Is online ecommerce business profitable

An eCommerce business is a booming industry but it takes more than selecting a brand name to make it profitable, it all boils down to how much traffic you can generate to your site. In simple words, you must get buyers and have them purchase from your online store to make enough profits. As a … Read more

Browser to Advocate

Building loyal customers who are advocates for your brand will continue to grow your company’s bottom line for years. The key is to use your loyalty program to engage and inspire your customers to share their experiences across your ecosystem and in social media. Read through the journey below for the proof points you can’t ignore.   … Read more

Social Media Contests

A good customer loyalty program must be versatile. The traditional concept of rewards programs that are based on points for purchase has expanded to include a much larger marketing strategy. Now, programs may incorporate rewards for social media actions, promotional participation, and site engagement. Social media in particular has become a major source of consumer … Read more

contest best practices

Oprah Winfrey, perhaps the most successful TV host of all time, created a storm one day in 2004 when she gave away Pontiac cars to all 276 members of her audience. Unsurprisingly, her show saw unprecedented viewership. But it also pulled more than 140,000 visitors to, a 600% increase in their regular daily traffic at that time. On top of that, Pontiac became one of the most talked about car brands for a while. And, I mean, who could forget this footage?

There may not be a stronger testament to the fact that contests and giveaways have always been able to act as a magnet to attract customers as well as revenue. Of course, the contests that most businesses operate are of a very different variety, but they’re valuable across the board, if you follow our social contest best practices. Here’s why:

  • They’re easy to set up and are budget-friendly
  • Contests allow you to keep your loyal customers engaged all year, while attracting new shoppers and adding them to your email list
  • They’re easily aligned with in-store events, and can be done across all channels

This explains why many brands–from airlines to cosmetics retailers–use giveaways and contests to boost brand recognition, email list size, and sales. But it’s never been quite as simple as giving away a reward, and it definitely isn’t now with social media being so evolved and businesses using so many different channels. Let’s take a look at some of our contest best practices to see how to approach it.

Contest Best Practices: Picking Your Prize

Contests are all about the prize, right? That’s why its selection needs to be absolutely perfect.

Two things need to be taken into account while deciding any giveaways. The first is the profit margin. In general, the prize that you are giving away should be at least 2.5x your average order value (AOV). If giveaways are bigger than profits, it’s not possible for the campaign to sustain.

The second point is the interest areas of your customers. Remember that they will participate if and only if they find the prizes desirable. Therefore, it’s not important what you want to give to your customers. What matters is what they want.

There are different ways of rewarding the winners of your contest. A simple way is to give gift cards which will allow them to purchase what they want . Another way is a product giveaway. Then there is no need that you should give the product that you sell or manufacture. It can be anything that people will like to have…like phones, tablets or even sunglasses. Another form of product giveaway is ‘try for free’. Here you can think about products which usually fall under big purchases. Another way to really reward your contest winner is elevating his experience level…and it is usually more satisfactory than any other monetary or a product gift. You can hand him tickets of the special events or concerts, or give him a travel package.

Read on below…

Contest Best Practices: Partnering with Brands

The conventional wisdom says that contest should run within your own ecosystem, i.e. within your store and social media accounts. Of course, that should be the case. But the problem with this approach is that your contest will get exposed only to those people who come to your stores or who are frequently visits your website and social media accounts.

What about those people who may not be your frequent buyers, but who will love to participate in your contest? That’s where the idea to join forces with other brands gains importance. It’s a reliable way to get exposed to new users and enhance the possible reach of your contest. For example, if you are in the apparel industry, you can partner up with a popular jewelry brand and create a mixture of a giveaway of clothes and matching jewelry.  That’s exactly what Loot Crate, an e-commerce subscription store for gamers, did by partnering with Razer, the most popular gaming mouse, for a visual commerce submission contest.

loot crate contest

The partnership proved to be more than helpful. Loot Crate reached an audience 5 times larger than its existing audience. The main reason behind this success was that Loot Crate began to target Razer audience base, which was full of professional gamers with money to spend on an expensive mouse or a monthly subscription box. Thus, the key to such kind of a partnership is the understanding of your partner’s audience which you will be exposed to. It usually helps if you partner with a brand that has a close kinship with your product use.

