Property technology, or PropTech, refers to the use of information technology (IT) to help individuals and companies research, buy, sell and manage real estate.
Typically, the participants in the real estate industry are brokers, agents, developers, buyers, sellers, landlords, and lenders. This technology-based sector allows them to be more efficient by automating manual tasks such as managing inventory and communicating with clients.
The real estate sector encompasses a wide range of processes and transactions, ranging from how real estate is planned and designed to how it is bought and sold. The Proptech sector consists of start-ups and innovative products across the commercial and residential real estate markets.
The convergence of technologies, cloud, and digital transformation are forces driving the rapid growth of PropTech.
PropTech aims to minimize the cost and resources associated with real estate transactions, maximize efficiency, save time, and personalize property management.
Digital Innovation is Transforming the Property Sector
Real estate is a highly specialized industry, so these agencies require considerable flexibility when considering a digital solution.
If a solution matches their often highly customized requirements, then it will be able to support their prospect’s pipeline — which is a combination of marketing, in-person meetings, property showings, and property closings — as well as the customer journey in real estate.
The property industry is undergoing a shift from traditional to digital services, as a result of the rapid rise of online and virtual services.
Customers are increasingly being exposed to new technologies, which have affected the way they communicate with sales and lettings agents and property businesses.
To remain competitive in this rapidly changing market, businesses need to implement a customer experience strategy that will best meet the needs of their particular audience.
To learn how property industry players can leverage PropTech to create memorable customer and employee experiences, keep reading!
We’ll also share some use cases to show how a total experience platform can turn ordinary property interactions into extraordinary ones.
Customer Experience Still Evades Many Real Estate Agencies
A statistic that is widely quoted in the industry is that 1 in 3 customers will walk away from your brand after just one negative experience.
Multiple studies echo this, always with the same message that it’s cut-throat: that your business needs to act fast to retain them. The numbers are not exaggerated, but rather represent a normal part of everyday life, and most businesses miss these small details.
Not responding to a phone call or email quickly enough is an example of a small detail that can have major consequences.
If you don’t respond well to these kind of details, customers will leave your business in favour of another company that provides better service.
According to recent studies, 86% of consumers will not remain loyal to a company after a negative experience; and if they do stay, it is likely because they are unable to find what they need elsewhere in which case you got lucky.
In a highly competitive market, providing a great customer experience will help build loyalty, nurture repeat business, and create brand advocates. Agents and employees need tools to stay productive and collaborate effectively online from wherever they are.
4 Customer and Employee Experience Strategies to Boost Business
Here are some examples of how you can harness Customer Experience (CX) and Employee Experience (EX) in your business to create a competitive advantage.
Great customer service can differentiate real estate products and services from competitors, while time-saving tools and hacks for employees can turbocharge their productivity and keep them from burning out.
How Communication Builds Trust between a Tenant and an Agent
Georg and Berta, who are relocating from Germany to Hong Kong for an expatriate posting, browse your property agency website and shortlist a few rental apartments.
Wanting to know more, Berta clicks on the smart widget on your website and watches a branded video featuring an agent while being connected with him directly.
The call routing system detected the customer’s browser language and routed them to an agent who speaks German. The customer is delighted to be talking to someone in their native language.
Your agent then suggests they switch to a video call for a more interactive conversation, taking just one click to seamlessly make that change while still on the same call.
By chance, your agent is currently showing a property in the Mid-Levels area with rents of around HKD 40,000 a month. Using the mobile app, she checks Georg and Berta’s browsing history and sees they are coincidentally looking at the Mid-Levels area with rents of the same price range.
Qualifying the lead further, she gets their expected move-in date which helps to narrow down the listings more.
While a real estate agency website can contain virtual reality walkthroughs and videos, nothing beats a personal live video tour from the agent. Sensing the prospect’s eagerness, she conducts an impromptu walkthrough and adds her commentary on the apartment’s condition.
Discover new ways to market a property and generate interest
Keanu, who lives in New Zealand, saw an advertisement for your company’s new beach resort in Hajodae, South Korea. To promote the launch of the property, your firm took out a full-page advertisement in his local newspaper with a QR code.
Wanting to know more, he instantly connected via web call to an English-speaking property agent in South Korea.
The property is still in the pre-launch stage, so the only way to get a sense of the completed unit is to visit a show flat. Your agent switches easily to a video call, slowly panning his phone to show Keanu what he can expect from the resort property once it has been completed.
Currently, you only have a basic landing page for visitors to register their interest. However, your property agent screen shares from the video call and plays him a promotional video of the property.
As Keanu is an enthusiastic surfer, he inquired about the facilities. Your agent provides you with a link to a VR walkthrough of the resort.
Your property agent mentions that the firm has a tie-up with a financial institution that can offer loans denominated in South Korean Won, and Keanu seems excited by the possibility of such financing.
As he discusses his plans for the property, your agent invites the expert to the ongoing call.
Transform the way of closing a new residential lease
Taiwan real estate agent Annya has just ended a virtual tour of four apartments with a couple from France, who are now considering the properties. Although she feels they are good prospects, she knows that they may change their minds at any time, or another agent they’ve contacted might win the deal.
Annya received a message on her phone. The couple had used the web link on the agency’s website to send a message; they liked the last viewed apartment in Taipei and wanted to offer a two-year lease at TW$80,000 per month. Thrilled by this news, she called the landlord through the smart app, and he happily agreed.
Annya prepares a provisional tenancy agreement and attaches it to a live chat session with the French couple.
She reminds them to wire the initial deposit to the landlord once they have digitally signed the contract. Receiving signed copies of both the contract and a screenshot of the telegraphic transfer, she calls the tenants.
