Black Friday discounting increases next season’s purchasing

I knew Black Friday had reached ‘late adopter’ stage this week when a company I’d bought fencing panels from - fencing panels – emailed me their holiday season promotions. But the real question is whether all these promotions serve to drive customer loyalty or just attract bargain hunters? At Littledata we looked at aggregate data from 143 retailers who participated most in 2016 Black Friday, versus 143 retailers who did not. For the first 23 days of November 2017 – before Black Friday – the median year-on-year increase in sales was 13% for those pushing discounts the previous year, versus only 1% growth for those avoiding Black Friday discounting *. Our conclusion is that retailers who discounted most heavily on Black Friday 2016 saw a lasting benefit in extra sales a year after the sales period. However, we don’t know whether these extra sales were profitable enough to pay for the seasonal promotions. Another possible explanation is that higher-growth retailers are more active in marketing Black Friday, but in either event the discount season has done them no harm over the following year. In a follow up post next week we’ll compare the peak discount trading – and see if on average these same stores increased their participation this year or reigned it back. Looking at 2016, it seems Black Friday was bigger than the year before for our cohort of 270 UK retailers – but at the expense of sales later in the season. Yet in the UK we are not close to US-levels of hysteria yet, where a much greater proportion of the last quarter’s sales are done on that weekend. The other interesting question is what sectors does Black Friday affect? Reflecting back on my 2016 post, it may be a surprise that the biggest boost of over 100% average increase in sales comes for Health & Beauty stores; whereas technology and computer stores on average saw a boost of 40% for the week. (The graph shows the difference with the average sales volumes in November & December, by sector, for 3 selected weeks.) And perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by those fencing panels: business and industrial sites saw a big boost too! Interested in tracking online sales activity for your own site this holiday shopping season? Littledata's ecommerce analytics software provides accurate data and automated reporting to help you track promotions and drive conversions and customer loyalty. [subscribe] * The statistical detail I took a group of 573 retailers we have tracked for at least 2 years, and looked at the ratio of Black Friday weekend sales (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday) to the 2 month average for November and December. Those in the top quartile (trading 2.6 times above average during the Black Friday season) were deemed to have participated; those in the bottom quartile, showing a dip in trading over that weekend were deemed not to have participated. I then looked at the year-on-year growth in revenue between November 2016 (first 23 days) and the same period in November 2017, for the discount versus non-discount group. A t-test between the groups found a 18% probability that the two groups had the same mean, not allowing us to dismiss the null hypothesis.  

2017-11-24

How to dramatically increase revenue with Refersion and affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing consistently outperforms other channels for ecommerce businesses. In this special guest post, Refersion's Robert Woo shares essential tips about how Littledata customers can get a piece of the action. Affiliate marketing is a powerful channel to drive sales, but is surprisingly overlooked by many small and medium-sized businesses. In a 2016 report by Heinz Marketing, referrals made the most positive impact on revenue for businesses, by far. As business owners know, the easiest sales come from customer recommendations to their friends and family. Especially for SMBs, word-of-mouth is often the backbone of how they acquire new customers. Now here’s another statistic: when customers come through affiliate channels, their average customer revenue is 58% higher than other channels. In other words, not only is it easier to get more customers via word-of-mouth, if they are referrals, but those customers also spend more. As you can see, getting into affiliate marketing is a double win for your business. But it can seem tricky to get started. The traditional way of doing affiliate marketing Online affiliate, or referral, marketing is as old as the internet. Here’s how it traditionally works: Research various affiliate networks that are accepting new merchants (that’s you). Pay a fee to join one (as high as $5000). Use this network to find affiliate partners to market your product/service. Pay out a commission to these partners. Pay out a monthly fee, and a portion of these commissions (15 to 25%) to the affiliate network. In this traditional way, you can see a clear trade-off for the benefit of joining an existing network. While you’ll have immediate access to many publishers waiting to market your product, there are a lot of fees for this privilege. So much so that for smaller businesses often find it hard to make a good profit from this model. On the other hand, you could start your own program up from scratch. But while you’d save a fortune in fees, the big trade off is your time investment. It takes time to put an affiliate marketing program in place. From creating a portal for your affiliates to use, to finding these influencers in the first place, to getting the hang of the metrics you need to monitor; it can all be a lot, especially for SMBs with a small team devoted to marketing. [subscribe] The better way, for Littledata customers Luckily, we here at Refersion have made it easy and affordable to forego joining an existing affiliate network and start your own. What we do is help businesses take a 'hybrid approach', taking the best of both worlds, making running a program cheap and simple. The best part? We’ve now integrated with Littledata to make data analysis even more insightful, so your business can easily maximize the ROI of your in-house affiliate marketing program. Used together, Littledata and Refersion are a supercharged toolbox for ecommerce entrepreneurs who have always wanted to launch a referral program, but was afraid to commit the time and energy. With Refersion, you can set up your business to start taking advantage of affiliate marketing in less than ten minutes. Connect your online shopping cart, create custom affiliate emails and coupon codes, and quickly find the right publishers to work with in the Refersion Marketplace. And if you’re already a Littledata customer, you’ll know that you can get all your affiliate marketing metrics and analysis in your dashboard and reporting. Don’t leave money on the table With the rise of ad blockers, many types of online marketing have taken big hits. But affiliate marketing isn’t subject to this limitation. Don’t ignore one of the best channels of getting new customers and higher sales! If you want to learn more about Refersion, watch this short intro video on how it all works. Ready to take the plunge? Here’s a special signup page for Littledata customers. Get a 14 day free trial today! Robert Woo is a Marketing Manager at Refersion.

