Monday, October 31, 2016

Here’s 5 Smart Ways to Plan Your E-commerce Sales Promotion

Ready for your next sales promotion?

For some ecommerce teams, it’s a time-consuming task deciding which items to markdown and how to publicize a sales event. However, sales promotions play an integral role in attracting customers.

A survey found that up to 50% of consumers make a purchase only with a promotion. Shoppers desire a good deal before they invest in your products. Moreover, your business may want the additional revenue.

“Sales promotions can give you the edge you’re looking for when it comes to revenue. Successful companies know that sales promotions are among the most effective methods of increasing sales and building customer satisfaction,” writes Emily Weisberg, content marketing manager at ThriveHive.

Take a strategic approach when planning your sales promotions. Below are five smart ways to help your team.

1. Select Specific Incentives

Sales promotions take various shapes and forms. Cater your incentives to fit your consumers’ needs.

Start by using customer analytics. Historical purchasing habits can uncover what promotions performed well. Social media comments also provide first-hand details on whether customers possess interest.

Next, match your findings with a sales initiative. From mystery discounts to purchased-based donations to bundle sales, several options exist.

Monetate “found that 56% of businesses agree that flash-sale campaigns are better received than regular campaigns.” Limiting the timeframe creates urgency for the customer to act now.

12-hour-flash-sale-ad(Image Source)

Thinking about free offers? PaySimple’s Vice President of Knowledge Lisa Hephner explains the power of free incentives:

“Everyone loves free. Whether it’s free gifts, free refills, or free service segments, free sells. One of the most powerful free offers is free shipping for online orders, as evidenced by multiple studies where respondents highlight it as the most important factor in making a purchase decision.”

Figure out the best promotions for your customers. Review your data before moving forward.

2. Cross-Sell With a Purpose

Every sales promotions doesn’t need to involve discounting your signature product. Instead, it can focus on secondary items.

Cross-selling is another opportunity to provide value to your customers. Buyers love convenience, and they want to save time shopping at one place. And it eliminates the hassle of sifting through multiple ecommerce sites.

Align your promotions with products that complement one another. Give consumers the chance to buy everything they need from your store.

“Savvy marketers use this concept to increase sales by informing consumers how one product complements another. Cross selling can take several forms. Understanding your customers’ motivations helps you choose which approach to take,” says Sara Huter, a contributor at BusinessBee.

For example, if your company sells cell phones, your team can offer a promotion on the accessories, like bluetooth earbuds, phone cases, or charging cables.

buy-cow-buy-haystack(Image Source)

Research found that “cross-selling was shown to be much more effective when presented on the checkout pages versus the product pages.” So, add images of promotional products in the sidebar menu.


Plus, cross-selling aids with bringing in more cash flow for your business. Amazon credits up to 35% of its revenue to cross-selling.

Think differently about ecommerce sales promotions. Don’t remove cross-selling from your list of possibilities.

3. Microtarget Your Customers

Microtargeting isn’t a new technique to your team. Nevertheless, you may be failing to put it into practice.

Segmenting your audience lets your business offer the right promotions to the right individuals. Customization speaks directly to consumers—signaling that you know exactly what they need.

Melissa Jenkins of Mel Jens Designs believes “running a successful promotion is all about finding that delicate balance between audience segmentation, great timing and setting the perfect price or placing the perfect offer.”

Examine your data to segment properly. Try geographical locations, buying habits, income levels, or even past purchasing behavior.

Dealers United Auto Group created mock ads targeted for car shoppers within 25 miles of the dealership that possess an interest in pets. Specificity is vital for effective micro targeting.

dealers-auto-group-micro-targeting(Image Source)

A study reveals that 51% of marketers believe sharing data across their organizations is a major issue. Avoid data limitations that will hinder segmentation for your sales promotions.

Create an open dialogue across departments to gather all data about your customers. You’ll have more knowledge to build an accurate buyer persona.

Pinpoint who needs to know about your sales event. Microtargeting is a benefit to your company.

4. Hype Up Engagement

Draw attention to your sales promotions with social media and email campaigns. This extra engagement will get people interested in your sales incentives.

Facebook users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on its multiple platforms. Work with your team to promote sales on your social pages. Or even enlist the help of industry influencers to spread the word.

User-generated content (UGC) is also another way to lure shoppers toward your brand. Actual consumers enjoying your products authenticates your value to hesitate buyers.

“User-generated photos are a great way to generate social proof. Prospective customers see that your products are regularly being purchased people just like them, and feel more comfortable doing something that others are doing,” says Dan Wang, a content specialist at Shopify.

Big box retailer Target retweeted a post from loyal shoppers who made a funny video in one of its stores. Encourage customers to submit UGC of them unboxing your products.


Also, keep your email subscribers in the loop about promotions. Craft engaging emails that explain the benefits, provide social proof, and use a distinct call-to-action.

“When it comes to creating a high-converting marketing offer email, the final piece of the puzzle is using a prominent call to action button. This is important because buttons make it clear to the reader what the next step is and encourage them to click-through,” states Aaron Beashel, director of demand generation at Campaign Monitor.

Shout your sales promotions from the rooftop. Get shoppers excited to participate.