She walks the tenants through the landlord’s leasing process during a video call. The landlord’s solicitors will prepare a draft tenancy agreement for them to review. In the meantime, Annya suggests that she recommend a lawyer who can represent them. They agree, and she invites the lawyer to join the conference call.
Increased communication and collaboration by overseeing commercial tenants
As the property manager of a large-scale commercial complex consisting of a shopping mall and offices above it, Shoba is responsible for hundreds of retail and office tenants. A member of a dedicated team of accountants, technicians, and procurement and contracts specialists working in the onsite management office, she leads her team in providing an exceptional level of service to all clients.
The use of a lightweight CRM offers tenants a chat room environment, centralizing every interaction and communication.
Through the use of interaction history, she is able to chart the correspondence over time, enabling to resolve issues quickly.
In addition, Shoba uses CINNOX as a cloud communications tool, enabling her to manage chats, calls, video calls, and emails from one place, thereby avoiding the cost of installing a more complicated PABX system!
When a new tenant moves into an apartment community, he or she is given a laminated card with QR codes printed on it.
When scanned, the codes direct callers to the appropriate team for help with payments and statements—saving tenants time from searching for a number. The same teams are also shared via web links in an email, giving tenants an option to chat instead.
CINNOX helps teams collaborate. For example, if a new tenant wants to move in after hours, Shoba can create a chatroom to notify operations about the loading bay, advise facilities to keep the lights on, inform security about the removalists, and add the external moving company as a contact so everyone is kept updated.
An Experience-Driven Approach To PropTech
From the examples above, it’s clear when you address your immediate CX and EX needs with a total experience platform. You are also laying the groundwork for future success.
By putting all your interaction data in one place, you are creating a treasure trove of data that can be analyzed with powerful machine learning and AI tools to discover valuable insights in the future.
PropTech is a new industry that combines property with technology, allowing developers, landlords, property agents, and property managers to leverage technology to keep in step with digital-savvy customers.
When choosing the right partner to develop your customer experience, look for a business that puts the customer (your customer) first and foremost, and who demonstrates that they too take that approach from their business.
Consumers no longer see shopping as a mere transaction; it’s about providing an entertaining and engaging experience.
When you don’t win a customer’s trust, they go to a competitor or change their mind about making a purchase altogether.
What can you do to provide a great customer experience that generates loyal customers and maximizes revenue?
Humanizing the customer experience is one way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Instead of offering discounts that hurt sales, engage with customers, and provide a personalized experience to increase customer loyalty and drive repeat purchases.
While most e-commerce storesoffer self-service options such as knowledge bases, FAQs, and perhaps an automated chatbot, many consumers prefer to speak with a real human being. For businesses, live chat is a low-cost alternative to expensive phone calls.
Here are five ways to use live chat to make your online shopping experience more personal.
Be sure to make a good impression on your online visitors
Visitors’ first impressions of your e-commerce store are determined by many of its elements, including design, user experience, and product offerings. Others include how easy it is to get customer support and service when they need it, and the channels available.
Customize the look and feel of your live chat widget
Enable a friendly Smart Greeting that welcomes your visitor
Design your widget icon and chat box in a way that matches your brand image
Even better, embed an in-call video or image to introduce your brand
Localize your live chat; enable Smart Routing on your widget to automatically assign visitors to the most suitable staff based on device language or geographical location
Give your customers the option to contact you at any time
Live chat support is a fast, efficient way to help customers.
Customers don’t have to wait for an email response or pay long-distance phone charges to get help; they can just chat with you directly!
You can also set up offline contact forms so that people can leave their contact details for immediate follow-up when staff are online.
Enable web calls from the live chat widget for consumers who prefer to speak with a staff rather than type in a message
Visitors can also access a directory of staff members to find the best person to answer their questions, such as exchanges & returns, shipping, or payments
Create an emotional bond with shoppers
Inspire consumer trust by showing the human side of your staff. Live chat allows customers to interact with real people, rather than automated messages, bringing e-commerce one step closer to humanizing the customer experience.
For example, if your staff are into running, they can share their recommendations on running gear. Providing instant replies to customer inquiries can make customers feel valuable and important in addition to reducing customer churn by keeping your best customers and encouraging repeat sales.
Having a live chat widget that allows you to seamlessly switch between chat, video calls, and voice calls inside the same app is a winning feature that can help you stand out from the competition
When you add value to a conversation, you make it more meaningful
As your customers progress through their purchase journey, you should be creating and sharing content to keep them engaged. The best way to do this is by creating content that is timely and relevant to the conversation your brand is having with its audience.
This could be a new product offering, promotion, or even a social media post showcasing your brand personality.
Add a web link to push visitors directly into a live chat session, or a web call with a staff who previously helped them
A great way to keep offline interactions going is with QR codes. Stick these on the backs of your products so that customers can easily access help if they need it
Print QR codes on your marketing materials so that leads can be generated from printed posters, leaflets, and brochures in addition to your e-commerce website
Personalize the chat as often as you can
Customers expect to be treated as individuals, so try to tailor your responses based on the information you have about them. Great customer service means using the customer’s name in the conversation, whenever possible and appropriate.
This helps the customer feel like they’re speaking with a human person behind the brand rather than an automated bot.
Personalize conversations by asking for additional information through pre-chat forms
Get the most out of your e-commerce customer experience
When e-commerce stores are focused on generating leads and growing sales, it’s easy to lose sight of the personal touch. The simple truth is that people return to brands they know and trust to give the best buying experience.
Live chat is the perfect antidote to this problem: Provide a human touch with your customers’ questions and concerns, and you’ll transform transactional experiences into memorable and pleasant ones.
The world of customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) is a complex one. One of the main challenges that organizations face when trying to create a seamless customer experience is the fact that it’s not just about creating happy customers – it’s also about creating happy employees.
