The Awesome Power of Customer Reviews

We’ve all asked for the opinion of a friend or family member when we’re either looking for something or are about to buy something. It’s just human nature to want to get support on our decision or be offered an alternative when we’re about to make a mistake.

When it comes to online, we do the same but a lot of us, 93% in fact, rely on online reviews as they impact our purchasing decision. Therefore, so many businesses have implemented review abilities on their website and the individual products they sell.

But what happens when the system is manipulated, either intentionally or unintentionally? And with the rise of fake reviews all over the internet is the once ‘King of Social Proof’ on the verge of losing its crown?

 

Why Reviews are so Powerful

Customer reviews are a double-sided coin for a business. In the eyes of the customer, they create credibility and offer social proof whilst allowing them to have a voice, share their experience and help create loyalty.

For the business, it gives you valuable insight into the overall experience you’re offering from being found to a delivery arriving. With this, you can find areas that might not otherwise be seen that can be improved. Your marketing efforts are massively improved because as we mentioned before, people rely on reviews and if they’re highlighted in the right way, they could improve conversion and improve search rankings.

 

The Darker Side of Customer Reviews

But as much as they can help, if something seems a little off, customers are going to pick up on it.

Any kind of manipulation of reviews is going to stand out like a sore thumb. Censorship of reviews and the purchasing of fake reviews are unethical as a starting point, but they raise concerns for those looking at them. The fake reviews situation for Amazon has become such an issue that they're now taking legal action against fake review brokers to be able to protect their customers.

95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores and 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews.

Understandably, a business does not want to have pages and pages of bad reviews but hiding them is not going to fix the problem. Each one should be looked at as a learning experience and be used to make business improvements. They’re also an opportunity to address the concerns of your customers openly and transparently. Simply sticking them in a metaphorical box marked ‘ignore’ just creates more of the same. If you ignore the concerns of those customers, you’ll either never get another purchase or their voices will just get louder.

 

Infographic by- Invesp Conversion Rate Optimization

 

How do you avoid falling into these traps?

There are a few ways that you can do this.

 

  • Publish any genuine review - good, or bad.

34% of consumers have said that their low product ratings have not been published by eCommerce sites. You don’t want to be one of those sites doing this.

 

  • Respond to those reviews that need your input

Inevitably, things will not go right every single time. Don’t ignore the bad or less than perfect reviews. Reach out and use them as an opportunity to turn things around. Try to keep as much of the resolution in the open so that others can see what you have done to resolve it, but don’t get into arguments in the reviews section with customers. Remember they’re not a personal attack on you, they are in most cases an outlet for frustration and a request for resolution. Take it as an opportunity to create a new customer experience that blows their expectations and creates a loyal customer in the future.

 

  • Don’t purchase fake reviews.

This feels like it goes without saying but it is happening. 82% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year and 62% of consumers have experienced significant variations between online reviews and actual products received. It is a false economy and the long-term brand damage is hard to fix.

The purchasing of fake reviews takes many forms and however, it is attempted it doesn’t work. Even things like incentivising customers to leave positive reviews with the promise of winning something or getting something in return falls into this category.

 

  • Restrict reviews to only be submitted from verified purchases.

Again, this sounds like a bit of common sense but many places are not putting this into action. By using reviews from people who bought the product from you, it builds credibility for the reader. They know that the person went through the journey with you and received what it is they bought.

 

  • Use a trusted Third Party to validate the reviews and add their credibility.

As much as a person is looking for product reviews on the website itself, using a third party like Trustpilot can add weight. They’re seen as an independent outlier with nothing to gain by manipulating your review scores.

If people have doubts, they often google your business name followed by reviews. This drives them to places like Trustpilot where if you’ve been ignoring bad reviews or soliciting unauthorised good reviews it comes to light.

We as a business use Clutch. All reviews must be submitted with LinkedIn authorisation and the team at Clutch authenticate each review before publishing. Sure, we have testimonials on the website but using Clutch helps support the claims we’re making.

 

  • Extend the types of reviews you’re getting

Getting customers to support reviews with images or videos adds another layer of authenticity. It is an extra step in the process that fake reviewers are unlikely to take and if you’re selling things like clothing or furniture and don’t offer a visual commerce option in the shopping experience, it reassures people that what they think they’re buying, they’re buying.

