Redefining Your Brand Image through Omnichannel Marketing Strategies

by Natasha Ambavle |

Redefining Your Brand Image through Omnichannel Marketing Strategies

According to Omnichannel Marketing Automation Statistics by ClickZ “Omnichannel campaigns saw an 18.96% engagement rate, while single-channel saw just a 5.4% engagement rate.” The report also states that omnichannel campaigns produce a 250% higher rate of purchase frequency than most single-channel campaigns and offer 90% higher customer retention rate than the latter as well.” The … Read more

Omnichannel Approach – The Future of eCommerce

omnichannel ecommerce

Just when you thought having a strong online presence and digital marketing capabilities was enough to gain a competitive edge, cult-favorite brands began adopting the omnichannel approach. With unimaginable technological capabilities at hand, intuitive brands and game-changers began speculating, ‘How can we use these advancements to amp up customer experience?’ Omnichannel eCommerce is the result … Read more

Omnichannel Customer Experience – Vantage Point for Holistic Engagement

omnichannel customer experience

Two decades ago, it was much easier to communicate and connect with your audience. The mediums were limited, so the message was seldom lost. Twenty years later, the audience, the competition, and communication channels have been multiplied. It has become increasingly difficult to deliver relevant information to your target audience, plus a higher probability of … Read more

How to Elevate Your Customer Loyalty Program

ecommerce and customer loyalty

When it comes to customer loyalty and marketing for ecommerce, it’s crucial to stay on top of current trends. Simply having a plug-and-play loyalty program doesn’t do it anymore. It’s about creating a complete digital experience catered to your brand as well as your customers. But what can a retailer do to take their loyalty … Read more

Customer Loyalty Trends: the Growth of mCommerce

mcommerce

The trends toward mobile commerce are skyrocketing. Everything we buy, plane tickets, groceries, and fashions are all available at your fingertips. Way too often I’ve been in the gas station around the corner and realized I left my wallet a block away. Before this would have been embarrassing as they canceled my transaction but with … Read more

What Instagram Checkout Means for Customer Loyalty

Instagram Checkout

In 2019, 60% of Instagram users claimed to use the platform to seek and discover new products (Hootesuite). They recently rolled out one of the largest releases in its history. The new Instagram Checkout is now able to support direct sales through the app. Though in beta and very limited in scope, this function is … Read more

Omni-Channel Loyalty Drives Customer Experience

omni-channel loyalty

We all know that the purchase cycle doesn’t always begin and end in one place. When guiding your customers through a purchase, are you reaching them at every possible touchpoint? A consumer may first encounter your product on Instagram, research similar items on different websites, and then make their purchase in-store. Between each of those … Read more

Watch Chief Strategist Al Lalani Present Key Insights on Mobile & Omni-Channel

etail west 2019

Annex Cloud’s Chief Strategist Al Lalani as he presents on Omni-Channel Moments at eTail West 2019 This last week the Annex Cloud Events team went on the road to eTail West 2019 in Palm Springs! As usual, our chief strategist Al Lalani was heavily involved in speaker discussions and thought leadership. On Day 2, he … Read more

Inside the Industry’s Best Customer Loyalty Programs

Best Customer Loyalty Programs

Are you looking to implement a Best customer loyalty programs within your business or improve your existing Best customer loyalty programs? You may be scratching your head at how industry-leading companies like Costco, Verizon and Sephora can maintain outrageously high customer retention rates while simultaneously keeping customer satisfaction high. There may seem to be a great … Read more

Ask an Expert: MacKenzie-Childs’ CMO Speaks Customer Loyalty

mackenzie-childs marketing

Welcome to our new segment, Ask an Expert! With this series, Annex Cloud interviews some prominent figures in ecommerce and retail to gain insight on industry trends. This week, we interviewed Larry Shaw, Chief Marketing Officer of MacKenzie-Childs. Since 1983, MacKenzie-Childs has designed home decor and artisan furnishings in their quaint farmhouse in Aurora, NY. Every teapot is hand-painted and each clay cookie jar is carefully molded. We worked with Larry on building their trulyMC customer loyalty program, and this is what he had to say:

What is the single greatest inspiration behind the trulyMC loyalty program?

Every year we have a live barn sale where over 25,000 of our most devoted customers visit our farm in Aurora. These people have so much passion for what we do so we wanted to take that experience and apply it on a grander scale. By implementing trulyMC, we were able to begin building and shaping that community.

