#90 Digital Marketing News

Weekly Roundup #90 – Return Rates, Dark Social & Blockchain

Welcome to this weeks round up of what’s new in digital marketing! If you missed last weeks round up, you can read about Facebook’s new automated ad tool, how to market to millennials and how to measure the ROIs on social spending… Once you’ve caught up, you can take a look at the following:


Strategies for Tackling High Rates of Online Returns…

Despite online sales growing at three times the rate of those in-store, there is a far higher rate of returns for online transactions. Partly due to the popularity of free shipping, online sales see almost a third of orders being sent back, which compares to just 9% of in-store items. The expenses involved in processing and shipping returned items can range from 20-65% of an online businesses cost of goods sold, so naturally, online merchants are looking to make returns less costly.

There are several ways that companies are tackling the issue, Amazon.com allows free returns to the lockers that they have installed in many areas – meaning that the customer processes the return online and physically returns it to Amazon property that is already regularly serviced.

Jet.com offers customers a lower price for the item they wish to purchase if they agree to opt out of their free-returns policy – and if they wish to return the item they must pay $5.99 plus an additional 5% of the item price.

Another tactic is to provide the customer with a more detailed picture of each item – Dockers.com gives the size in inches of thigh and leg openings for its menswear items, whilst ModCloth invites customers to upload photos of themselves wearing its clothing, so that new or potential customers for that item can see how it looks on real people.

Whilst many companies opt for shorter return policies (as this means that the items are returned quickly enough to resell at their full price before going out of style or being superseded by a later model), the electronics company Best Buy Co. is using longer return windows as a reward for being a loyal customer. Best Buy Co. offers 15 days to regular customers, which increases to 30 days for those included in their loyalty program, and 45 days to their Elite Plus members.

The majority of customers (58%) prefer to return items in-store, which is a positive for the merchant, as this opens a window of opportunity for the customer to make a new purchase during their visit. For this reason, some companies are partnering up – Kohl’s stores in the US will start accepting Amazon returns in-store…


Christmas Shopping: The Effects of ‘Dark Social’ and ‘Black Friday’

How do consumers decide what to buy their loved ones for Christmas? Ad tech company RadiumOne looked into people’s Christmas shopping habits to find the answers…

The results found that consumers are influenced by ‘dark social’ – meaning that they share content and information through one-to-one email or direct messaging – making it very difficult for brands to know about their thoughts, intentions and purchases. 30% of consumers think that they share more content online over the holiday period compared with the rest of the year – and whilst Facebook increases by 22%, dark social channels increase by 72%.

The research also looked at Black Friday as part of the holiday season, with the 2016 event seeing as real spike in online transactions. Black Friday 2016 saw tech sales increase by 52% and jewellery sales jump by 48% when compared with the Christmas period in general. Sports and beauty purchases both grew by a third, which is a good indicator that Black Friday is no longer simply considered as a way to purchase cheaper tech goods, but is a more general source of Christmas shopping.

Craig Tuck, RadiumOne’s UK managing director, noted that,

“Sharing behaviour is an indicator of consumer intent and the most likely moment they’ll interact with a brand. Our data shows that 61% of shoppers will also do a ‘big shop’ vs little and often… So, harnessing the planning and sharing period is key in influencing consumers’ final purchase, and tracking sharing dark social is imperative at any point, but more so during the Christmas period where there is more to gain.”


Blockchain: A Cure for Advertising’s Troubles?

Blockchain was developed in 2008 by the mysterious coder, Satoshi Nakamoto, as a way of tracking the movement of digital currency or assets from one person to another through a transparent distributed ledger. This distributed ledger cannot be deleted as it sits on all connected devices simultaneously, meaning that it is possible to categorically prove an event, task or transfer, and it cannot be doctored or tampered with unless the record is changed on every single ledger at exactly the same time.

Blockchain is famously used for digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin and Etherium, but could it have further uses in other industries?

Some of the biggest challenges in the media industry could be solved with the use of blockchain systems – think of ad fraud, malware, bot traffic and transparency of all trades between parties. The IAB has set up a new working group to investigate the role of blockchain in the advertising industry in the US, which is surely a sign of things to come. The most notable current use of blockchain is from Basic Attention Token (BAT) which uses the system to anonymously monitor user attention on the platform and to reward publishers accordingly – meaning that advertisers will benefit from an increased ROI, more advanced targeting and reduced fraud.