 

Summing it all up

Customer reviews are great for your business and can have a serious impact on the number of people who choose to buy from you. And with the number of new eCommerce stores on the rise, they can be the difference when things like price and delivery options are all the same.

But you need to play the game fairly. Be open and honest with the feedback and learn from it where you can whilst keeping as much as the problem solving out in the open. We’re not suggesting you air all the dirty laundry but always responding with ‘DM us or send us an email’ offers little reassurance that the issue was ever resolved beyond moving it to another channel, simply to be ignored there.

And the final word is that if you’re asking people to leave their opinion after taking an action, be prepared that not everything is going to be a gold star glowing response. Regardless of how hard you may have worked or how much effort was put into the interaction, we all have different expectations and you’re essentially competing with their last incredible customer experience.


15 Minutes With Luke Frake | Podcast Episode #8

In our eighth episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Luke Frake. Luke is the Experimentation Lead - User Growth at Spotify.

Luke's interests are in the field of optimisation and experimentation, which are becoming more and more recognised within mainstream digital commerce as vital to any long term experience strategy. As part of the User Research Team at Spotify, Luke is involved in optimising digital experience for Spotify users.

In this episode we talk through the challenges faced when a scientific mindset is applied into a business setting, valuing 'failures' as learnings and understanding that in some cases, the failures are more valuable than the successes.

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Graham  00:14

On today's episode of 15 minutes with, we have experimentation and user growth lead at Spotify, Luke Frake joining us. Luke's interests are in the field of optimization and experimentation, which are becoming more and more recognised within mainstream digital commerce as vital to any long term experience strategy. As part of the user research team at Spotify, Luke is involved in optimising digital experience for Spotify users. Luke talks through some of the challenges that come from operating in an emerging field as well as how applying a scientific mindset allows us to value failures as learnings. In fact, it would seem the businesses can actually learn more from their experimentation failures than their successes.

Shelley  00:52

Luke, welcome.

Luke Frake  00:53

Hi. Hi, Shelley. Nice to chat with you. I'm good. Thank you. How are you?

Shelley  00:58

Fabulous, so good to have you. We wanted to get straight into it and ask you, what does good experimentation culture look like?

01:06

I think there's quite a few different ways that you can summarise good experimentation culture, I think there's like a few different points that you can consider when looking at different companies and looking around. I mean, firstly, like, how data driven as a company, are they making their decisions, because somebody in some C suite office is saying that this is what they should do? Are they making decisions backed by measurable data, you know, user research, analytic data, anything like that? I think that's one of like the key ones that comes up first, I think people are encouraged to kind of think outside of the box, you know, people enabled to fail, make mistakes and try different things that kind of goes against the curve, what metric people are using? And like how, how are they measuring success in different areas of the business? Big one, I think, is democracy within experimentation culture, as well. So how are people allowed throughout the business to make these decisions that decisions and to make these mistakes? Are people C level making all of the experiment ideas? Or is it coming down to kind of every junior analyst and eveyone else around the company able to do these things? Continuing on - What happens with like results from experiments? And how do people perceive these sorts of things? I think there's like a huge list of like how people can consider and how people can think about these different like bits and pieces. It's a big one, it's a big question to unpack for sure.

Shelley  02:20

Absolutely, we could easily spend the entire episode talking about just that. In your experience, is that a utopian picture? Or is it achievable for businesses?

Luke Frake  02:30

Absolutely, I think it's completely achievable. I think it's very hard to change, though, that'd be my my crux of it. I think when you speak to companies that that do not have a good experimentation, culture don't have, you know, have fear of failure built in within the company, and how kind of top down decisions and don't look at data, I think it's very, very hard to change, you know, purely by the fact that if you have a top down culture, the top is deciding what's happening. If the top doesn't want to change, it becomes very difficult, but it's definitely possible. I mean, you know, I've worked with so many different companies and variety, like varying degrees at this scale of good culture and bad culture, if you'd like, quote unquote. But but it's definitely there are companies that are absolutely smashing this I mean, look at like Spotify, I think is a great company. But I think looking outwards, you know, booking.com, and companies like this, where they really are just churning out experiments, churning out learnings, but also making different from these learnings as well.