Larry has over 25 years of retail experience and has implemented many creative initiatives since joining the MacKenzie-Childs team as CMO in 2016. Their branding is built on the quality and craftsmanship of the pieces they sell. They built a powerful marketing strategy behind their products with three retail stores, an ecommerce site, and a strong social media presence. However, adding a tiered customer loyalty program has been a total game changer for them.

What effect has loyalty had on your customer retention efforts?

After only eight months of implementing our omni-channel loyalty program with referral marketing, we’re already seeing a 9-10% increase in our customer retention rate. To see those numbers so quickly has been remarkable for us.

In addition to the increase in retention rate, they also saw major increases in average order value, new content subscribers, and purchase frequency. So much so that we decided to co-author the MacKenzie-Childs Loyalty Case Study with them, which dives into how we built the program and why we saw so much success.

mackenzie-childs trulymc loyalty programHow do you think Annex Cloud has helped you reach your goals?

Annex Cloud has been willing to customize their platform and processes to accommodate our specific program needs. It being a tiered customer loyalty program, we knew it would require some customized features. But instead of seeing it as a negative, Annex Cloud saw it as good challenge.

To dive more into how we helped MacKenzie-Childs build more loyalty with their customers, check out our case study! Annex Cloud’s unified platform with customer loyalty, user-generated content, and referral marketing functionality allows brands to customize their programs to their unique specifications. To learn how Annex Cloud can help you with your customer loyalty needs, contact us for a free consultation!

 

Top 5 Add-On Features for Your Customer Loyalty Program

customer-loyalty-program

You have a customer loyalty program, so you’re off to the right start! But now it’s been implemented and you’re seeing the value in its performance, you’re probably thinking, “Now what?” We get it, you want to see your customer loyalty program perform to the best of its ability. And now that your business is scaling, you want more tools to boost conversion, engagement, and retention.

As much as it’s very important to promote customer rewards, more and more companies are implementing other loyalty marketing features to help complement those efforts. Though not every tool will be right for your business, it’s important to review your options. That being said, here are the top five features to help you boost retention and really make your loyalty program gain value.

User Generated Content

We now live in an age of distraction where customer attention is at an all-time low. Consumers aren’t trusting traditional advertising as much and believe peer reviews are the most trusted source. That means user-generated content is a pivotal tool for conversion. So by opening up the discussion with Q&A, visual commerce, and product ratings, you’re organically building out your community and fostering a group of brand advocates. Not only does it help your awareness grow, but you’ll see an increase in ROI, an increase average order value, and a decrease in customer turnover.

Omni channel loyalty
According to Google, omni-channel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those using only one channel.

Omni-Channel Loyalty

It’s so very important to spread your brand’s message across as many channels as possible. Whether it be products on your website, in-store signage, or through email marketing efforts, building consistent branding with a strong omni-channel presence has proven to be a more effective strategy. Annex Cloud has a unique approach to omni-channel, some tactics include integrating your POS system for in-store purchases, creating a custom loyalty app, and even retrieving customer insight with the its data receipt aggregator. According to Nielsen, Americans spend an average of 11 hours per day engaging with various media, including television, internet, radio, and other advertising. With that much media consumption, brands must diversify and find balance among their marketing channels.

Visual Commerce

Though this ties back into your user-generated content strategy, visual commerce allows you to create brilliant product galleries featuring your own customers. Consumers often feel that staged and advertised photos aren’t as relevant to their lives. They like seeing similar people with similar interests using similar products. Visual Commerce channels with targeted tags bring all of these products together into one aesthetically pleasing gallery. You can also tie this in with your loyalty program by rewarding points for users who add images with those products. This influences your consumers to share more content, which creates more brand trust within your community. You can then use those catered product galleries for your website, email, and social media campaigns.

Referral Marketing

We said it before and we’ll say it again, consumers trust peer recognition over traditional sources of advertising. And for that reason, it’s very important to use your most loyal customers as brand ambassadors to their friends. By building a program that gives personalized incentives to your customers and their friends, you’re opening up an entirely new market for your products. Referral marketing helps you expand your customer base at a minimum cost to you. According to Huff Post, those referred customers will have on average a 25% higher lifetime value compared to non-referred customers. Make the most out of your network by implementing referrals into your loyalty program.