Adchain from MetaX is looking to use blockchain to reduce fraud by defining a collective baseline for what ‘good’ publishers look like. Adchain will incentivise people to determine each publisher’s reputation – those with a positive feedback will be added to a whitelist, which will help brands to decide which publishers to invest with. The New York Interactive Exchange (NYIAX) uses Nasdaq Frameworks and blockchain technology to provide advertisers with a transparent and trusted market to secure and potentially re-trade future advertising inventory.

The recent adoption of blockchain into the advertising industry is already creating some innovative and promising solutions to its challenges, which will only grow and increase in time.


GDPR and the Role of Copywriting

GDPR DIGITAL Marketing News

There has been much discussion around the consequences and repercussions of the GDPR, such as opt-ins and banning the exchange of access of consent, however there is also an important role for copywriting…

The tone, language and content around implementing the rules of the GDPR needs to be carefully considered. Each section of a business, from product to marketing, is affected by the act, and the content is no different.

Content should be written in plain English – GDPR demands that you clearly set out your intentions, so you should avoid using complicated sentences and jargon. Content should also be written in an active voice as this improves clarity – for example, ‘Customer data is used by the marketing department’ should be made active, which looks more like this, ‘The marketing department use customer data’.

It has also been suggested that using personal pronouns should be avoided in data privacy content, as people feel more concerned by the use of ‘we’ instead of the company name. Using ‘we’ suggests a human element to the system, which implies that there is someone overlooking the personal information and preferences. To avoid this discomfort, use your company name when talking about how it uses customer data.

GDPR provides an opportunity for you to explain how your company uses customer data for their benefit, so make sure to include a clear exchange of value in your copy. If using their customer data improves their customer experience, saves them time or money then make that clear to them.

When requesting consent for your customer’s data, make it clear that this is a reversible decision. Customers are far more likely to give consent if they know that it is not permanent. It is not advisable to mention that you are making changes to your data consent because GDPR are enforcing it – instead talk about what you need and why without shying away from the responsibility.

Asking for information in stages or staggered steps is another way to comfort the customer, as this doesn’t overwhelm them or put them off – if this is part of your strategy, then do not forget to prioritise the information that you most need or want.

Customers are wary of companies knowing too much about them, or predicting their actions too accurately. To avoid this adopt a more humble tone of voice when sending personalised or targeted content. For example, ‘Here’s something you might like’, rather than, ‘Here’s something you’ll like”.

Finally, be aware of your customer base’s attitude to personal information. The age and location of your customers will affect the type and amount of content that you need to produce in order to reassure them. Residents of the former East Germany are, understandably, more wary of the idea of people having a huge amount of information on them, whereas those in China have been seen to be more willing to exchange their data for a better digital experience. Produce content that suits your customers views – for those who put a high value on their data then it may be necessary to produce more educational content.


Visual Search and eCommerce

eBay has already been using visual search on its Motors app, and they have announced that they are broadening their image recognition feature to its mobile app, allowing users to, “use pictures instead of words to search eBay’s 1.1 billion listings.”

Using two features, the Find It On eBay allows users to ‘share’ an image that they find online with eBay, who then find similar listings. Image Search does the same thing using images that users take and have stored in their phone. Using AI and machine learning technology, eBay explained that,

“When you upload images to run Find It On eBay and Image Search, we use a deep learning model called a convolutional neural network to process the images. The output of the model gives us a representation of your image that we can use to compare to the images of the live listings on eBay. Then, we rank the items based on visual similarity and use our open-source Kubernetes platform to quickly bring these results to you, wherever you are in the world.”

Pinterest started using visual search in 2015, and by 2017 felt confident enough it is efficacy to apply it to its ads. Tim Kendall, President of Pinterest, explained that,

“Until now we’ve only applied the visual discovery tech to the organic consumer facing products, but the news is we’re now applying it to ads. Think about Pinterest, we have a depth and breadth of visual signals on products and services… and the way that people navigate those pins is very visual… We leveraged the way people actually use Pinterest. We can identify colours, shapes, textures. We’re able to understand the combined affect people find appealing, even when it can’t be communicated in words.”

Google also unveiled its new visual search technology this year with Google Lens, which has been integrated into Google Photos and Assistant to help users identify what’s in their photos and videos and connecting them to relevant resources. Google Lens has obvious eCommerce applications, which explains why other retailers such as Target, ASOS and Neiman Marcus are also investing in visual search technology…

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Sebastian Paszek

Marketing manager

Controlling the chaos of the digital landscape, Sebastian is a multiplatform executive, project manager and photographer.