The “experience economy” is a term coined by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore in their book, ‘The Experience Economy, Work is Theatre & Every Business a Stage’. They argue that the experience economy is a new economic paradigm where companies compete for consumers’ attention, not just their money.
To compete in this new landscape, businesses must focus on creating experiences for their customers and employees.
The concept of ‘experience‘ has been around for a long time, but it’s only recently that we’ve seen organizations begin to realize just how important it is.
Identify Critical Interactions and Journeys With Your Customers
Combining customer journey mapping with customer experience (CX) strategy can help your business identify the pain points in your customers’ transitions through various stages of their relationship with your brand.
Once you have a basic roadmap of the customer experience, it’s time to identify where most of your customers are experiencing friction.
Think about how they interact with your business:
What channels do they use?
When do they need support?
How long does it take for them to get a response from your company?
The answers will help you determine where improvement is needed.
The same concept applies from an EX perspective. An EX journey map would include everything from how potential new hires learn about career opportunities with your firm to how they’re onboarded and set up for success as new employees, what kind of coaching they get as they progress within the company, and how they pass on their work to successors.
A Digital-First, Data-Driven Approach Is What Connects CX and EX
Companies need to help their employees get up to speed on the latest developments and changes in their field. A great customer experience happens when everyone on a team is knowledgeable about customers’ preferences, behaviours, and needs.
When your team knows what the customers need, they can better serve them.
The best way to do this is by providing your team with clear and accurate customer data that’s easily accessible from a single source.
A customer-centric company puts customers at the centre of everything they do. That means making the customer experience a priority in all areas of the business, from sales and marketing to product development and customer service.
It also means collecting data from all touchpoints to get a clear picture of who your customers are and what they want—and using this information to inform decisions about products, services, pricing, promotion, and more.
Unify Communications – Humanize the Experience
85% of the time, a great employee experience will result in a great customer experience.
To foster this, companies need to provide human-centered support.
Customer service positions in the new age of remote work or a hybrid workplace can be isolating, leading to burnout and high turnover rates.
Companies must foster a sense of community and encourage employees to engage with one another through internal platforms.
Equip your employee with the right tool
Start with a unified communications platform that brings all your chat, voice, email, and social channels together. This will make it easier for employees to find past conversations and work together on tutorials for new employees.
Priority routing with relationship mapping technology can also be used to help achieve faster first-time resolutions.
Encourage your employees to work together
Ensure your next-generation CX platform delivers a single view of the customer where employees can smoothly switch between external and internal conversations without having to toggle between different applications.
Look for capabilities like omnichannel integration, IVR, AI bots, smart routing, and live chat. Unify your teams so they can work faster and smarter.
Employee Experience and Digital Customer Experience: A New Way Forward
We’re used to thinking of customer experience as the sum of all interactions with an organization. But as we’ve discussed, there are many different touchpoints that make up an organization’s digital customer experience.
And for your employees to deliver on their mission, they need a great employee experience. The two are inseparable—and when they work together well, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.
A good EX program can help you increase CX, profitability, productivity, and employee retention.
Many brick and mortar businesses have put new retail and omnichannel strategies on their agenda. The pandemic has pushed many consumers, like us, online. But yet, different sets of consumers still long for the in-store experiences.
On another note, companies, now, have to battle with a mix of high inflation, consumer behaviour and changing trends. With big brands like Walmart and Shopify laying off their workforce, there is a significant uncertainty in the retail industry.
That said, all sectors of the retail industry had embraced technology solutions to accelerate the pace of digital transformation.
For the many of our beloved retails brands, offline-to-online commerce (O2O) is the solution.
O2O integration is where retailers use online and offline to provide improved customer experiences. It’s a strategy to convert traffic from ecommerce into offline sales.
A report by Forrester notes that while online shopping is projected to grow to 27% of overall retail sales by 2023, consumers are rethinking the in-store experience – with 40% of adults in the US saying they enjoy shopping in stores less than before the pandemic.
A hybrid O2O retail model bridges the two channels with a single strategy – elevating in-store shopping with digitally-enhanced experiences, while providing enticing virtual environments online. As customers become more experience-driven, the gap between ecommerce and physical stores is further reduced, with completely re-imagined customer journeys.
Virtual shopping with live digital support
Online shoppers can be instantly connected to skilled in-store staff to explore products. Customisable web widgets for live chat, audio and video calls can be leveraged for instant customer service or virtual shopping experiences. These widgets can also be activated by clicking web links – which many businesses design in their branding as buttons or images on their websites, inviting shoppers to enjoy tailored shopping experiences.
Digital platforms connect customers to staff best suited to their needs, while delivering rich customer insights.
They can even follow up with the customer over their preferred instant messaging and social media channels for better relationship building – even sending special offers and deals exclusive to that customer.
Many of us know QR codes where customers can scan them for shopping, provide product information and make payments.
Another way is to bridge the divide between in-person and virtual environments through QR codes. This blends the O2O shopping experience. For example, sharing of QR codes in marketing campaigns and advertisements, or sending a message on your Facebook Pages can transform them into a powerful communication platform. Strong retail relationships can be built through live chat, instant message platforms, virtual number or video calls and more. A QR code linked to a cloud-based omnichannel solution can help you to build a 360° customer profile with minimal effort.
Humanising your brand to nurture customer relationships
Modern customers have come to expect almost immediate responses to their queries. If you keep them waiting, or force them to navigate through a complicated procedure to answer their question, you will miss opportunities and risk losing customers to the competition. Another key differentiator is quality of service – which the right technology platform can help with, through the power of data.
