Monthly Archives - January 2014

showrooming customer shopping

Convert Showrooming Shoppers to Sales

How To Embrace Showrooming To Your Advantage

showrooming customer shopping

Showrooming continues to be a common practice with shoppers these days.  Here’s how it works. The consumer:

– Drives to a local retail location that sells what he/she wants to buy

– Investigates the product that they’re interested in

– Checks prices online at other retailers’ websites via search or by simply scanning the product’s barcode

– Purchases the product from an online competitor for less than the store he/she just visited

It’s another way that smartphones are fundamentally changing our lives. And showrooming is not rare: in a marketing study as many as 45% of consumers said they’d leave a brick and mortar store for a discount as low as 2.5%.

Showrooming became a major issue for retailers when Amazon released an app called “Amazon Pricecheck”, which allowed app users to scan a product in-store and check Amazon’s online prices. In addition, Amazon gave app users a 5% discount on the product they scanned. The initial response of retailers was to aggressively combat showrooming. Best Buy responded to showrooming by changing their product barcodes to prevent customers from scanning them. Target stopped selling Amazon’s Kindles in response to the Amazon price check app.

Did it stop showrooming? Of course not: declaring war on showrooming does not work. All Best Buy and Target proved is that overly aggressive responses, even if effective, upset consumers. Even consumers that don’t do in-store comparison shopping voiced outrage over the “insulting” tactics. Plus, there are a many other apps and search tools such as RedLaser and Google shopping that facilitate price comparisons along with customer reviews. 

The problem is not that customers are able to check for less expensive products. Consumers were doing that long before smartphones came along. The real problem is that customers have reduced your brand to a product and a price. Few companies can compete on price alone.

There are immediate steps that you can take  that have proven to lessen the impact of showrooming and they include:

Allow customers to order online and pickup in-store. This helps retailers greatly improve customer service and turn their stores into powerful assets that pure e-commerce retailers can’t match.

Mobile apps. Create a useful mobile app that enables product browsing, access to reviews, offers incentives, and shows product availability in-store.  Ideally, your app should also allow online shopping and pick-up with quick turn-around-times.

mobile showrooming shopperAvailable product selection and inventory. Keeping inventory levels for in-demand products is also key and fuels the consumer’s demand and need for immediate access or gratification at a reasonable price.

Exchange/return policy and extraordinary customer service. Customers may prefer to buy in-store even at a higher price if you offer great customer service and a fair exchange and/or return policy. Again, it’s about convenience and service for consumers who are already in your store. Offer customers an amazing shopping experience and turn showrooming shoppers into repeat and loyal customers.

Provide consistent pricing and promotions. If consumers know that they’re getting the retailer’s best price in the store, it’s far easier to complete the transaction immediately – instead of shoppers going home to research prices or look for better promotions.

In the long term, retailers need to differentiate their brand and customer service so that consumers see them as more than just a product and a price. Nowadays there are many other apps and search tools such as RedLaser and Google shopping that facilitate access to price comparisons along with customer reviews. Businesses must focus on the customer experience, align their brand with socially and/or environmentally responsible causes, encourage shopping local or at small businesses, create customer loyalty programs, empower workers to provide superior service, and offer unique products and/or services.

Here are a few examples:

– Apple offers great products, amazing customer service, and available inventory.

– TOMS’ customers feel like they’re changing the world with every purchase of their unique products.

– Dicks Sporting Goods created an app with links to online videos about their products. It creates such a rich shopping experience that consumers may not bother looking for a better price.

In the meantime, any small business or big-box retailer who continues to think it can thwart showrooming without stepping up their game may continue to struggle, lose loyal customers and their competitive edge.

place based media and digital signage

Place-Based Media Delivers The Right Message via Digital Signage

Digital Signage Advertising Enhances Customer Experience

digital signage advertising

Place-based media is about delivering the right message at the right place and time – when customers are making a purchasing decision. It enables you to communicate via screens at customer touch points and market your business more intelligently and cost-effectively.

The locations that customers frequent serve as powerful filters in the sales and marketing process. Place-based media optimizes your marketing efforts to cater to your most important customers – the ones making buying decisions right now! Your most important customers are those currently shopping for your product. Place-based media is a proven tool that lets you grow your revenue by focusing on them.

