In last week’s roundup we listed #AlternativeEmailFacts, discussed if eCommerce Packaging was sustainable and brought you up to date on the use of Adblocking software. Here’s what we’re telling you this week:
- – Your internet marketing is nothing without social media. We ask Dennis Kirwan for his views on the importance of social media.
- – The 5 best email marketing platforms you can use based on what you might need them for. From the solo worker just starting out, to the seasoned professional looking for an upgrade. We’ve got their features and their pricing below.
- – Visa reports eCommerce spending continues to rise. People are spending more money online, but where are they spending their money most? We dig deeper.
- – UK shoppers are rating their retail experiences as ‘merely average’ according to new research. Find out how you can avoid being anticlimactic with your customers.
- – How to identify the best times of the year for your SEO using Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner and Google Console. A handy guide for knowing your new favourite holiday.
SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS
Internet Marketing Isn’t Internet Marketing Without Social Media
Dennis Kirwan, CEO of Dynamic Digital has expressed his insights when it comes to social media’s direct correlation with internet marketing. Beginning by telling Forbes that despite the undeniable rise in social media, a lot of business owners still neglect to keep a consistent social media presence. Social media as we know here at Spot Studio is a part of your company’s branding, and as Kirwan aptly explains:
“People have to trust a brand to a certain degree before they make a purchase. This predates social media and remains true today. Fortunately, social media presents a unique opportunity for companies both large and small to build and maintain customer-brand relationships.” He continues “Through social media, companies can not only easily communicate any message they desire to their target audiences, but they can also interact with individual customers from around the world in real time. If done correctly, companies can shape the way in which the public perceives their brand, while at the same time facilitating discussions that can establish or solidify their brand’s authority online. Every day that a company shares meaningful content on its various social media platforms is another day the company is steadily strengthening the very foundation of its brand.”
Branding isn’t where social media ends for internet marketing either. Search engines are now starting to take social media content into account. Google updated its algorithm in 2015 to incorporate social channel content in its search results, meaning your presence on social media, or lack thereof, could have a profound effect on your SEO rankings. The more content that you actively generate through social media, the more authority a brand can get in its market. It shouldn’t really take an expert to call it out, but he ends his account of internet marketing with this, and we entirely agree:
“It is no longer a question of whether or not a company should add a social media component to its online marketing operation – and this is a good thing. Proficiency in social media is not another checkmark on a digital marketing to-do list. Rather, it is a wonderful opportunity for small and medium-sized companies to take control of their brand, interact with consumers, entice prospective customers, fix mistakes, learn, grow, improve, and strengthen their position on the internet. In technical terms, this is what we in the industry call a no-brainer.”
The 5 Best Email Marketing Platforms to Use For You
We talk about some pretty complex things when it comes to email marketing, but in case you’re just tuning in, we’re going to list the top 5 best email marketing platforms along with the perks and the pricing.
You’ve definitely heard of this one if you’ve done any sort of light research. The best thing about them is that they do a free plan for small business and can integrate with a lot of third-party providers so it’s adaptable. It lacks some better features we’re about to mention but it’s best suited to small teams, start ups and solo workers. The paid option is only $10 a month.
If you need something that’s easy to use and offers a little bit of everything, this is a good free option and has live support. You can access a lot on their free plan such as 4,000 emails per month, and you can upgrade as your list grows. Their most useful features are Advanced Reporting and Autoresponders, so, for example, it automatically re-sends an email that the recipient didn’t open the first time, which is reported to increase your open rates by an average of 30%. The only drawback is you’ll need to pay for those extra perks. Worth it though.
Best for the eCommerce merchant, SendGrid could be perfect for you since their speciality is in transactional email delivery services. Over time they have transitioned into other email marketing tools. The platform is best for companies that have an engineer who can make use of their powerful API, but it’s out of your reach if you don’t have a tech available. It gets rid of the headache of maintaining an SMTP email server, but you still need someone tech savvy to take it all on.
This one is all about the smooth user experience for first time users. It comes with a bunch of built-in templates for email blasts and can easily import contacts from major email providers like Outlook and Gmail. It creates sign up forms and works well with Google Analytics too – there’s even a mobile app for your on-the-go work. You can try them out with a 60 day free trial and it runs for about $15 a month thereafter. According to some users, the software is prone to glitches like loading up your dashboard and it’s important to note that the default storage is limited to 5 files.
A cute combination of the words “email” and “marketing”, it has a few standout features like customisations and auto-responses. If you’re a pro and you’re reading this then Emma might be the best thing for you. If you aren’t a pro, then we wouldn’t bother as they require at least 2,500 contacts to start off. It’s the priciest of the bunch at $49 a month for a pro plan, but the fee is well worth it for all of their extra features.
If there’s one you know of that we haven’t mentioned and you think our readers could do with knowing about it, then tweet us @spotstudiouk.
eCommerce Spending Continues to Rise According to Visa
Visa has reported a 3.2% rise in eCommerce spending in February 2017, and consumers are increasingly spending more money through online channels. Visa’s Consumer Spending Index for February states an overall rise in consumer spending of 1.5% year on year, up from 0.4% in January.
