs to acquire customers, is alarming. All the while advertising budget increase. Wasn’t the web suppose to produce just the opposite? Wasn’t that the dream of online business? Efficiency. Scale. Productivity and cost savings.
Let’s look at it this way: advertising is an enormous industry, and $100bn of the $500bn a year spent on advertising is done online. According to some reports, about 22% of advertising is digital. Now, the ecommerce industry is twice the size of online advertising, at somewhere around $210bn or $225bn. But, ecommerce is still less than 6% of all retail (so people please stop complaining about how you hate online stores devouring local merchants). Clearly there is tremendous opportunity for ecommerce to grow, and it will. But, not as efficiently or cost effectively as it could with just 1-2% sales conversion rates. To me, that is a crucial metric as to when ecommerce will be comparable to digital advertising (22% of it’s industry).
For instance, if there is correlation between digital advertising and ecommerce, and we accept a 1% conversion rate, ecommerce would grow digital advertising to $480bn industry in order to be 22% of all retail. It’s highly unlikely that the overall advertising market would balloon to $2 trillion and digital maintain it’s 22% foothold in the sector. So, how will ecommerce become 22% of retail given the metrics that exist in advertising, customer acquisition and the growth rate of ecommerce versus the growth rate of advertising budgets?
The answer: conversion. The fantasy that becomes reality is that the web and webstores improve on the performance of the actual store meeting the demands of its shoppers with great efficiency and all around performance, and that includes the means necessary to improve conversion rates.
…more to come, soon!
Social media has endured its fair share of skepticism when it comes to delivering value for marketers and companies. But for many businesses, especially ecommerce companies, brand recognition can be pivotal in a customer’s decision making process — even if just to feel that the store exists and has trust with other consumers.
It’s interesting to me to see that many small ecommerce companies, even retail businesses that have existed offline for years and have finally shifted some attention to online sales, aren’t placing nearly enough concentration on the value of social media marketing. Surprisingly, I often find that smaller companies and emerging brands focus on PR rather than a straight approach to brand marketing and growing online awareness. Nothing beats data and unfortunately PR often struggles in that space. Social media presents multiple layers of data yet companies can struggle with understanding it all. At a minimum, at least you can collect data points to leverage at a later stage. So, be sure to gather information and prepare to analyze and compare metrics from your efforts.
To get to the point: online business requires customers. There are countless ways to acquire customers, each with their own expense and resource draw. Stores need to have initial touch points with customers at the top of the funnel. This is essentially the introduction. I recommend that businesses take a step forward with their strategies and evaluate the potential that social media marketing has with growing awareness of their companies while also acquiring customers (even at top of funnel sales stage). Additionally, the cost to acquire tens of thousands of fans for an online retailer is modest in comparison to other expenses including paid and organic search, but still provides future value that is not yet realized…
Remember that social media more than just enables your customers to help you, it can empower them to grow your business. Use that opportunity wisely.
"It’s simply an engine of convenience," Evan Williams on what the Internet is.
The internet has offered the world many things, yet I agree to a large extent with Evan Williams and his statements about the web ultimately offering convenience. Understanding and accepting this notion only raises more questions and concerns about online business, web practices and if any real value is added from services and business marketing product companies.
Big data is a popular term thrown around quite liberally with many businesses and service providers. As is many other buzz terms of the moment (take your pick: machine learning, data mining, etc.). While the marketing days of old relied greatly on art and craft, today’s marketing departments are based in analytics and scientific approaches. Yet, the never ending pursuit to create and partake in the buzz word of the week conversation has the online marketing industry often sounding like internet salesmen from the nineties.
Certainly it can be convenient to know what is happening in the industry, ala big data and data mining and such, yet it is not essential for online marketers. As Evan pointed out in his interview, “Those who can tune that engine well — who solve basic human problems with greater speed and simplicity than those who came before — will profit immensely. Those who lose sight of basic human needs — who want to give people the next great idea — will have problems.” (Wired.com).
Marketing software and services companies, as well as marketing professionals out of and in-house, only need to know how to master the variety of engines for business. The terms come and go, but at the end of the day it’s the mechanic and engineering approach that matters more to the results. In a nutshell, the services and solutions companies should be providing more efficient picks and axes for marketers to tune their engines.
The season has finally changed here in the Big Apple. For awhile it felt like the summer was going to make it to October. Still, 70 degree days in late September feel really nice.
Generally, I’m not the biggest fan when it comes to talking about the weather. Usually if I talk about the weather it’s probably because I’m putting a mild effort forth to strike up a conversation and haven’t sourced a topic worth leading with yet. This can often coincide with introductions to people without context. That’s not to say that conversation won’t find context, but often times I’m introduced to individuals without much explanation of why or who each other is.