With the rapid increase of users on digital platforms has been a great opportunity for brands and organizations to get hold of their customers, interact with them, acquire new customers, take feedback, make improvements and the biggest benefit has been measurable results of marketing campaigns.
Starting from the beginning of the journey to the end goal of a brand, one can easily make a high converting funnel with expert guidance.
The most effective generic funnel has always been Brand Awareness —> Consideration/ Engagement —> Conversion
With the help of social platforms, we can reach out to people who are found mostly on digital platforms. According to a recent study, on an avg. the user spends around 147 minutes daily on social media. Now the best part has been that audiences on these platforms are scattered which gives us the advantage to target users on basis of their demography and behavior. Example: Young generation up to the age of 27 are more active on Instagram while the elder generation still prefers Facebook. This number isn’t a universal constant but keeps on changing depending on the country, geography, literacy, income, and various factors.
With the help of targeting options available for advertisers, we can target the right audience with the right content at the right time to achieve the brand goals.
With the help of remarketing campaigns, we can target the customers who have already been our buyers or shown interest in our ad in any form. It might be a scroll to the bottom of the page, Clicks, search on the website, add to cart, checkout, add a payment method, etc.
Differentiating all these audiences with different events, we can create and feed content accordingly. Thus, increasing the conversion rate.
There’s an ongoing debate if paid media is beneficial or organic –
To achieve the best results, both approaches should be followed simultaneously. Though all the platforms are somehow decreasing the organic reach and visibility of content. It’s advised that paid media should not be neglected at any cost.
While Organic media gives long-lasting results if carried out constantly for a never-ending time, Paid Media gives instant results at any point in time.
Some of the biggest mistakes that brands should avoid-
Irregularity in maintaining a digital presence
Not having a brand identity
Not following brand guidelines
Ignoring Paid Distribution of ads
Concluding this article, marketing is all about creating a perception. The best is to create the right one. Maintain distance from unethical marketing tactics. It might give short-term results but in long run, you will end up losing the trust of your customers and among competitors.
In today’s fast paced digital era, there is a clutter of brands popping out of everywhere and anywhere to catch the attention of customers on digital screens and trying to convert them into loyal customers. The marketers are facing unprecedented challenges in achieving their objectives of having customers be loyal to your brand with the hope that they follow the brand on social media platform, endorse your brand and spread the positive word about your brand digitally.
Sometime back a marketing colleague from the industry was discussing with me the scenario of catching the customer’s eyeballs. Expecting consistent loyalty from the ever-demanding customers has become a daunting task as part of brand management. Thanks to the advent of social media, the customers are empowered more than ever, and their loyalty can swing anywhere and anytime depending on their off-line or online brand experience.
I agreed on the points raised by my colleague, but I didn’t want to give my point of view using marketing strategies, management jargons, statistics etc. I was pretty much sure that he may already be bombarded with various marketing gurus’ theories and the abundance of marketing related content available online.
So, I gave my perspective by asking him if he would join me during my next visit to my hair salon. He gave me a weird look which was not unexpected as it may have not made sense to him at that point of time, but I liked his instant response that he was more comfortable going to his regular salon. Bingo!
I asked him why he would stick to the same salon, his answers were brisk as below:
1) The salon is a neat place with good, experienced hairdressers
2) His regular hairdresser knew what kind of a haircut suits him based on the previous umpteen visits to the salon
3) The hairdresser also understands how to change hairstyle suiting his personality depending on new fashion trends
4) The hairdresser gives him a free good head massage that relaxes him post every haircut and sometimes induces him into a facial package when his face looks haggard
5) The cost is not at all high for the services the hairdresser offers him
6) The salon is located close to his house
7) Last but not least, he enjoys the entertaining chats during the hair cut that revolves around his favorite topic of movies and sports while at the same time the hairdresser provides him insights on the local area activities and updates that he may not get to read in the local newspapers.
I was impressed with his customer loyalty to the salon, and I just translated his experiences into a familiar marketing lingo addressing each of his point as below:
1) Quality Products and Services
2) Understanding and Personalizing Customer Needs
3) Improvised Services by Pre-empting Trends
4) Offering Value-Added- Services
5) Offering Value-For-Money
6) Location of Convenience
7) Educate, Engage and Entertain Customers
Digitally the way we communicate with our customers may have changed but the customers’ expectations about product and services may not have drastically changed.
Consistently offer quality product and services with VFM (Value for money) pricing, backed with integrated marketing and periodic research to gauge the consumer and competition trends. In all probability you will have consumers loyal to your brand even when the competition is fighting for the eyeball attention on digital screens. Conquer the marketing funnel using the right MarTech, and AdTech!
My industry colleague couldn’t wait to pay his next visit to the salon to interact with his new “messiah of marketing” so that he could pay closer attention to his experience in order to apply similar marketing skills in his quest to build customer loyalty towards his brands both offline and online!
About 15 years ago, the early disciples of Direct-To-Consumer [DTC] brands, began spreading the word – DTC as a business model was about lower prices, higher margins, and one-to-one customer relationships. Fast forward to today, the DTC landscape is crowded with brands jostling for consumer mindspace. With customer acquisition costs rising and Apple’s iOS ATT update resulting in a reduced ability for facebook and email marketers to track, understand user behavior, target audiences and measure performance accurately – there hasn’t been a more important time than now to leverage and build a powerful marketing technology stack that puts customers at the front and center of a DTC brand’s strategy and mission in order to survive.
Successful DTC brands today focus on building a deep understanding of their customer, strengthen their offerings, educate, entertain, and remind their customers with a single goal to convert visitors to buyers and grow customer lifetime value.
Technology has been at the forefront of a DTC entrepreneurs arsenal influencing daily decisions from understanding a customer’s first order, to building a content strategy leveraging analytics and research, gaining a better understanding of on-site visitor behavior in the storefront, or targeting audiences that are most likely to convert.