5. Move Toward Customer Loyalty

Returning customers spend on average 67% more than first-time customers. Consider promotions as a pathway to retaining customers.

Give your customers an opportunity to discover your brand’s values and culture. Sign up shoppers for your weekly newsletter, or enroll them in your rewards program.

Customer loyalty centers around building worthwhile relationships. However, buyers may only be interested in your promotions.

“The use of sales promotions can be positively utilised in order to encourage brand loyalty and brand switching by companies. However, academic research suggests that consumers can become loyal to sales promotions rather than a brand,” states Zhorna Ali, a sales and marketing assistant at M3.

To avoid consumers from brand switching, companies must thoroughly personalize their sales promotions strategy. Focus on specific product categories to remain competitive within the market.

Rather than giving sales incentives to everyone, Bare Escentuals limits its promotions to its loyal fans called Beauty Insiders. In the example below, customers received three free items with any order.

trio-makeup-ad(Image Source)

Create plans to engage customers beyond your sales promotions. Earn their loyalty.

Prep for Sales Promotions

Planning for your next sales event involves lots of time and decision-making. You want to boost your revenue and satisfy customers.

Choose buyer-specific incentives that will attract people. Cross-sell products that complement one another. And think beyond the promotion by focusing on customer loyalty initiatives.

Upgrade your sales promotion. Prepare for it today.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

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Essential design trends, November 2016

It’s time to break out of your (design) shell and try something bold. Larger-than-life bold techniques are the big theme this month as we look at three trends that incorporate items that make users look at the design.

Here’s what’s trending in design this month:

1. The color purple

Purple color palettes are traditionally somewhat rare. The color can be difficult to use in some situations and has such a range of emotional associations that many designers avoid it. Purple is not a common color option for brands either and might often be in conflict with the rest of the color palette.

But that’s not stopping designers anymore. Bold, purple color palettes are popping up everywhere, and they are pretty impressive.

Many of these design have a few commonalities that make purple a little easier to work with:

  • Monotone color schemes
  • Simple design patterns without a lot of competing elements
  • Minimal use of photography
  • Space themes (always a popular option with purple)
  • Use of darker purple hues (rather than pastels)

Because purple is such a striking color, particularly the dark, deep purples that many designers are using, a simple framework is an ideal option. Minimalistic styles or typography heavy designs can benefit from such a powerful color.

When choosing a purple to work with, a darker hue can be the best option. It will work well with light typography and it won’t have so much of a feminine association. The trendy route is to pick a bright purple that matches some of the regal tones from the material design palettes.

2. Giant buttons

A button can be the most important element in any design. Buttons do everything from take users to the next page, help complete a step in a path of actions, or submit information in a form. A button is the end goal of a call to action and completes a feedback loop between the user and the interface design.

While button design has evolved some in recent years, there haven’t been many trends as big as this one: Designers are incorporating giant buttons into designs. (This is almost the exact opposite of the last button trend, ghost buttons.) Giant buttons are a fun alternative for users, but there is a trick to it. Users have to know the buttons are buttons. They can’t hide as a different type of design element.

In each of the three examples below, clever hover animations are the secret to button identification. Each design takes a unique approach:

  • Bark Design: Large images display a headline and subhead as the user hovers indicating the potential for a click action.
  • Mt. Cuba Center: The plant identification site uses hover actions so that buttons almost jump off the screen with color and by changing size. The animations are hard to miss and the imagery is so engaging that you want to click. (Almost every image is a link to more information.) There are two types of buttons in the design: Images that have a card-style look at the giant round purple button, shown below. What’s especially nice about the round button is that it looks like a button, but because it is so big you second guess it, but the hover state reveals the click option. That’s a fun element for users.
  • Simon Foster: This portfolio site is interesting because elements that would not normally be used as buttons are just that. Each portfolio element is a button to more about the project. The simple black and white design comes to life with full color hover states that encourage users to click into each portfolio item.

3. Geometric shapes

There are a number of ways to incorporate geometric shapes into a design project. You might use shapes as navigational elements, for buttons or background patterns. Cool geometry can also make an interesting overall aesthetic.

The use of hard-edged and straight-line geometric shapes takes some of the softness out of a design and gives it a more impactful feel. Sean Klassen juxtaposes soft and hard imagery in his portfolio website, below, by using flowers and complementary geometric shapes in the same dominant visual. All that really ties the elements together is color, but somehow the soft, curved lines of the roses and hard angles of the triangles work together.

Combining geometric shapes can also be a way to create a little something out of nothing when you are designing a website that really lacks visual information, such as The Graphic Design Conference, below. Shapes and bold color options can work together in a way that reminiscent of childhood. This subtle connotation can make a user feel fondly about a design.

Finally, converting a common element into a combination of geometric shapes can create a more interesting visual. The mouse, for example, from, below, would not be nearly as intriguing if it were a stock art version of a white mouse. That’s an image that users have seen, but the geometric version is different and the animated effect with the moving shapes around it adds to that visual interest.


Do these bold design decisions appeal to you? Each of the trends this month are interesting on their own because they take common elements and super-size them. Bold color, giant buttons and fun geometry are all usable techniques, even if you don’t design an entire project around any one technique.