Data Integrations

How your brand embraces tech can be the difference between success and failure in retail. It’s so important to offer data integrations to give your potential customers the best user experience possible. If they have difficulty purchasing from you, they can find a similar product with a better UX somewhere else. Tools like social login are huge because not only are you helping the customer buy, but you’re now gaining significant insight into their social behavior. Other features like single sign-on and registration as a service help eliminate data gaps and keep your customer data safe. All of these add-ons create stickiness between you and the customer, which turns into brand loyalty over time.

Optimizing the performance of your customer loyalty program is crucial, and adding features that complement those efforts can be the major differentiator. Annex Cloud builds custom solutions for user-generated content, referral marketing, and omni-channel loyalty. Regardless of if you already have customer loyalty with us, we can help you lower cost of acquisition, cost of retention, and build a community around your brand. If you have any questions about UGC or referral marketing, contact us for a complimentary consultation!

The “Makeup” of Sephora’s Marketing Strategy

Sephora's Marketing Strategy

It’s no mystery that Sephora has seen major wins in the beauty industry. Since 1969, this cosmetics brand has sold millions of units in retail stores worldwide and continues to thrive today. But what is it about Sephora’s marketing strategy that sets them apart from similar companies like Ulta and Glossier? What is it about them that other brands just can’t keep up with? The short answer is loyalty. More specifically,  how they use personalized loyalty to build a community of beauty advocates.

Unique Customer Loyalty Structure

What differentiates Sephora’s marketing strategy is its approach to rewards. Though they do have a points-for-purchase model, there is so much more that goes into it. For example, in their rewards bazaar, they have new incentives every Tuesday and Thursday and customers can browse a massive gallery of available products. And their unique collection offers limited edition and exclusive product releases solely for its rewards members. With more perks like free makeovers and complimentary birthday samples, it’s easy to see why so many beauty enthusiasts rave about Sephora.

Sephora's Marketing StrategyTo get a better understanding of why people are so loyal to the brand, I asked long-time customer and beauty enthusiast Erin Duff her thoughts on Sephora. “I’ve been a Sephora member for over 11 years and it’s because they have such high quality products from so many different brands. I love that you have the option to spend a few rewards points for a sample of something or save up and get big like a custom makeover.”

User Generated Content

Sephora has set the standard as far as what cosmetic brands should be doing with their user generated content. Take the Insider Beauty Community, for example. It consists of forums surrounding beauty tips, live chats with influencers, and stunning photo galleries. But what I think they do really well in UGC is visual commerce. With many gated channels like Makeup is Life and Best Hair Ever, users are able to post and see pictures to help them guide their purchase decisions. All of this has helped grow Sephora grow and sustain a massive presence with over 15 million subscribers on their website and social media.

Omni-Channel Loyalty

Whether it’s online sales, in-store, or at events, Sephora uses creative ways to retain its customers among all channels. They do a great job of advertising their loyalty program to their network and it’s evident by their impressive online sales and growing list of retail locations. Their unique spin on omni-channel is the work they do with live events. They are constantly advertising beauty classes, makeover events, and of course their epic annual conference Sephoria.

Sephora's Marketing StrategySephoria is a one-of-a-kind live forum where influencers, patrons, and celebrities all collaborate and discuss what’s happening in beauty. Their events and creative marketing strategies help reach a more engaged community and turn Sephora’s avid followers into brand advocates. “By fostering personal connections and generating brand love over the years, it’s only natural that we leverage their input and further strengthen our program beyond just perks and discounts,” says Deborah Yeh, senior vice president of marketing and brand at Sephora.

Sephora’s network is continuing to grow and there’s a reason for that. They have implemented many of the right marketing and loyalty strategies to not only grow their customer base, but to retain it as well. Annex Cloud believes that the right combination of customer loyalty, user-generated content, and omni-channel strategies are the keys to retention. We work with many similar beauty and fashion brands and use loyalty to help them nurture and build real relationships with their customers. If you have any questions about marketing or loyalty, contact us or schedule a consultation today!

Why Your Ecommerce Sales Strategy is Incomplete Without a Customer Loyalty Solution

Customer Loyalty

Once upon a time, an ecommerce company could get away with just a simple website that sold products. Then one day the industry progressed to the point that we all needed to incorporate an email service provider. And now, we have Amazon, Walmart.com, and the other retail powerhouses creating new standards for ecommerce fulfillment, price, and service. According to TechCrunch, Amazon accounts for 49% of all ecommerce sales. The closest competitor is eBay with 5% of total ecommerce transactions. This chaotic battle for market share has forced other retailers to get creative with how they use customer loyalty to incentivize their customers.