Below are ten powerful ways DTC brands leverage technology to scale to 8 figures and beyond profitably.
Let’s dive in.
Building a content first strategy with powerful SEO for brand discoverability
Building a search engine optimized site that is discoverable with high quality content that educates your customers across the customer journey is a good starting point. Additionally, customer journey mapping, with creating a content strategy as a fundamental foundation to communicate with your customer personas and on-site conversion rate optimization yields a flywheel for continuous growth. As we know it a brand without content is faceless, it has no way to get repeat business, grow a customer base and compete against companies with similar products. A real brand has a strong email list of subscribers, authority in their niche and a community of raving fans who consume their content and buy their products again and again. The world’s best DTC brands leverage content to tell their stories to customers and address “why” they exist to serve the customer. Organic content costs less than paid for each marginal visitor – its upfront investment is offset by reduced customer acquisition cost (CAC), more loyalty and a much longer ROI window.
From product pages, blogs to social media the best DTC brands leverage content marketing to build engagement and trust with the brand. Below are ways in which successful DTC brands leverage different technology platforms and applications to provide a full funnel experience by embracing content as a primary pillar.
Top of Funnel Content: focuses on educating the audience, entertaining, engaging the customer and addressing a specific pain point or need they are looking to address. Creative assets for paid social such as images, sales videos, testimonials, UGC can be created via technology platforms such as Canva, Snappa, Adobe Spark, Visme, Vimeo and Wistia are great to build rich experiences on the website and creative assets such as carousels, videos, collection ad formats besides create Instagram stories, Instagram reels that particularly work well for DTC brands. UGC platforms Cohley and Pixlee help brands connect with customers and engage them with authentic conversations inviting them to discover the brand. Building on-site personalized quizzes can further improve time on site and grow engagement with your customer.
Middle of Funnel Content: focuses on helping educate, informing and building trust with the customer. The focus here is to solve for why your product or service would help fulfill the customer’s needs. Building social proof by integrating platforms like Trustpilot, Yotpo are great. Brands integrate chat via Paloma, ManyChat and MobileMonkey that help DTC brands engage, inform and retain visitors on the website – channels such as Instagram and facebook messenger accelerate customer experience and brand credibility.
Bottom Of Funnel Content: this is where the rubber hits the road. Ensuring your store has product optimized pages with a goal to ensure a frictionless path to conversion with one click upsells, a seamless add to cart experience, a secure check-out with a post-purchase cross sell opportunity to grow average order value (AOV), conversion rates (CR) and customer lifetime value (CLV) are big rocks that aid conversion optimisation. Landing Pages that are AMP optimized for quick mobile downloads and desktop optimized separately are important to ensure a rich customer experience and reduce bounce rates, load times and improve conversions. Ensuring message match between ads, content and product offer pages is key not only to ensure a high-quality score when running facebook and google ads but also is key to increase conversion rates and lower cart abandonment. By adopting technology software such Unbounce and InstaPage to launch custom landing pages in a drag and drop environment DTC brands are able to drastically improve customer experience, drive customer retention and prevent a leaky bucket. Apps such as Zipify and Candy Rack are two of the top-rated apps on the Shopify app store that allow you to easily create upsell and cross-sell offers.
Nik Sharma, CEO of Sharma Brands states, “If you invest in SEO today, you will reap its ROI over 12 years”. For some brands, relevant search volume will allow them to scale to tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of qualified shoppers per month through search engine optimization (SEO).
To do that requires a combination of three factors.
One, optimizing your collection and product pages for high-buying-intent keywords. Two, optimizing those same pages for technical considerations – correct H tags, alt image tags, and load speed. Three, producing additional content for non-buying-intent keywords. By leveraging SEMRUSH, BackLinko and Ahrefs a seamless search engine optimised storefront with organic traffic can be built, growing the stores brand authority while driving conversions.
2. Ensuring a healthy channel mix while building traffic
Once a DTC brand builds a great product that solves a specific need or pain-point of the customer, saves time, money or solves a problem – then the next ideal step is a laser focus on building traffic. Traffic = store visitors. As John Mac Donald, President & Founder of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm states, “Visitors come to your store only for two reasons – to research your products and understand if it solves their problem or need and to purchase as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Your job as an ecommerce marketer is to get them what they came for with the least friction”.
As an young DTC brand, a focus on growing organic traffic, improving on-site conversion rate through conversion rate optimization and establishing a retention strategy via email and SMS marketing to grow your short-term LTV (60-day LTV) will deliver profitability in order to better prepare you to scale in the future.
Early DTC brands that have seen success aim to push revenue via organic traffic to 20%+ and email marketing to 25% to build for profitability.
Once brands hit 15M+ and are a maturing DTC brand, direct organic traffic should contribute to at least 40% of total traffic. As DTC brands build sizeable organic traffic and continue to grow with a goal to deeply understanding their customer personas, they grow higher quality traffic to drive to their storefront and scale business further by a focus on paid advertising via search and social. A focus on full funnel advertising optimized at an SKU and price point level to win profitable sales, building high converting creatives rooted in analytics focused on time tested principles that accelerate the customers journey should be the focus all with one primary goal – get visitors to make a purchase. Further brands build intelligent remarketing campaigns that separate customers, visitors, browsers, and cart abandoners. Search engine marketing (SEM) is leveraged to make sure that the store “owns their real estate”: the top results for branded searches. Google ads versus Facebook ads shouldn’t be pitted against each other; but instead work together to build an omnichannel presence across search, shopping, and social media. A healthy store has a 40-60 organic to paid traffic mix or an ideal 50-50 organic to paid traffic mix.