What trends are you loving (or hating) right now? I’d love to see some of the websites that you are fascinated with. Drop me a link on Twitter; I’d love to hear from you.

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5 a/b tests to try in game apps

We talk a lot about a/b testing here on MarketingExperiments. What we don’t usually talk about is a/b testing for the mobile web…especially testing within mobile apps.

I thought we should change that. As I was scouring the web looking for mobile a/b tests, I found this 2-year old video by Amazon.

Apparently, Amazon Web Services (AWS) at one point had an a/b testing feature that is now closed
When they had testing, however, one app developer used it extensively and shared their experiences in a promotional video for the feature on Amazon. The developers were behind the game Air Patriots. Russell Caroll was the Senior Producer for the game and Julio Gorge was the Game Development Engineer. The game is a kind of aerial take on the classic tower defense game genre.

air patriots screenshot

Air Patriots

Now granted, this was a promotional video, but the content still speaks for itself. These guys had (and still have by the looks of it) a fairly successful mobile app and they ran some successful tests. It’s a great starting place for what you can test in your mobile app.

By the way, while Amazon has shut down its a/b testing feature, there are a lot of other tools for testing mobile apps that will accomplish the same thing the developers talk about in the video.

Test #1: What is the impact of ads on customer experience? (1:34)

The first thing the team tested was the impact of ads are on their customers. They wanted to make sure the ads did not harm the customer experience. So they tested a single ad in the main menu near the bottom of the screen.

air patriots menu ad

They found that the ads didn’t affect customer retention. This meant that they could insert ads and generate more revenue without hurting their customers.

Test #2: Will in-game ad placement affect customer retention? (2:56)

In the second test, the team put ads in the game screen.

air patriots in-game ad

In both the first and second tests, the ads had a little “X” that the customers could tap to hypothetically dismiss the ads. When they tapped, a pop up came up that told customers they could eliminate ads with any purchase in the game’s store.

In this test, there was again, no impact on customer retention, but there was a statistically significant increase in revenue.

Test #3: Simple game-circle icon test (4:20)

In this test, the team wanted to know whether an icon to the game-circle (Amazon’s game stats and leaderboards portal) would improve performance.

air patriots game-circle

It’s not clear which icon won, or even why this particular test was useful for the team, but they did get a favorable result, and the lesson they wanted to drive home was that simple changes like icons can make a difference. We’ve, of course found that to be the case in a large number of our tests on MarketingExperiments.

Test #4: Does game difficulty affect revenue? (4:58)

In this 4th test, Caroll made a mistake. He accidentally changed the game difficulty to make it about 10% harder. As a result, every metric that was important to them tanked.

air patriots metrics

The team of course fixed it as fast as possible, but it gave them an idea.

What would happen to revenue if they made the game easier?

So they ran a test that had 5 treatments: The control and then 4 difficulty levels that were easier than the control.

It turned out that the easiest difficulty performed the best. By making it easier, they players playing 20% longer and revenue went up 20%.

Test #5: When is the best time to have push-notifications for re-engagement in inactive players? (7:43)

The team then tested a push-notification that offered inactive players and incentive for picking the game back up.

air patriots push

They wanted to know when the best time to send the notification would be. So they tested a few different variables and found that the best time was 3 days after the last game play.

They also found that sending the notification 7 days after the last game play negatively impacted their performance metrics.

With these 5 tests and probably a few more that have been happening off the record, the team was able to develop a great app for their customers and steadily increase their revenue. At the end of the video Carol gives a few key takeaways for marketers who are a/b testing their apps.

You might also like:

Email Research Chart: Email opens trends on mobile devices in 2015

Mobile Marketing Chart: Amount of revenue from the mobile channel, by merchant type

3 A/B Testing Case Studies from Smart Brand-Side Marketers

from MarketingExperiments Blog: Research-driven optimization, testing, and marketing ideas

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Popular design news of the week: October 24, 2016 – October 30, 2016

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

The Designers Guide to Git


10 Helpful Tools for Web Developers


10 Problems your Content Management System will not Solve and How to Overcome Them


What is Design Thinking and Why is it so Popular?


Design by Committee Ruins Famous Artwork


8 Things Every Creative Should Know


People are Freaking Out Over the New Macbooks’ Missing Escape Key


Presentation Design Inspiration


10 Tips to Teach Yourself Design & Boost your Design Skills


Design Freebies Websites


Indie Hackers – Learn How Developers are Writing their own Paychecks


The Power of Typography in Web Design


Why Friday’s Massive DDoS Attack Should Be Terrifying


Designers, We Need to Talk About Development Gets a New Site Design


I Am Done Starting Startups


How to Make Color Overlays Work in your Design


Improving Perceived Performance with Multiple Background Images


You’ll Never Be a Design Specialist by Generalizing your Skills


How to Lift your UX Out of the Ordinary with Micro-Interactions


In Search of the Ultimate User Experience


Origami Studio by Facebook


How to Use CSS Shapes in your Web Design


When Illustrations Matter to the Design Process


Why is Creativity so Difficult?


Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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