Increasing digitalization is one of the biggest challenges in the retail sector and therefore also one of the topics that are changing the paper, office supplies and stationery trade. In this interview, Falk Westerholt, Managing Director of Westerholt – Papier * Büro * Bastelmarkt in Münster-Hiltrup, talks about his experiences.
Digitalization is a daily topic especially in marketing circles, but in reality it is creating surprisingly little turbulence. For example, the same candidates remain at the top of the ranking of the most important online marketing channels. The trending topic of content marketing is taking shape. Continue reading
Successful online marketing is subject to numerous principles, of which the first is “never annoy the user!”. Especially when using retargeting, caution and finesse are required. Always avoid the following errors:
1. Too often
If advertising banners are displayed too often, then retargeting can seem intrusive. Adjust the display frequency to up to 2 times per day using “frequency capping”.
Advertising is most effective if it is aligned with the different, sequential phases of the purchase process. This applies equally to B2C and B2B transactions, whereby the individual phases may vary depending on the target group.
Taking into account the phases of decision-making is important, for example, when it comes to understanding why conversion is lacking despite high traffic via search engine marketing. In addition to many other factors, the reason may be that the visitors gained in this way are not yet intending to purchase. Those who enter a non-specific term such as “tablecloths” could very well still be in phases 1 or 2 (see below), whereas specification of a product name and specific details could indicate a more advanced phase.
Retargeting has become one of the most effective online advertising tools. It consists of delayed, cross platform advertising for users who visit a web site and then leave again.
Retargeting targets potential customers, who have already been in contact with the provider. This usually comprises visitors to a site (site retargeting), but can also include other target groups such as Facebook fans or those who have viewed a promotional video for example. The contact is considered a signal that the viewer is generally interested in the product or offer.
Obviously the vision of a purely mobile “always and everywhere” shopping experience has not yet hit home with users. Once customers have used their smartphone to find a product that they would like to buy, 88 percent of them then switch to a desktop environment and complete the purchase there. This rate of switching is similar for tablet users at 82 percent. These are the results of research conducted in the US by Yahoo and Kenshoo.
It also determined that mobile devices are primarily used at home. 84 percent of smartphone owners and 92 percent of tablet users use their mobile devices to conveniently search for products and services and compare prices on the couch at home. They then switch to their desktop PCs for binding business transactions like purchases.
The mood among German B2B companies is very good on the whole. Almost 60 percent have a positive view of current sales according to the B2B e-commerce economic index study conducted by IntelliShop AG together with IFH Institut für Handelsforschung (trade research institute) at the end of 2013. Satisfaction is especially pronounced with regard to e-commerce sales. The surveyed executives, managing directors and decision makers predict a higher growth in B2B online sales than in overall sales in the next 12 months.
This matches the results of the study “Online and Mobile are Transforming B2B Commerce” conducted by Forrester Consulting, according to which the B2B sector is in a major transition with regard to customer acquisition and retention. For example, 559 billion US dollars in B2B e-commerce transactions are already being achieved annually in the US, which is more than twice the amount achieved in the B2C sector.
The vast majority of users leave websites despite an interest in buying. In many shops, this accounts for 99 percent of visitors. In most cases, the product is then bought from another retailer.
Reasons include better pricing, shipping terms and payment options as well as emotional factors including better descriptive text, a customer-friendly appearance, a more likeable design, more detailed pictures, the integration of social media recommendations and simpler purchase navigation.
Every little improvement to the conversion rate has a direct effect on sales and therefore it is always worthwhile to take a look at the multitude of possible adjustments. Seemingly unimportant details are often the deciding factors as to whether site visitors click on a link, read a text or immediately leave the homepage again. Analysing the conversion path with Google Analytics is a good initial step toward defining such factors and detecting where precisely visitors leave the site. Once a goal (e.g. a sale or newsletter registration) has been entered in Google Analytics, the respective analysis views can be used to precisely observe where visitors come from, which order paths they take and at which point they leave the site. After all, not only the landing page and shopping cart are relevant, but the pages in between as well. Even a form that requires entry of too much unimportant information such as city district can result in users losing patience and leaving the site.
No other industry can compete with the sales growth rates in the (German) e-commerce sector. In 2013 alone, the online sales volume in Germany grew by 41.7 percent to 39.1 billion euro as compared to the previous year according to BVH (German Mail Order Association). 81 percent of German mail order companies are already living from online business, whereas conventional orders by mail, fax or email continue to lose traction. The biggest driver of growth is the mobile internet. Every tenth euro earned is already generated via smart phones and tablets. This accounted for a total of 4.9 billion euro in 2013. “An increasing number of customers are’always on’ and are making their purchases at all times and places using their mobile devices”, says BVH President Thomas Lipke of the industry results.
None of the 1,000 online shops with the best sales in Germany are achieving their full potential with regard to customer acquisition and conversion. According to online marketing consultant Andreas Graap from Angron.de, almost all of these online shops are making at least one of three big mistakes:
- Users are divided into buyers and non-buyers. Either they should buy something or they shouldn’t be browsing the website. Few shops cater to “not-yet buyers” and try to win over non-buyers by first gaining their interest and then gaining them as a customer in the next step. This can be done for example by publishing interesting newsletters, which inform non-buyers, gain their interest and gradually guide them towards purchasing products. But such offerings are usually only offered passively and are not very attractive.
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