None of this is possible to track and measure without using the rich machine learning capabilities and algorithms of the big three – facebook, google and amazon ad platforms and pixels or even first party and third-party data technologies.
3. Optimizing for the conversion always! Growing revenue per visitor as a goal.
When DTC brands focus all efforts into cutting down wasteful expenditure testing ads with small budgets first, always testing 6-8 creatives and remarketing to existing customers while prospecting to new potential customers only – they see a lift in conversions and conversion rates besides improved return on ad spend (ROAS). When brands test both ads and funnels leveraging the AIDA model and rapidly iterate creative assets to optimize for the conversion, paid advertising finally pays off and allows brands to rapidly scale, grow new customers and drive repeat purchase rates and average order value.
By accelerating on-site conversion rate optimization actions, focusing on bespoke photography and video asset optimization, site speed and mobile optimized AMP pages for quick load times, brands are able to build profitable ecommerce funnels that reduce friction points to conversion such as your offer, return rates, bad reviews, poor product quality, creative, account optimization goals or an incongruent message or visual between your ad and landing page structure. Testing each element of the ecommerce funnel – ad imagery, headlines, copy, blog copy, video, testimonials, social reviews creates a frictionless path to conversion with a coherent message to the consumer. Further conversion rate optimisation does not end with the purchase – post-purchase retention strategies help further drive engagement, cross-sell and upsells that consistently grow brand loyalty, increase repeat purchase rates reducing average time between orders.
By personalizing the customer journey across touchpoints, focusing on product assortment optimization, directing paid dollars to acquire ideal customers and ensuring message match between the ad and landing page, DTC brands are able to greatly impact conversion rates and volume. Marketing software such as Adobe Spark Post, Canva, no limit creatives allow entrepreneurs and marketers to rapidly test creative performance and build stunning creative assets. Conversion Optimisation Software (CRO) software such as Omniconvert, Optimizely and VWO enables brands to conduct RFM segmentation, cohort analysis and launch customer surveys to better understand customer clusters with varied lifetime value, on-site behavior and intent. This helps every marketer to successfully focus on profitable growth.
With heatmaps, rapid A/B testing and software such as HotJar, Microsoft Clarity, brands are able to optimise on-site product page experiences. Further, auditing customer reviews on your store and on Amazon can play a part in strengthening the product offering and service capability.
DTC brands personalize cart recovery by installing LiveRecover. They recover about 20-25% of abandoned carts at minimum. All these actions are an essential part to conversion rate optimisation for the storefront online.
4. Accelerating LTV with retention programs via email marketing, SMS marketing, informative newsletters, community building programs for your brand
If you aren’t leveraging email and SMS marketing, you are leaving a pile of cash on the table. Nik Sharma, CEO of Sharma Brands says, “Good retention is about coming up with plays that keep your product in the top 15-20 things in a person’s head at any one time”. Simply put – email marketing and SMS marketing are those #1 and #2 retention channels!
No other channel matches the ROI of email marketing. For every $1 spent email generates $38. Well performing email marketing has the potential to drive 20%-30% revenue.
Email is the most important touch point between brand and community. It helps convince people to engage, consider, buy and express, take interest, engage and influence buyers. With customer acquisition costs likely to continue to spiral upwards, investing in email marketing to build a direct relationship with the customer and “own” the relationship is critical.
As Chase Dimond, Co-Founder of Boundless Labs says, “I think email’s important for a lot of reasons. First – with the iOS 14 update and cookies going away, it’s going to be even more important to control your audience and really have predictable revenue.
The goal is to get to a point where you can press send and you know that this campaign is going to drive you X number of clicks and X number of sales and the revenue per recipient is this.
And with Facebook and some of these other channels, those are obviously very effective for what I do. We are dependent on top-of-the-funnel traffic, but they’re going to become a lot less precise, a lot less predictable. So having a channel like email marketing where you own, and you control your destiny is going to be super important”.
Marketing automation platforms such as Klaviyo, Privy, Active Campaign and Sendlane allow marketers to not only establish a one-to-one relationship with the existing and potential customers but leverage deep learning to build segments and communicate with your customers to inform, educate and convert more visitors to customers.
By focusing on a healthy mix of both campaigns and flows. Ensuring your core flows welcome series, cart and browse abandonment and post purchase series are always activated. Building a cadence of list hygiene and cleaning to ensure healthy engagement rates – email marketing can become a highly profitable channel.
Merchandising emails with top-sellers and bundled offers to drive repeat purchases help grow a DTC brands average order value (AOV).
Post purchase emails are critical to keep customers engaged, thanking customers for purchases made and launching cross-sell and up-sell opportunities over time grow AOV. Educating your customers about how to use your products leveraging newsletters, build social proof and valuable feedback. Email Marketing helps shore up organic traffic through a continuous stream of existing customers visiting your site to explore new products, engage with your blog and feel part of a community.
With the iOS 15 ATT updates, we will see a potential impact on opens leading to our inability to accurately understand revenue, IP based activity, ability to serve dynamic content, list segmentation, build automated triggers and logic, launch list hygiene and offboard unengaged subscribers. Ensuring UTM tracking is accurate and consistent to enable last click reporting through Google Analytics would be key. Collecting historical data to adequately read without open data would help create a baseline to benchmark against. Updating segments to utilise recent creation, clicks, purchases and site sessions to build segments of engaged contacts. Auditing all automated flows for use of opens and identify any elements of the program reliant on Geo-IP. Implementing batched re-engagement series for pre-iOS 15 list hygiene would go a long way in making informed and intelligent decisions to boost the health of your email marketing program.