Also known as out-of-home advertising (OOH), digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising, or interactive digital signage, place-based media has outpaced the growth of the Internet. This trend is driven by lower infrastructure costs and the ability to deliver targeted and optimized rich interactive signs and digital advertising

Using a variety of formatted resonant screens, unique IP addresses and built in computers, content can be tailored and delivered to respond to anyone within its reach. Dynamic digital content can be shaped by audiences and events and then integrated in the daily routines of consumers more effectively than other media.

In addition to being seen as more interesting and entertaining than most media, digital signage advertising can foster immediate action. This fact alone, explains why this new media is embraced by marketers looking to engage the consumer direct response experience rather than simply broadcasting a message.

Place-based media is now seen as a central component of new retail designs. Cost, size and impact of digital platforms has created a new era of “infotainment”.  Simply hanging a screen on an empty wall, from the ceiling or on a shelf will no longer do it.

As with all marketing, any place-based media offering must be relevant to the consumer, the brand and the location. The key is to keep your eye on the consumer and remain sensitive to his/her needs. The unique characteristics of place-based media allows for the creation of marketing strategies that serve the following functions:

* Branding
* Product information
* Promotions
* Enhanced customer experience
* Coupons
* Third-party advertising
* Awareness
* Entertainment

Place-based media with its ability to attract and keep the attention of consumers (and get them involved) is having significantly greater promotional impact than traditional marketing and advertising media.

Social Media Optimization (SMO)

Social Media Optimization Impact on SEO

Building Social Media Profiles Impacts Search Engine Optimization

Social Media Optimization (SMO)

Trying to get more exposure online? Want to connect and engage with fans and customers better? Boost or rebuild your online reputation? If you answered yes to any of these questions regarding your personal or business brand online, then creating social media profiles are an absolute must. Social media nowadays acts as an extension of your brand and enables your customers to feel closer and have more ways to contact and interact with you as well as fellow customers. It’s in many ways an extension of your company’s branding, PR, marketing, and customer service departments. Creating this easy access to you helps build customer loyalty and consumer trust, two things that lead to acquiring good reviews and therefore a good online reputation. It’s also worthy to note that the number of online reviews and the positivity of those reviews are also big factors in local search rankings.

Why are social media profiles so important?

Think of each social media profile as another landing page for your brand. You never know how someone will have that first encounter with you. It could be direct to your website, through an online review or perhaps via a social channel like Facebook or Twitter. However they reach you, that first impression must be first-rate so the visitor will want to learn more about you or your business. Consistency across your social networking profiles is also essential to maintaining your brand recognition.

One of the most important reasons for having comprehensive and up-to-date social media profiles is that it improves SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO may seem complicated, but it’s mainly all about optimizing content, on a website or on a social media platform, in order to appear higher in search rankings. Creating strong social media profiles across various channels will boost your rankings on the search engine results page (SERP), that is when people search for you or for words or phrases relevant to content on your website.

Create top-notch social media profiles

Social Media ProfileHere are some tips for creating top-notch social media profiles:

•  Guidelines & Specs – Know your social media network design guidelines and specs. Although, various channels may have similarities, each social network has its own image specs and limitations. A profile image for your Facebook page may not work for your Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, or Instagram page.

•  Imagery & Media – Add pictures, video, audio, etc. pursuant to social media design specs and guidelines. Incorporating show-stopping images and multimedia (where allowed) makes your profile stand out and more interesting for visitors as well. Hire a professional if needed because this is critical for your brand identity.

•   UpdateBe sure to update and refresh your social media profile images from time-to-time (monthly, quarterly, or other time frame), depending on your needs in order to keep current and relevant images/information on your social networks.

The bar has been raised and in order for you to be memorable, creating compelling, well-designed graphics and media are essential and should be coordinated with all social media, branding, and marketing efforts.