Contest Best Practices: Get Shoppers to Promote You

Customer participation is what drives any contest. And thus, its nourishment naturally achieves higher highest in the priority list. And frankly speaking, with countless pieces of content getting uploaded on social media, it’s not at all a super difficult task. That’s free promotion for you, so you better use it!

Diamond Candles is a perfect example of this. They sell candles…but little differently. They put a ring worth anywhere from $10 to $5,000 inside the candle. Of course, most candles have the cheap rings. Now it’s not hard to guess that people who get the prized ring will love to share their it on social media. The candle seller sensed the opportunity to weave an entire contest around it. It bucked up its customers to create and share images with their candles, and perform other social media actions, in order to win free prizes from them. Its “Pin It To Win It” was also a part of that effort where it asked its customers to create Pinterest boards with at least 10 pictures of their candles.

candle contest

Contest Best Practices: The Certainty of Revenue

The contest doesn’t work on its own. You need dedicated resources to make it run as you have to spend on prizes, partners, promotions and follow up. To make the whole system viable, you have to think about contest best practices and methods of generating revenue as well as tracking.. This effort should continue even after the end of your contest. To create entry points where your participants can buy your products, you can think about doing something on the lines that I have mentioned below-

  • Send out a special offer or coupon code post entry.
  • Create a sense of relief and hope among the customers who have failed to win your contest by creating a consolation offer. It should reach out to the customers immediately after the contest is over.

DODOcase did that when its contest died down.


As you can see, DODOcase expressed gratitude to its customers for participating in its giveaway. By offering code and 15% off, it created a motive for future purchase among those who lost the contest. People like discount offers more when they have just lost the opportunity to grab one!

Contest Best Practices: Data Collection

With efficient data systems and dashboards, nowadays you collect more data from customers than you normally would be able to with traditional opt-in forms. The same system can be applied while your contest is running in a full swing. You can have data of all the people who participated in your contest. And the good thing is, that data will be comprehensive…including minute details of their whereabouts and behavioral aspects. Exemplary data captured might include:

  • Social profile data
  • The types of contests they prefer to participate in
  • Level of their activity in in your campaigns
  • The devices that they used- mobile, desktop or laptop
  • Reviews about their experience
  • Social images from #hashtags of customers using your products

Now, you can use this data to your advantage not just to up the tempo of your contest, but of your overall marketing oeuvre. For example, if you know who have been more active in your contest, you can target them by pitching your loyalty program. Naturally, they must have found something good in your brand or contest which kept them enthusiastic throughout the contest. Similarly, you can use the images captured via hashtags as social proofs on your website or referral/ loyalty program communication. If you activate the creative centers of your brain more regularly, you may come up with more ways of making optimum use of this data.

Indeed, there are many more things that you can do improve the efficacy of your contest and reap benefits which wouldn’t be less than staggering. And believe me…all the pain that you will take in this process of improvement worth a try. After all, the opportunities to build your brand, reach a new audience, extract data, build your online community, engage your followers and keep your content current and entertaining, are just too good to turn down. It clarifies then why companies who have taken that pain in making their contests a perfect one have seen an average  34% increase in their fan base.

user generated content examples

User Generated Content (UGC) like Visual Commerce, Questions and Answers, and Ratings and Reviews is definitely one of the most prioritized tactics in the current scheme of modern marketers. It is becoming more and more unavoidable due to the dazzling maze of social media and mobile phones. No wonder, many companies are putting their best foot forward to absolutely get it right. We have witnessed some great user generated content examples by the arty and crafty mix of authentic and persuasive content. We will take a look at some of the most shining and effective user generated content examples.

A) Francesca’s:

The problem with studio images is they sometimes fail to show detail or look too glossy. Customers fail to fit those images in the context of real life use. But another truth is that for fashion, studio product pictures are great for showing the 360-degree effect of a garment. There’s a need to find a golden balance in this situation. And Francesca’s found a perfect solution in one of our more simplistic yet effective user generated content examples — it just surrounded its product images with pictures from Instagram.

francescas product page vc

What it achieved is a complete understanding of how the product will actually look on customers and how it will go with their clothes. So, there was no room for questions from the customers’ point of view. It maintained this pattern on each of its product pages. It was indeed a clever solution to the problem of retaining authenticity in fashion marketing. For more information about using Visual Commerce in the fashion industry, take a look at our new white paper, “Sell Experiences, Not Clothes!”