Graham  03:27

And would you suggest that, if a company wanted to do this, they start small? And if they're going to start small, where do they start? Because you could go, You know what, let's just both feet in and see what happens. But I guess with that, there's a risk that you'll try once fail, and never go back. Whereas if you start small, you can kind of build to a crescendo, per se.

Luke Frake  03:50

Yeah I think when it comes to running experiments, starting small is one thing, and I think it's important, but I think you touched on a really good point, then it's like, what is the outcome of these experiments? And how do people perceive that and that that is a fundamental part. And I think that's something that's hard to start small. I think that has to be kind of educated in all directions of a company. And what I mean by that is the, you know, the most successful experiments don't always come from the biggest uplift in a metric or something, an experiment that fails its hypothesis, you know, we think we think a is going to happen, but actually it doesn't. And this happens instead, that's, that's a learning. And that's what's important. That's the important crux of experimentation, you're learning. I love when one of my experiments increases a metric  by 15%. And that's a huge win. And I give myself a pat on the back for that sort of thing. But at the end of the day, that's probably built on 20 other experiments that have decreased a metric that's built and 20 other learnings that have come from somewhere completely different that enabled us to get to that point, where do we get that huge win? So I think, I think that it's very good to start small in terms of getting people into experimentation, but really understanding that learnings and knowledge is what you've gained from experimentation rather than dollars. That's not the initial outcome at least.

Graham  05:06

What advice would you have for a business where experimental culture isn't part of what they do, but they're engaging with an agency or an external business that has that as part of the way they do things? And they potentially have two different versions of what success looks like. Ultimately, you would want to bring the company that doesn't have it closer to the company that does that. Is there sort of, you know, any advice on how to bring those two people closer together faster?

Luke Frake  05:37

Yeah, I think it's the same. If you have, there's two situations that are they're really the same here, you either have a company that doesn't have a culture of experimentation, you have a say, an agency that do or at the same time, you can have a company that doesn't have a culture, and you can have an internal CRO team that do. And that,  that's something I've seen all sorts of different places, throughout my time. And it that is the bit that's hard, that's very hard to do, being being the small trying to change the big in these situations is very hard to do. But it definitely can be done. And I think one of the one of the techniques that I would say is really good for this is trying to get some common ground trying to get some commonality, really try to, you know, as the experimentation side, really trying to understand what are the goals and key metrics that the rest of the business, the rest of this company, whatever it is, are really trying to achieve? And how can we explain how experimentation can help us get there. So for instance, if you've got say, you know, say some engineering team that might necessarily not want to run experiments, they think it's a waste of product time explaining how small iterative experiments can actually help them do more more work in the long run, because what they deploy will be more valuable. If you've got a, I don't know, a marketing team who are really focused on their average order value, explaining how using experimentation and failing a few times can help kind of increase that. And therefore it will, it will make all of their metrics at the top of the funnel look much better. So I think that that's something that I've seen people fall into traps with before is always explaining experimentation is like number of experiments running. And not necessarily talking that kind of common language, that, that that piece of truth, if you'd like that everybody can kind of get on board with and agree with.

Shelley  07:18

From your experience, then it's, it's about the process. And by the sounds of it, it's also to do with context. So you can zoom in as close as you like to one particular experiment. And if that fails, it can essentially freak people out, right? Particularly if you don't have data to back it up, or you know, it doesn't, you don't have the learnings that you can apply, necessarily. But actually, if you step back and zoom out and appreciate the fact that that's part of this huge, huge context of all these other tests that are running these experiments that are running that are actually supporting, you know, a much, much broader end goal, then that's kind of the perspective that you're getting at. But I suppose from the from the angle of being data driven, you know, to try and influence leadership to change that culture. How do you do that? You know, when it's such a such a complex ecosystem?