Ecommerce SalesThe Amazon Effect:

In 2017, Amazon saw $177 billion in sales revenue. This year, they’re projected to clear $258 billion. Features like Q&A, item comparison, and peer reviews have forced smaller retailers to get creative with their own user experience.

They also built one of the most unique customer loyalty programs in retail history. With its innovative paid loyalty model, Amazon Prime has changed the way millions of us shop each year. It’s also very diverse in scope, as Prime subscription benefits can range from free two-day shipping to streaming thousands of movies. And now that Amazon has acquired Whole Foods, it’s become that much more convenient for the customer. And to think it all started with books…

The Issues:

With the dominance of the third party aggregators like Amazon, Google Shop, and Walmart.com, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep a consumer’s attention. So many factors come into play on why this is such a problem.

Distractions:

When your products are being advertised on third party sites, they’re being compared apples-to-apples against hundreds of similar products. Google Shop’s comparison tool places the most relevant goods with the best price right next to your products. Not only that, but customers are channel-hopping across various ecommerce sites, social media, and other sources to get as much information as possible about your product. According to a study done by CommerceHub, 86% of purchasers change channels when buying online. So if your reviews, Q&A, and product descriptions don’t check out, your potential customer has a lot of other options to choose from.

Trust:

customer loyaltyThe cost of acquisition is currently higher than the cost of inflation, a detrimental stat for marketers and ecommerce professionals. This is attributed to lack of trust in retailers and institutions in general. “The trust that consumers have in brands is going down tremendously,” stated Al Lalani, Chief Strategist of Annex Cloud. “Customers are researching more and looking for peer reviews across many channels, thus increasing the acquisition cost of that customer.”

The Solutions:

Though there is no one simple solution to this problem, there are a few strategies that can help your brand better position itself against the competition.

Omni-channel:

It’s so vital for a brand to have a strong presence across all industry-related platforms. That includes a great ecommerce store, third party aggregators, mobile devices, and social media. Once a customer is acquired through a good omni-channel campaign, it’s important to incentivize them to return for future purchases. This is done with omni-channel loyalty. Say you’re a shoe manufacturer and a customer just purchased your shoes on Amazon. Because advertising on Amazon means more cost to you and more distraction to your customer, it’s in your best interest to convince the customer to purchase from you directly in the future. This can be done by incentivizing the consumer with offers like $10 off their next shoe purchase or offering free socks with each purchase.

Retention Through Customer Loyalty:

No matter how you acquire a customer, it’s important to make them want to buy from you again. The cost of acquiring a customer is greater than the cost of retaining a customer, so incentivizing right after the initial point of purchase is your best chance of nurturing that relationship. According to Ciceron, a satisfied customer will contribute on average 14x more revenue to a business compared to a dissatisfied customer. It’s about not only rewarding after a purchase, but incentivizing them when they take actions like posting photos with your products. It’s about breaking out of the points-for-purchase model and building a real community around your brand. When you cater to your customers, they gain a sense of inclusion and are more likely to purchase in the future.

Annex Cloud helps bridge the gap between retailer and consumer. By working with the retailer and creating a custom loyalty solution, we generally see an increased average order value and decreased cost of retention. The old days of getting by on an ecommerce site alone are behind us. It’s an absolute necessity for retailers to incentivize their customers with customer loyalty. If you either don’t have a loyalty program or you just want to get more out of your program, contact us and we’ll be sure to help you out!

10 Most Important Features for Your UGC Software

ugc

UGC encompasses a variety of content types, whether it be photos, reviews, or even Q&A. Choosing the right user-generated content software can be the key to honing all of this content. In a market that is more likely to trust its peers over commercials, UGC is an investment. Keep in mind, however, that not all UGC programs offer the same capabilities and features. Before you choose, here are the most important functionalities to look for in your user-generated content software.

Important Features of UGC Software

Omni-Channel Capability:

As a thriving business, it’s important to be available to sell products online, via POS, and any channel where your brand has relevance. Consumers want to be able to access everything instantly and are more likely to lose patience with brands that are not able to provide omni-compatible options. A program that is limited to only computers is simply not worth the cost because it will leave a significant portion of your consumers unable to do everything that they want to do.

Photo Uploads:

Images are a major source of UGC. Adults share thousands of images per day and the modern consumer is more likely to accept a peer photo than a professional advertisement. The right software will allow you to harness and collect user uploads. You want a software that can keep track of tagged images as well as images that are uploaded to your website. Keep in mind that you may still need permission to use uploaded images. This is especially true if you are using images of children, which require parental permission. At this point, a software that allows you to easily send permission request emails is also helpful.