B) J.Jill:

J.Jill, women’s apparel, footwear, and accessories store, is known for its strong commitment to social causes. It continued with this thread of warmth and humanity in one of its user generated content examples. It asked the audience to share how they connect with loved ones through posting images on social media with #JJillCompassion. All these images then curated in a gallery. What made it a complete campaign was the touch of gratification. Each participant had a chance to win gift cards and a linen tote.


C) Warby Parker:

Cleverness always works. Warby Parker, a popular brand of prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, thought the same when they came up with the idea of assimilating user-generated content into the purchasing process when it introduced its Home Try-On service. After availing this free service, five pairs of eyeglasses used to ship to a person’s home to try on for five days. The recipient of the delivery was encouraged to take pictures of himself with the different glasses on and share it to their social accounts with the hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn.



This approach simply worked for both the parties. Customers were able to accumulate countless feedback about their look. They were in a position to select one based on which look got more likes on the social media. The brand got more exposure as well as free advertisement of its products…and of course, a potential customer that is that much closer to purchasing.

D) Lay’s:

In one of our more elaborate user generated content examples, Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” campaign invited customers to come up with their own flavors and then allowed fans to vote on their favorites. It became a talk of the town mainly because of the gigantic prize money. It was one million dollars for the winning flavor idea. 3.8 million submissions don’t look a miracle when the prize money was more than staggering!

To further boost the customer participation, Lay’s asked its customers/audiences to vote for the best when it came down to three entries.



Of course, the hefty prize money was the hallmark of this campaign, but there are few learning curves too. Lay’s allowed its customers to be as creative as possible. It was a total freedom. From the beginning, Lay’s was able to keep it interesting and asking for votes was like icing on the cake. This type of engagement on product development also seemed to be very successful at keeping customers excited and feeling like their opinions matter. It really spread like fire on social media.

E) Infiniti:

With its “New Heights” contest to promote its Q30 model, the luxury car company Infiniti created one of our more involved user generated content example. It developed its Infiniti Q30 Augmented Reality app and asked its customers to download that app and print out the Q30 app maker. Then participants had to a click a photo of the 3D Q30 in imaginative situations, and upload their images to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, with the hashtag #Q30Challenges. But all these efforts were worthy. The prize included an all-inclusive trip to Budapest for two lucky winners.


The whole idea of the contest was interesting. But what was noticeable in it was the extra work that participants had to do. It may work sometimes, as it automatically filters out less dedicated people. This generally ensures the accumulation of high-quality UGC.

To Conclude…

Of course, there are many other great user generated content examples where great justice is done to its potential. And each and every example has something which you can inculcate in your UGC campaigns and contents. But one common thing among all the aforementioned examples is the ability of the campaign or the contest to turn your customer into an advocate and devoted marketer of your brand. And the ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is to create as many brand advocates as possible. If implemented cleverly, there is hardly anything as powerful as UGC to achieve that goal of creating brand advocates!

For more information about shoppable content, check out our indispensable guide to Visual Commerceour handbook to Visual Commerce for the fashion industry, and this post on the value of shoppable Instagram content!

The top 12 ways in which companies rewarded their customers this year.

The holidays are a time to give back and reflect on what went right (um, and wrong) this year. During this convivial time, we’d like to take a minute to appreciate the ways in which companies gave back to customers via brand advocacy and customer loyalty this year.  The reward of doing so isn’t just … Read more

Setting up Successful eCommerce

Contests are a great way to promote your social commerce and customer loyalty programs. Whether your contests are on your site, offline, or on any of the popular social media networks, their success is primarily dependent upon two things: planning and marketing. In this article I will cover planning: incentives, contest platforms, and the information … Read more

Omni-Channel Experience

In our technology-driven world, consumers have become dependent on using technology to shop and communicate with their favorite brands, making it critical for companies to embrace technology and create a brand experience that fits all types of shoppers. As a retailer or manufacturer, thinking of new and creative ways to attract new customers and keep … Read more

online shopping cart 2 sq

For a brand, providing your shoppers a memorable customer experience is crucial to keep them coming back and attracting new shoppers. There are many ways give them a great experience with your brand, however, with social media being an incredibly powerful communication tool, integrating social commerce into your marketing strategies is the most unique and … Read more



Discounting can be a valuable tactic to increase sales, however, some brands are worried about implementing discounts for fear that it may erode value and create perception of poor quality. When used strategically, discounting can increase sales and loyalty without causing negative brand perceptions. There are a number of ways to implement a smart discounting strategy while maintaining brand perception and drawing new customers, but it is useful to understand the root of some of the risks that come with discounting.