While eCommerce expenditure is rising, face to face spending has fallen by 3%. Kevin Jenkins, UK and Ireland MD at Visa said:
“Following a marked slowdown in January, consumer spending restored some momentum in February. Overall spend grew at an annual rate of 1.5% from a low point of 0.4% in the previous month, notably, online retailers continued to enjoy strong growth, while the high street trailed behind, declining for the third month in the last four.”
Visa reported that consumers are spending more on culture and recreation, as well as hotels, bars and restaurants. He continues,
“Growth in the experience sector continues to be a significant driver. Valentine’s Day and the half-term break gave consumers more reasons to dine out and treat their loved ones to short getaways around the UK. At the same time, the level of growth in the leisure and hospitality sectors was softer than we have seen in the past year, showing signs that consumers are becoming more cautious with their discretionary spending. And for clothing retailers, February was yet another challenging month, recording the biggest drop across all the sectors that we track.”
More on this as we get it.
UK Shoppers Rate Retail Experiences ‘Merely Average’
Research commissioned by the data-driven marketing technology company Zeta Global has asked over 3,000 UK adults about their shopping experiences and preferences. The study was conducted so that retailers can understand what their customers are actually expecting in terms of experience and service.
The study that was originally conducted for the company Sapio Research revealed that almost half (48%) of respondents considered their retail experience to be ‘merely average’, while 11% believe that their favourite stores provide a poor service and now shop around as a result. This clearly highlights a massive opportunity for improvement among the retailers to set themselves apart.
Here are some other bite-sized key findings for you:
– 81% of UK consumers have confirmed they are more likely to go on to buy if a store recognises them as a previous customer and offers relevant discounts.
– Almost two-fifths of shoppers would be less inclined to shop around if they received a personalised service.
– 63% of UK shoppers have bought items as a direct result of a communication from a retailer.
– Customers have high service expectations of retailers – 87% of people expect an answer back within 24 hours from a store if they complain.
The full report highlights key facts that retailers have in their ability to anticipate shopper needs. The Senior Director of Strategy and Analytics of Zeta Global commented:
“Clearly, retailers continue to face challenges in being able to acknowledge their customers and understand how they interact with the brand – online, in a physical location, or when they interact through social media. Retailers need to be able to spot these interactions and acknowledge quickly, or there is a real risk that time-pressured and demanding UK shoppers will take their customer to retailers that can… This research highlights just how critical it has become for stores to understand their customers, and put this knowledge systematically to work throughout their organisations to enhance customer service, experience and engagement. If this doesn’t happen, they will lose ground to competitors.”
So with such dissatisfaction with the major players, does this mean there could be a gap in the market for the smaller more independent brands with better service?
Seasonal SEO: Finding Your Best Seasons
It’s March, but I think a lot of us still get flashbacks to the holiday season – hordes of hungry shoppers on Black Friday, sites crashing on Cyber Monday and last minute gifters filling their shopping carts frantically on Christmas Eve. We’ve all been there. Last year, winter holidays accounted for over $658 billion in sales according to NRF. Holidays are the most important times of the year for retailers, but they aren’t the only time search behaviour and sales increase or change.
We’ve got Mother’s Day, Halloween and the Back-to-School holidays that all compel these shoppers to purchase in preparation. But what about the seasons? Which ones? Well there’s wedding seasons, fashion seasons, literal seasons, hiking seasons, you name it. Fashion trends most definitely influence a spike in consumer purchases in an attempt to remain on trend. All of these factors can impact your consumer’s behaviour so how do you know how to utilise this?
Identify seasonal behaviour changes with Google Trends. It shows the search interest over time for any term that you chose. You could pick a certain item of clothing that you sell, or basically just your best selling product. Search for it on Google Trends. When are the times that people are most interested in this? What month? Is it about to become super trendy to wear yellow wellington boots? For example, watermelon as a term is popular in summer and pumpkin spice in the fall. No one wants to eat quinoa at Christmas and Cayenne Pepper seems to stay pretty stable all year round.
You can also use the Google Keyword Planner which is another way to identify high level trends. You enter a few search terms and google suggests related terms to consider and shows the amount of search interest that’s in those terms, whether or not there’s an increase or decrease in them and a general measurement of your competition. It’s pretty good actually, especially if you want to delve into a large trend but don’t know how to dig deeper.
Then we have Google Search Console. This helps webmasters identify trends or seasons that are popular now for your site. So, Search Console data is first-hand Google data and is a great supplement to your analytics. The Search Analytics reports include information about positions, impressions, clicks, devices and much more over the last 90 days, and more importantly it actually shows the ranking performance. Sweet.
Link Search Console to your Google Analytics account and Analytics will pull the keyword-level data in for you. It gives you additional visibility into KW performance and can help you build a strategy around those behavioural changes.