5. Building A Frontline of Defense with Customer Service:
Martech platforms such as Gorgias go a long way in not only reducing churn but also leveraging data to build customer service as not only brand advocates and grow one-on-one relationships with the customer. Customer service is a brand’s frontline of defence. Customers are the first to know when something is wrong, broken, or if anything can be done better. By identifying the needs, concerns, and issues of the customer faster than anyone else, brands can also fix or address problems before it gets any bigger and becomes damaging to the company.
It is important to keep the customer happy. If it is their first-time ordering from a brand and they have a less than stellar experience, they are most likely not going to order again. They will not give any of the company’s second products a try, such as the more expensive purchases or subscriptions. That is why customer service helps in not only preventing any bad experiences but building a trusted relationship. By offering simple solutions from a technical standpoint, such as dealing with refunds or providing a shipping label, the customer is excited that the brand provided them with a solution. Tools like Gorgias help drive stellar customer service enabling brands to leverage data to cross sell and up sell products, retain or win back customers and provide exceptional customer experience.
6. Scaling with Facebook Ads Profitably
Why facebook you may ask? With more than 2.9 BN monthly active users worldwide, facebook is the largest social network. Besides the continuing challenges with Apple’s iOS updates, it is estimated that ad spends would continue to rise by 32% on facebook in 2022 per eMarketer. While CPMs have risen by +47% on facebook in the US and +54% YOY for ecommerce brands – there simply put isn’t a single channel replacement for facebook that provides better or similar returns.
Facebook and Instagram are the highest performing, most efficient channels out there why? This is because of the humongous data they are sitting on. Facebook pixels are over 8 million websites on the internet. facebook knows about their users through their conversion tracking algorithm more than anyone else.
On the buy side of the facebook platform it is important to focus on five key areas to leverage the power of the platform profitably.
Feed the facebook algorithm with a variety of ad creatives, testing every part of the ad while leveraging a consolidated account structure, ensure message match and congruence between ad and landing page
Set clear prospecting goals only targeting new users to be able to retarget to existing users for scale and profitability
Build audience exclusions while setting up retargeting for visitors, cart abandoners, engagers, and varied customer segments
Calculate facebook budgets and CPA targets based on profitability goals
Eliminate single account ROAS goals while focusing on SKU based goals
Embrace Adobe Spark, Pixlr X, Snappa, Adobe Premier Rush to create outstanding Facebook ads that convert.
7. Always refining the almighty offer to grow AOV and short-term cash multiplier LTV 60 days
Focus on understanding different customer segments and their purchase trends, what they are willing to recommend and what they have returned. If you have excess inventory, BOGO is a great promotional offer to increase customer engagement and generate sales. Free shipping belongs on every customer list. Conversion rates are known to increase when you use free shipping. Free returns set customers minds free and gets them to purchase more. Threshold free shipping can incentivize shoppers to add more items to their cart increasing both AOV and LTV. At all times, merchants must cater for what people really care about – which is almost never a brand or founder story – but something relevant to their needs.
Limited edition and low in stock are great ways to drive urgency besides money back guarantees. Product bundling including starter kits and special edition seasonal items. A membership or subscription program is a powerful way to bring your customers into an exclusive club and generate some guaranteed revenue. If your membership is structured well, you can get your customers to spend more than they would otherwise. Store credits are a great way to get your customers to come back again and incentivise the next purchase.
Bolstering your business with a robust live chat experience, customer service platform such as Gorgias or building a customer review via UGC with Okendo would work wonders for your brand. This would help in driving more traffic by showing reviews in paid and organic marketing channels including Google Ads, Google Search and Google Shopping. The above tactics all go a long way to improve average order value (AOV) and LTV 60 days i.e., a cash multiplier for the brand.
8. Capturing demand through Search Engine Marketing with Google Shoppingand Google Ads
If brands want to be wherever their customers are, then this is one of the foundational steps. If someone finds a brand on Facebook or they see the brand on Amazon, one of the next things they’ll do is search for same brand on Google and so as DTC brands, we want to show up there for branded search.
Now you might be asking, if someone is searching for me by name, won’t my organic search do the trick? Because I’m going to probably rank for my own name number one. And the answer is, yes you most likely will rank at the top organically for your own brand name. There are very rare exceptions that you would not. However, there are likely going to be some ads above you.
Branded Search Ads help prevent competitors from poaching a brands customers. Search Ad spend is still growing at 20% per year. Google Shopping makes up 55-60% of all retail paid search clicks per Search Engine Journal. One of the reasons why Google Shopping is so popular is because the return on ad spend (ROAS) is just consistently strong.
Google Tag Manager (GTM) is the holy grail. Once you install the GTM container pixel on your site, you’ll be able to manage all your pixels from the GTM user interface. Launching Google Tag Manager on site, also makes sure you have a much less chance of accidentally breaking your site trying to add pixels. More importantly it will help you track the holy conversion and other key actions such as add to cart, order value, product or item bought, sales revenue and much more.
9. Launching private label brands on Amazon FBA and leveraging Amazon Advertising
Amazon is quickly becoming a destination for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands looking to expand their reach and increase their sales. Since third-party sellers joined Amazon in 1999, they’ve grown to account for 58% of Amazon sales.
DTC brands that have an already established store can leverage 300 million active customers across 180+ countries via Amazon. It is one of the most efficient ways to reach new customers with 66% of new product searches beginning on Amazon.
Positive Customer Reviews can boost the brands perception and drive organic traffic to their store thereby improving conversions and sales. This means healthier profit margins.