2017-11-06

The end of the ecommerce 'thank you' page

For two decades the ecommerce customer journey has stayed roughly the same. Customers browse, add to cart, checkout, and then see a page confirming their purchase: the 'thank you' page. That last step is changing, and this is no small change as it threatens to break how many sites measure purchases. Ecommerce stores that stop using a final 'thank you' page without adjusting their analytics setup accordingly are in danger of getting inaccurate purchase data, or even losing track of shoppers altogether. In order to help our customers get ahead of the curve, we've gone through a number of test cases to find short and long term fixes to this issue. But first, a little history. In the old days... In the early days of ecommerce the biggest barrier during checkout was trust. Retailers paid to be certified as ‘hack-proof’ and customers wanted to make quite sure when and how their money was taken. Fast forward twenty years to today, and in the developed world most consumers have transacted online hundreds of times. They are familiar with the process, expect a seamless user experience, and confident that when they click 'buy' their payment will be taken and the products delivered. Online shoppers are so confident, in fact, that an increasing number we observe don’t even bother waiting for that ‘thank you for your order’ page. That page is becoming redundant for three reasons: Almost every checkout process captures an email address to send an order receipt to, and the email acts as a better type of confirmation: one that can be searched and referenced. Seriously, when was the last time you opted to ‘print the confirmation page’ for your records? Many retailers are forced to compete with the superb customer support offered by Amazon. This includes refunds for products that were ordered in error, and quick handling of failed payments. So from a customer's perspective there’s little point in waiting for the confirmation page when any issues will be flagged up later. Which leads to the third reason: as retailers improve the speed of checkout, the payment confirmation step is often the slowest, and so the one where customers are most likely to drop out on a slow mobile connection. This is no small issue, as mobile revenues are expected to overtake desktop revenues for ecommerce businesses globally this year. What does this mean for ecommerce sites? The issue is that for many sites the linking of sales to marketing campaigns is measured by views of that ‘thank you' page. In the marketing analysis, a ‘purchase’ is really a view of that 'thank you' page - or an event recorded on the customer’s browser with the sale. If customers don’t view the page, then no sale is recorded. If you have ever been frustrated by the lack of consistency between Google Analytics and your own payment/back-end records, this is the most likely issue. A dependency on viewing the 'thank you' page brings other problems too: a buggy script, perhaps from another marketing tag, will block the recording of sales. This is another source of the type of analytics inaccuracy which the Littledata app combats automatically. [subscribe] How to adjust your ecommerce tracking The short-term fix is to tweak the firing order of marketing tags on the 'thank you' page, so that even customers who see the page for fractions of a second will be recorded. Sites with a large number of marketing tags will have the greatest room for improvement. But in the long term, as this trend continues, the analytics solution is to link the marketing campaigns to the actual payments taken. This removes the need for the customer to see any type of 'thank you' or confirmation page, and also removes discrepancies between what your marketing platform tells you was purchased and what actually got bought. This is known as server-side tracking. The good news for those of you on the Shopify platform is that our Shopify reporting app does this already - and solves a lot of other analytics problems in one install. For those on other stores, please do contact us for advice. The Littledata team has worked with ecommerce businesses to set up integrations with Magento, DemandWare and numerous custom platforms. Not only can we help fix your analytics setup for accurate tracking, but our app then automates the audit and reporting process for all of your sites going forward.

2017-08-30

Custom reporting for marketing agencies

Are you a digital marketing agency looking for new reporting solutions? As our agency partnerships continue to grow, we thought it would be useful to outline how Littledata's custom reporting helps forward-thinking agencies cut down on reporting time, visualise data and improve performance for their clients. The marketing landscape is complex, but your reporting doesn't have to be overly complicated. With such a wide range of channels and sites to track, many agencies struggle to find the best analytics tools. To you we say: Welcome, you've finally found a solution that both simplifies and enhances the reporting process. Smarter reporting and accurate analytics Do you produce regular campaign performance reports in Excel or Google Sheets for your clients? Have you rejected other reporting solutions as being too rigid or complex for your needs? Then Littledata’s custom reports could work well for you and your clients. We automate the data fetching and calculations you currently run manually, and display the results to clients in a streamlined web app. We'll even show you the most important metrics, and report on key changes - automatically. One key advantage over tools such as Tableau, Data Studio or Chartio is that you can define a template report and then roll it out for many different web properties (or segments of websites) with the click of a button. Compared with other solutions you may have considered we also offer: Full support in data setup, report design and client onboarding Branded report packs for your clients and customers Complete life cycle data on your clients' customers, from marketing attribution to repeat purchases (including for subscription-based businesses) 1st line support to end users Flexibility to calculate any metrics (using Google Sheets in our processing pipeline) Comparison to industry benchmarks for sales, marketing and web performance - or create private benchmarks amongst your own client base Actionable insights for any online business to improve marketing ROI and increase conversions, whether one large ecommerce site or a series of micro-sites Integration of Google Analytics with Google Search Console data for powerful SEO reports [subscribe] We’re also open to discussions about white-labelling the Littledata app. This type of partnership works best for agencies with at least 20 clients ready to take advantage of our intelligent analytics tools. Please contact us if you’d like a demo, to see how this has worked for existing customers, or to discuss a particular client’s needs. Get ready to love your analytics :)