Influencer Marketing

Ambassador Marketing:

Whether you are working with a social media influencer or simply reaching out to your most loyal customers, activating your ambassadors is key to advancing your brand in today’s market. A good software program will allow you to give your ambassadors an easy way to promote your brand.

Content Syndication:

This tool allows you to get the most out of your UGC by sharing photos and written content across all of your websites and sales channels. Whether you have a particularly good review or an amazing image, content syndication allows you to optimize your UGC content across all of your available avenues.

User Selection:

Similar to user targeting, this function allows you to select the best customers for your content needs. For instance, if you need content for a review or a question and answer section, the software will identify users who have not only purchased the items, but who are also more familiar with your brand. A similar process allows users who have bought an item to be contacted if a question arises. So if someone has a question about a specific product, the algorithm will find a consumer who has not only bought that product but who is knowledgeable and known to participate.
Brand Engagement

 Engagement:

The best program will allow you to target the right customer base for your UGC campaign. For instance, not all of your customers will be willing to post an image. Many require the correct incentive at the correct time. The best UGC programs can now isolate key points where a consumer is most likely to be receptive. The same UGC program should also be capable of sending an email that is worthy of consumer attention.

Content Selection:

Image ranking and content sifting are also important features in your algorithm. Image ranking automatically shows you the best images based on your choices. Meanwhile, content sifting helps ensure that your content remains professional and free of spam advertisements or profanity.

Image Display:

This feature allows you to take your UGC images and place them anywhere on your site or on a partner site. Ideally, that image would then link back to the product page.

Workflow Moderation:

Sometimes, a customer question or comment needs to be addressed by your staff. A good example is a customer who has not received a product or who has received a defective product. In some cases, a consumer may not reach out to customer service and may choose to instead vent his disappointment on your website. Once that consumer comments on your site, you have the chance to remedy the situation. A good software will identify that type of content and notify the correct members of your staff to help you remedy the problem. This not only makes one dissatisfied consumer happy, but it also shows other consumers who are reading that you are willing to do more in terms of customer service.

Third Party Compatibility:

Whether you have a loyalty program or another type of rewards option, you should have the opportunity to integrate your UGC software. With most companies expanding their own loyalty programs to include points for social actions and content sharing, combining UGC incentives and loyalty rewards is the next step.

If you are looking for a comprehensive UGC solution to meet all of the above criteria and more, Annex Cloud should be at the top of your list. We work with a variety of platforms to deliver the best in UGC program capability. At Annex Cloud, helping our clients succeed is a point of pride, which is why our dedicated support staff is available to help guide you through the process!

Engage More Shoppers with In-Mail and Offline Reviews

offline reviews

We all know that user generated content (UGC) like ratings and reviews, questions and answers, and visual commerce boosts conversion by offering trustworthy points of view from your own customers on various social sharing platforms. Consumers trust UGC 12x more than they trust information from businesses, and visitors who interact with UGC are 105% more likely to buy. Given its importance, how can you make submissions as easy as possible, and make sure that you’re asking as many customers as possible to contribute? There are numerous review platforms but solutions like in-mail and offline reviews stand out and can help immensely.

What are In-Mail Reviews?

In-mail reviews refer to the practice of embedding review forms within emails, so shoppers don’t have to visit a separate page in order to write a review. With traditional online product reviews, users will receive a solicitation email with a link to the product display page of the item in question. Shoppers have to click the link, log in, and then submit a review. Many of them don’t have the patience to do this! In-mail reviews consolidate the review process into one step, drastically improving review submission rates. Check out our example below from Kal Tire, Canada’s largest independent tire dealer. kal tire review in email offline reviews Not content to just improve review volume and quality this way, Kal Tire used our in-mail reviews to solicit contributions from in-store customers. This brings us to the world of offline reviews!

How Do Offline Reviews Work?

Offline reviews invite your brick-and-mortar customers to share their opinions. It’s a win-win, since many of the industries that find review content to be extremely important also have a high percentage of in-store purchases. When you have even minimal data–just names, email addresses, and purchases–on your in-store customers, you can make offline reviews a reality. For Kal Tire, we’re taking data from 250 different stores, feeding it into our Ratings and Reviews platform, and then sending out in-mail reviews. Shoppers have been happy to contribute, and this high-quality content is already paying off!

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