Ok, where am I going with this unnecessary weather talk? It’s a staple. It happens more than I plan it to happen. But talking about the weather can lead to more interesting conversations, occasionally. It just requires follow up. My issue with so many people in the business world today is they lack follow up; respectful persistence or simple courteous correspondence.
It’s important to note that every email not returned can’t honestly be believed to have ended up in the SPAM folder. Professionals that skirt answering questions by providing answers to questions that weren’t asked, are essentially disrespectful.
All of this happens far too often. Conversations die out before they ever really begin because people aren’t even willing to talk about the weather, again. Sooner or later that same weather talk changes to a new season, and we as professionals have to be more than willing, we have to be persistent in following the change towards new opportunities.
In my recent professional past, I have been fortunate to have built and launched a number of projects online. I use the word “projects” despite some of these developing into full corporations. With each project I’ve done, I admit, I think about them and expect them to grow into fast growth companies. #wishfulThinking
Many of my past projects centered around the “launch” and getting as much publicity and buzz as I could out of the gate. It was very non-Lean Startup methodology. This approach meant I got to tell people that publications like Teen Vogue, Womens Wear Daily and SELF magazine featured me in articles about my projects - it stroked egos for sure. And I’m sure this media lead to the opportunity to work with brands like ALDO Shoes, Current/Elliot, The Smile Train and others. But, it didn’t make the projects sustainable.
One of my most recent projects evolved into Closetista, a video commerce driven web property that at its height reached consumers across the globe and had a network of nearly three dozen style bloggers syndicating our content. Of course, Closetista launched in much the same way as my previous projects: with media and press. But, the funny part was that I was totally un-prepaired for it and unable to capitalize in any long lasting way. This eventually propelled many projects within Closetista as a company, each trying to garner different and new publicity, including online contests for emerging designers.
The amazing difference with the designer contests, that we named Style Gone Social, was that we didn’t really promote. Instead, we baked marketing into components of the contests and required contestants to drive awareness and sales. This worked incredibly well at driving traffic and sales, but also at reducing our overhead and dependency on media and PR.
Shortly after the first contest I reached out to my current co-founder and asked him to get involved so the two of us could build an online contest marketplace — gamified to the nines! We even had term sheets from institutional investors before we had a beta. My cofounder and I ultimately decided to take a step back and refocus. We would not build this contest marketplace. Why?
Neither one of us really wanted to build an online contest site, but we were excited about the tech approach and strategy we had outlined. We ultimately decided to do a new venture, one that would not include press and media: A business to business, SaaS, solutions provider for ecommerce companies. This company has not “launched” but we do have a closed beta with a few clients that are using our solution and driving sales and acquiring new customers with incredible efficiency due to our solution. In fact, part of our company strategy is to not necessarily have an official launch with any press or media. As in, possibly ever.
Obviously I’ve connected the launch of a startup to getting press. And certainly many startups can have a launch and not involve press at all. I guess my main point is that building a company shouldn’t begin with the launch, and surely shouldn’t center around getting press. Neither is sustainable and neither will be the core of a startup.
If you think that the tech your young kids are using today are any reflection on what will be used in the future, even in the near future, you are mistaken. It’s also short changing the intellect of every kid 18 and under. You don’t think they can come up with something better ?
That’s not to say that watching our kids use technology that didn’t exist when we were kids isn’t adorable. It is. And of course each of our kids is smarter and more aware of the future than any other kid in the world. Obviously.
THe reality is that we do not live in the world we were born into. Things change.
After a weekend out of town, but one that felt like I spent most of the time behind the wheel driving, I was excited to get the official work week started. Waking up to a cloudy sky and dropping temperatures wasn’t motivating, nor was the idea that there was a very strange technical issue still awaiting my undivided attention. I was fortunate to have my cofounder look into the issue while I was away and was pleasantly surprised to discover the issue no longer remained.
The unfortunate part however is that we have not clearly identified what caused the original issue and incorrect experience. I’ve scoured the behaviors that lead to the issue arising last week, but yet have been unable to identify the cause. Thus, we are not sure what the cure was.
Has anyone else felt this way: elation from the issue apparently correcting itself, and then more frustration from the confusion or lack of ability to understand what has actually happened?
From time to time I’ll look at the number of Facebook Friends I have or the number of connections on my LinkedIn account. Or, even scan the Followers on the various Twitter accounts I access.
Without question, all accounts have some virtual-friends —- people I haven’t met in person. While I can’t necessarily argue for actual value of these friendships, isn’t it not enough or more inline with new-age Internet relationships to connect with people you haven’t met in-person? I mean, don’t people connect on dating sites without ever meeting in person until the “final” stages?
My question is this: can valuable relationships exist from virtual friendships, connections, acquaintances?