Some people are quick to point out the downsides of discounting, for example, if you had to lower product quality to maintain profit margins, that could potentially damage reputation, or if you maintained quality at the expense of profit margins, you could see competitors seemingly doing better. Businesses that offer discounts frequently manage to thrive; the trick is knowing how to leverage discounts as incentives for new customers who are on the fence about purchasing a product.

Solution: Target New Customers Intelligently

For manufacturers, retailers, and eCommerce companies alike, maintaining brand integrity is vital, so when offering discounts, you want to be able to target new customers without diluting brand value. Fortunately, there are tools available that include decision engines that target online “window shoppers” with discounts while excluding existing customers and those likely to make a purchase in the absence of a discount. Luxury cosmetics brand, Lancôme, used this technique and monitored analytics to detect patterns in website visitors’ buying habits. They not only successfully targeted discounts, but also learned valuable information they could leverage in future offers, such as which browser shoppers used most.

Put A Unique Twist on Discounting With Social Commerce

When you’re developing a discounting strategy, it’s important to try to be creative with it. Discounting helps attract new customers, turn on-the-fence shoppers into paying customers, and keep your current ones coming back. A unique and creative way to take your discounting to the next level is incorporating social commerce into your discounting strategy to maximize effect and drive even more sales. With social commerce, you can leverage the power and reach of social media and utilize discounts to give your customers incentives to engage with your brand This can be done by encouraging new customers to engage in contests or share and save campaigns, and reward your current loyal customers to refer their friends or share their recent purchases right after they make them. Social commerce gives you the power to entice new and current customers and keep them engaged with your brand and products.

Methods for Discounting Without Diluting Brand

When brands offer discounts, it’s crucial to ensure your strategy is well planned and calculated. Stephen Wunker of the consulting firm, New Markets Advisors, advises a five-step approach to intelligent discounting:

  1. Offer discounted products separately from the core brand if possible
  2. Target a different customer type with your discounting, such as targeting a younger demographic
  3.  Emphasize tiers of value with core and discount brands
  4. Use different sales channels for different value tiers, market core, and discounted products
  5. Publicize timely positive influencer reviews of the discounted products

With social media marketing and analytics enabling brands to target more selective offers and understand price elasticity limits, broad blanket discounts are becoming less necessary. Other tactics, like free trials, may reduce perceived value of a product, but not as much as discounts do, so discounts should be only one of many techniques in your repertoire.

Testing Your Discount Strategy Is Essential

Since there is no single discount strategy that works for one brand, it is important to test and monitor your strategy based on several factors, such as seasonal demand, stacked promotions, and demand within certain niches. This can be done by incorporating A/B testing to see which campaign and strategy works best for you and your audience. For a brand, it is important to find the right balance between generating sales and maintaining profitability while maintaining your brand image. Discounting can be done without harming brand image as long as you strategically plan and execute to make it work.

Using a dashboard or analytics tool is crucial to help ensure you are receiving optimal results and achieving your return on investment and revenue goals. Having a dashboard, such as Annex Cloud’s comprehensive Social Commerce dashboard gives brands valuable customer demographic and social graph data so they can see how well their discounting strategies are doing. For example, if you implement a Share and Save campaign, Annex Cloud’s dashboard will give you clear and extensive knowledge on how much your sales and revenue increased despite the discount.

While discounting shouldn’t be done simply to drive sales, it should be an element within your overall marketing strategy. Brands need to look at their discount strategy in the long term and weigh the risks and benefits. When you implement discounting, ensure you are closely monitoring results to gain better insights on maintaining profitability without diminishing your brand’s image. When discounting is used with precision and monitored closely, it can be a valuable technique for gaining new customers and developing their loyalty.



[White Paper]
[White Paper]