2017-08-09

How to choose between free and paid marketing channels

This is a guest post by Patrick Rauland, co-founder of the Lift Off Summit, a free virtual conference for growing ecommerce businesses. When someone starts an online store they usually look at their bank account and if they have money they go with ads. And if they don't they go with free marketing channels. And while this makes sense it isn't the best way to think about marketing and getting traction for your store. In this post, I break down the real differences between paid marketing channels and free marketing channels to help you figure out the best route to help your growing online business reach the next level of success. The Free Channels There are a lot of free channels you can use. Just to name a few there are: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Content Marketing Facebook pages Twitter Instagram Pinterest Video marketing (YouTube) And all of these can drive traffic to your store. But you have to start building an audience on these channels first and figure that out before you start driving serious traffic to your store. This can be especially hard on some platforms like Facebook that suppress organic page posts and instead display ads. Another problem is that these strategies usually take a lot of time. One of the most effective channels for my personal blog is SEO. But it took years to get enough organic traffic. [subscribe] The Paid Channels There are just as many--if not more--paid channels. Here are a few: Facebook Ads Instagram Ads Twitter Ads Pinterest Ads Google AdWords Affiliate Marketing Influencer Marketing What all of these have in common is that they can help you speed up the growth of your brand & store. Speed Up Growth Building something from scratch is hard. It's hard and it's slow. Even if you have a compelling message you might only get that message in front of a few new people each day. And only a fraction of those are ready to buy your product today. Ads let you target the perfect audience. Facebook especially has robust targeting let you target interest, ages, genders, and locations. And you can target users at any point along the customer journey. Whether they've seen your site, visited a specific page, joined the newsletter, or added something to the cart. When you can target the perfect audience you're much more likely to make the sale. If you need 100 visitors to your website to make a sale. You might only need 50, 25, or maybe if you're really good just 5 visitors to make a sale with ads. With ads you don't just pay for leads. You pay for hot leads. What About Costs? The cost of running ads can actually be quite low. I interviewed Facebook marketing expert Megan Adams for Lift Off Summit, she made a really good point about starting small and testing the results: “In the beginning…start with $5 a day and see where that takes you. Or $100 a campaign.” Amber Turril, Chief Funnel Operations Strategist at White Coat Digital said: “You can start a $5/day campaign on Facebook and see where that goes. Or $10/day on Adwords.” For $5 a day. That's $125 a month. A very reasonable amount. Even if every single click-through fails you still learn something. You can tell which ads had the most compelling message based on their click through rates. You can try different copy & different images to learn what call to actions are the best for your audience. And then apply that to your eCommerce site improving the conversion rate site-wide. Break Even First All of the platforms can show you the ROI on each of the ads. And with your first ad you're likely to have a negative ROI - meaning you lost money on that ad. And that's okay. You're going to have ads that under perform. It may take you a few weeks or maybe a month to get to the break even stage. And breaking even is the goal for someone just getting into ads. Turrill continued: “Will that one dollar turn into two dollars? It will. But first go for break even. And then go for that positive return on investment.” Paying on the Backend I've mostly been talking about ads so far - partly because they're what everyone thinks of when they think of paid marketing channels. But also because they amplify what you're already doing. There is another strategy though. You can leverage someone else's audience entirely and after each sale you can pay a commission. That means there are no upfront costs. I'm talking about affiliate marketing & influencer marketing. If you have a product that people are willing to promote (and if you don't you should evaluate what you're selling) then reach out to influencers in your space. Who is in your industry that knows your potential customers. They should know their wants, needs, and desires. And they should already have an audience. If they understand your industry and they have an audience give them an affiliate code. And you can give them a commission on any sales made with their affiliate code. I interviewed eCommerce entrepreneur Pippin Williamson for Lift Off Summit and he said: "At it's core it's really other people saying good things about you." And I think that's why this channel works so well. It's a natural extension of word of mouth. The Three Ways to Grow In eCommerce there are three ways to grow: Get more customers Get your customers to purchase more (higher average order value) Get your customers to purchase more often And when you're a brand new store it's basically just one: get more customers. That's why I'm such a big fan of the paid channels. They obviously have a cost to run. And you should always work on organic methods like SEO & content marketing. But while you're gearing those up start playing with ads. You'll usually see immediate results and can continue to grow & tweak. Patrick Rauland is a public speaker, author, and blogger. He creates eCommerce content for LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com. He loves helping people start their own businesses and take control of their own financial future.

2017-06-20

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