With Facebook ads costs rising post Apple’s iOS ATT rollout by almost +45-55%, Amazon PPC ad costs could be cheaper depending upon the category. DTC Brands could leverage market intelligence platforms such as Jungle Scout and Helium10 to make real time decisions on their Amazon FBA strategy based on their inventory availability, new product launch strategy, gain competitor insights and feedback from customer reviews to continuously iterate the product and improve product features, packaging and after-sales service. Brands could even launch bundled offers to push excess inventory or plan to push sales during peak holiday seasons to maximize both sales volume and profitability
10. Measuring what Matters
Successful DTC ecommerce brands know their growth is tied to a fundamental set of metrics. Visitors, Conversion Rate, Operating Expenditure, Contribution Margin and Customer Lifetime Value are some of the key metrics that when tracked and measured, lead to informed decision making and a profitable DTC commerce business with more cash in the bank. Other key metrics such as Net Promoter Score, Customer Acquisition Cost, Purchase Frequency, Average Order Value, Time to First Response and CLV to CAC ratio are additionally important metrics to track.
A holistic view of these metrics cannot be attained in the absence of technology driven software such as Google Analytics, OmniConvert, Tydo, Ramp, Settle and more.
Successful DTC brands start with a mission to create world class products that best serve the customer to deliver exceptional customer experiences with customer lifetime value as their north star. Some of the world’s best DTC brands such as Glossier, Beardbrand, Lalo, Qalo, and many more power their DTC technology stack leveraging these world class software applications and platforms mentioned in the article above.
Smarte Digital is a boutique ecommerce growth marketing consultancy with a mission to scale DTC brands that are between 2MN-30MN+ profitably.
In today’s connected and on-demand economy, relevance is the most important currency. This harkens back to the drivers of marketing evolutions, which are marketing technology and consumer needs. To stay relevant, marketers must adopt a customer-centric approach.
Next Technologies’ main purpose is to amplify the capabilities of marketers to create and deliver value. With the rapidly-changing consumer behaviours due to the pandemic, marketers can create solutions that are more relevant than those created by the current-state AI.
Kolter touches on how Technology is adding value to marketing through the above five components with society and sustainability in mind.
Stepping into Marketing 5.0, T-shaped marketers would see the expansion and deepening of various domains (e.g. Behavioural Psychology, Digital Analytics, AR/VR, Service & UX Design).
Am I ready for Marketing 5.0?
The biggest challenge marketers face is the journey from strategy to execution! Let alone being ready for Marketing 5.0.
In my career journey, I am neither on track with Jack Ma’s career advice nor ready to take on the entrepreneurship path. I believe there is no rush to setting deadlines to attain your career goals (something that Jack Ma begs to differ).
My current goal is to advance from being a T-Shaped to a V-Shaped Marketer by broadening my business acumen, technical know-how while strengthening interpersonal skills. Individuals are rarely capable of achieving a true, deep “V” shape in their skill sets, but a collective unit can. I am blessed to have the opportunity to learn alongside similarly-minded, differentiated knowledge-experts within Google.
If you are just starting your digital marketing journey or at the cusp of a career-pivot, don’t fret – here are some readings that will help you get up to speed with the MarTech Universe (not the Marvel Universe!) and pivot to becoming a T-shaped marketer.
Good Reads and Frameworks: Marketing 5.0’s Marketer
Low data prices has increased Internet users in India (mobile first Internet market) while propelling the growth/reach of social media giants as well as video content watch time over the last 5 years; but digital media still isn’t the preferred vehicle of marketing for most clients and only accounts for 25-30% of the industry spends, although it is growing YOY.
The adoption of digital media has been hindered by the fragmented digital ecosystem, doubts over ad fraud and effectiveness of the medium, questions over viewability of ads, traditional mindset of brand managers and their lack of understanding of the digital ecosystem. Even until recently, I have been asked to run campaigns targeting the brands HQ or been provided with custom audience lists of senior executives in the company, to be targeted with the brand campaign so as to satisfy and address the question a lot of brand managers ask – I am not able to see my ad; as they compare it to traditional media where ads are shown in an appointment-viewing manner.
The ever-changing pandemic situation has definitely forced a digital pivot, with print and outdoor media taking a hit. Brand managers are forced to consider digital due to its targeting capabilities ensuring low spillage and cost efficiencies. And like learning the ABCs of the alphabets, all brands jump on the bandwagon of Facebook and Google with over 80% budget going to these 2 platforms. The platform scale/reach, along with cost efficiencies as well as brand credibility is definitely unbeatable in the space and hence becomes a no brainer for brands. But as the adoption of the duopoly increases, the strength and power of the walled gardens grow and so do their prices.
As marketers spend more on these platforms, they understand less about their customers as walled garden campaigns and interactions can’t be tied back to the brand’s CRM database. Brands receive a consolidated view of how their campaigns performed rather than an individualized view. There’s no way to verify impression/reach data or understand affinity target selections that work, you simply have to take it on faith. Yet marketers continue to spend more and get less.
A more equitable value exchange needs to be more about standardizing taxonomy and identifiers across all of these platforms to see and understand the customer journey. Today, even having unified unique reach in a digital campaign is next to impossible due to the fragmented ecosystem as well as walled gardens.
With the increased spends on digital, reports indicate that ad fraud rates gone up by 40% in these COVID times.Today ad verification in India is in its nascent stages and only around 10-15% invest on third party verification tools. The path for safer and more secure digital advertising effectiveness lies in third party ad verification, which ensures that brands are investing in quality media. Third party verification would ensure 4 things mainly
Ad Fraud – identifying Invalid Traffic to help evaluate efficacy of platform and calculate brands return on media investment
Viewability – helps measure effectiveness of ad delivery
In Geo – ensure ads served within intended demographics
Advertisers need to understand these underlying challenges as the adoption of digital increases at a rapid pace. Investing in third party verification tools will not only improve trust and transparency in the ecosystem, while also holding publishers accountable and thus help decreasing fraudulent traffic and increasing overall return on investment.