SMO or Social Media Optimization

SMO or Social Media Optimization is about optimizing a website and its content in terms of sharing across social media and networking sites. SMO, a term first used in 2006 by Rohit Bhargava in his article “5 Rules of Social Media Optimization” is a lot like “social SEO.”  It’s the notion that social media links and interaction play a significant role in a website’s search rankings. It’s similar to SEO in that the goal is to generate traffic and awareness for a website, however, SMO suggests that the use of a number of social media signals will generate more publicity and increased awareness. SMO is more concerned with quality of content, expertise of author and the user experience all of which helps to improve SEO performance.

As social networks continue to evolve and search engines look for these social signals to help rank content, the relationship of SMO with SEO is becoming more and more important. Social signals are becoming the new “link” in terms of overall importance in search rankings. The value of links as a ranking signal will more than likely not completely disappear, but the impact of social signals will eventually surpass links as the more valuable ranking factor. Check out the Social Media Marketing Optimizer (Infographic).

Improving your website’s social impact

The social media elements to focus on in your website include items/buttons that allow visitors to:

•    Share Content – Recommend, like, tweet, etc.
•    Connect to Social Media Profiles – Use buttons to connect through to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn pages, etc.
•    Access a Blog – For updated and relevant content on your blog page.

You should ideally engage in all social media platforms that are relevant for your business. If you’re just getting started, then you may want to begin with a Facebook or Twitter page to get familiar and then later add new social media profiles. The more you’re out there with an online presence the better it is for business and brand integrity.

•    Facebook page
•    Twitter account
•    LinkedIn company page
•    Pinterest account
•    Google+ account
•    Youtube account
•    Other social media platforms

Once you have a presence in each of these social channels, it will help to establish the credibility of your brand. Here are additional tips:

•    Be social! – Network and start a dialogue with people. Start by spending some time visiting other people’s profiles, adding new friends/connections and commenting. You must engage and reach out to build new relationships.
•    Content – Content is key but what’s more important is to add new content regularly. With social media, posts are quickly archived and can disappear within a few days or hours even. Create an editorial calendar or schedule for posting regularly, remember quality is better than quantity so don’t post for the sake of posting something new. Make it count.
•    Shareable Content – Add share buttons for all of your social media sites. Integrate these buttons as much as possible on your website, blogs and other content to leverage traffic you already have. In addition, if you’re creating interesting, relevant and useful content then encourage your visitors to share it! When your content goes viral it can result in a lot of exposure for you.
•    Keyword Optimization – Get your keywords and key phrases into your profiles and posts but only when it works. That is, incorporate your keywords naturally. You don’t want to compromise the “user experience” because you’re focused on keywords and SEO.
•    Be Thorough – Search engines show preference for profiles with all the details filled in. Be sure to be as detailed as possible in the “about”, “information” and “bio” sections. Doing so also creates a more professional and comprehensive appearance.
•    Timing – Be mindful of the timing of your posts and monitor results. You may find certain times of day get you a better response therefore focus on those high traffic time frames.
•    Analytics – Use the analytics tools provided by the social media sites, Google Analytics, and pay attention to what people are doing. Monitoring behavior will tell you what’s working and what isn’t. If some features aren’t being used, then you can eliminate them, revamp or try something new.
•    It’s Not All About You – Not all your posts should be about self-promotion. Of course there’s an element of self-promotion in social media but remember to also focus on topics that are helpful to your network and/or that offer advice or beneficial information.

It’s important to be personal and sincere on social media. By consistently providing interesting and exciting content, you’ll inspire others to share your posts and attract more search engine traffic.

Common mistakes to avoid:

•    Don’t forget to make your business’s social media sites PUBLIC.
•    Be sure to customize your URL. Use a vanity URL.
•    Don’t forget to use your business’s name as your Page name.
•    Upload images with meaningful titles or file names rather than Photo1 or IMG1287. Image SEO can also help your rank.
•    If something appears to be a fast and easy way to improve your SEO it’s probably a black hat tactic (i.e. bad). Google frowns on these unethical techniques and penalizes those who implement them.

Remember, if SEO and SMO sounds overwhelming you’re not alone! These don’t happen overnight. Developing strong and optimized social media profiles takes time. Be patient and always focus on developing an eye-opening and exciting experience for your customers, as this will help you build your business through natural word-of-mouth, online and offline.