How to drive your brand’s online sales

As big brands lock horns to attract new customers with jaw-dropping prices in the sales, it’s easy for some to get left behind.

shopping

The good news is that people are spending. Independent retailers saw high street revenues increase by more than one-third on New Year’s Day, making it more important than ever for online brands to drive sales at this busy time.

From solving shopping abandonment and creating wide-reaching campaigns to mobile retargeting and message commerce, there are plenty of tools in the marketing armoury that can be leveraged not just for consumers, but across campaigns.

Tackling shopping basket abandonment

2016 will be the year of “delivery wars” for retailers, according to Marketing Week’s predictions. This will be the year when consumers start to see convenient delivery options as the most important factor in choosing where to buy – starting now as they browse the virtual sales rails.

With online brands now clamouring to offer same-day delivery services, marketers are showing how important it is to quickly grasp their audience, and keep them on the page, so they don’t abandon their virtual shopping basket.

Brands may not realise it, but shopping basket abandonment is a serious issue globally – figures from research agency the Baymard Institute suggest that around 70 percent of all e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned, equating to more than $4 trillion of product left behind each year.

But there are ways to help solve shopping basket abandonment. As well as free shipping, streamlining the check-in process and adding save for later features, there are tools worth investing in to help build successful e-commerce capabilities.

For example, brands can segment  audience, track the movements and behaviour of the highest intent shoppers, then remind them of products and any offers when the time comes for customers to make a purchase.

By knocking shopping basket abandonment on the head early, marketers can concentrate on executing their branding strategy.

Wide-reaching campaigns that don’t miss a thing

Ad impressions get pretty competitive during the sales period, which means the cost of a bad impression goes up dramatically. To cap things off, make sure all audience segments are set up correctly so the right people are being engaged with the right messaging:

Comparison shoppers: set up unique segments for visitors who browsed specific products or pages. Visitors who land on an accessories page, for example, can be served with personalised ads for jewellery they browsed.

Converted users: set up loyalty campaigns to retarget past customers – particularly ones who showed your brand some love at Christmas.

New prospects: build brand awareness by re-engaging customers who have only briefly interacted with your site, such as by landing on your homepage.

Harnessing the power of mobile to take you cross-device With mobile internet advertising set to overtake newspapers as the third largest advertising medium in 2016, according to Zenith Optimedia, now is the time to grasp hold of this channel. But keeping track of mobile customers as they hop about devices frantically trying to net a bargain during the busiest sales periods is a big challenge, especially when trying to convert shoppers who started out browsing on their phones, but have completed on another device – and potentially another site.

So how do brands keep hold of shoppers across this fragmented device journey? The answer is to implement a highly targeted cross-device strategy. By understanding a customer’s movements as they switch across devices, it becomes possible to retarget them on mobile.

Cross-device retargeting helps drive incremental conversions on mobile web and re-engages your desktop audiences across channels.  Data from AdRoll’s own platform shows that when mobile has been added to Facebook campaigns, advertisers have seen up to a 60% increase in the number of times an ad has been viewed and a 64% increase in the click-through rate of that ad.

A well-honed cross-device strategy can also help you drive app downloads and use your app as another opportunity to drive engagement and sales. Apps are certainly not to be underestimated, especially when considering Gartner’s prediction that there will be 268 billion app downloads annually by 2017 – with the number of in-app purchases overtaking paid download sales.

Well-targeted ads that let consumers install the app with a single click promote app discovery, drive adoption and increase in-app sales. App install ads can then be targeted to people who have visited your brand’s desktop site when they are browsing Facebook and Twitter on their mobile.

Embracing message commerce

In 2016, it’s been predicted that it will become much more common for people to use messaging platforms not just for customer service enquiries, but also to manage bookings and make purchases.

With mobile messaging apps about to transform the way consumers interact with brands, why not get ahead of the game and experiment with this approach now, taking advantage of a captive, bargain-hunting audience?

The practice of carrying out transactions through messaging apps is already commonplace in China and Nescafé is already pioneering its own e-commerce offering, with Snapchat and Periscope firmly in its sights.

The main questions for brands when taking this concept beyond snapping up customers in the January sales period will be to consider how much resource to divert into messaging as a long-term e-commerce platform, and how to sustain this.

But with Facebook having already announced partnerships between its Messenger app and US retailers Everlane and Zulily last year, clearly the time to start investigating and experimenting is now before competitors get there first.

Marius Smyth is the managing director EMEA at AdRoll