Luke Frake  08:12

Yeah, I think, I think that's the hard bit because like you say, if you focus on a single experiment, as soon as you get your first failure, quote unquote, failure, you're in the position then where people, people don't understand the process, I think what you start to be able to do though, is you start to join up into stories, take that example a second ago, you know, we have a huge weigh in on one experiment, don't tell that story on its own don't signal that one experiment that was hugely successful out, you need to tell the story from the beginning, you need to explain the journey. And we did this, we tried this, and it didn't work. But what that taught us was x y z. So we compounded that on the experiment again, and again and again. And what we had at the end was this huge win. So make sure when you're telling your stories about how you got to this, you know, this, this, when at the end, you include that journey of pains and frustrations along the way, because realistically, that is the journey, that that's what happened. And that's how you start to get people away from this fear of failure, because they understand that nothing, you know, no failure is without learning, and we can move forward and take that into kind of the next and the next and the next and come up with something much better.

Shelley  09:16

Because we tend to understand the research process in an academic setting, you know, we get it and we go, Okay, leave the scientists to it, it's, you know, it's an iterative process, but then applying that mindset, within a business setting. It's sort of like, you know, we're not we're not joining, joining the dots fully. So I think that is such a brilliant explanation to actually say, you know, you need to look at the whole thing and don't even your own, how we present our own successes. We need to be, you know, more honest about it so that people actually understand that we're not undercutting ourselves, it makes perfect sense.

Luke Frake  09:50

Absolutely. I mean, we we so for instance, on our side, we have all of our experiments when they concluded they go into our knowledge base, and that's something that Spotify we share around the entire company everyone can see, that isn't just a pot of winning experiments, that is a pot of experiments that were run successful experiments, inconclusive experiments, failed experiments, because that is the learning. And we really push that as well.

Graham  10:13

So once you've got all the information, how do you get it out into kind of the wider teams on the wider business to get sort of other people excited about what's happening? Because having the information in a single place is one thing, but how do you get people to engage with it?

Luke Frake  10:25

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that's, that's one of the most important parts of a CRO team, or in any kind of experimentation team, but often one of the hardest things to do, or most overlooked things to do. So for us, we, all of our analysis is compiled into some kind of deck. So each experiment has its own deck associated to it. And then that is contains all of the analysis and kind of all the details for that experiment. And then what we'll do after that is, if we, in this example, we have kind of a story of experiments, we might create something that's bigger that contains that whole story. So you can see you can drill down into the snippet into the singular, or you can kind of see the bigger, but having these things is only one part of it, right? If we have 1000 decks for the 1000 plus experiments that people run, then who's reading them and who's looking into them. So there's a few things we'd like to do around that. One is just sharing it as broadly as possible. So using kind of internal communication channels like email, or Slack, or Teams, or Workplace, or anything else that people are using, just to make sure that there's like a constant stream of this information being shared out to people, but also doing more, doing more like in person or virtually in person sessions, where you have people presenting these ideas, and really opening up to the floor of this isn't just me taking these ideas and giving them to you, this should be conversational. Challenge, the outcomes, challenge the questions like let's continue this learning and continue, there's bits and pieces of like, how can we improve, because out of those sessions, then you really start opening people up to there is no one right? That's all continually challenge and ask questions, which gets you back to kind of improving the overall culture and pushing those bits and pieces forward. So I think, trying to play as many channels as possible, but also trying to talk directly to people as well. And getting those outcomes is the best way to kind of disseminate that information.

Shelley  12:10

Well, definitely, I guess people in their different roles, respective roles within a business, they will have a completely different perspective of that business. And so to be able to voice their ideas, their questions and challenge exactly what you've been talking about experimentation, different learnings, is a way to enrich that process and also get them buying in to the whole to the whole process behind it.

Luke Frake  12:35

That's it. And I mean, that part earlier on trying to understand people's metrics, having those conversations opens up to that, because when you can say to somebody, this experiment has reduced the bounce rate of this page, and you can literally have the conversation, somebody can ask, well, what does that do for this metric that I care about, then you can start to explain it, you learn what they're interested in. And you can also explain kind of the joint between the two. So it just helps continue that process of conversation around experimentation, which ultimately leads to a better culture internally for experimentation to so I think it's very cyclical.

Shelley  13:05

Absolutely. And a better culture overall, when people are collaborating, communicating. So surely, that's part of how you also get senior leadership excited about this process as well.

Luke Frake  13:15

Exactly. Yeah, spot on.

Shelley  13:16

Luke, thank you so so much of your time, is there anything else in terms of tips and insights that you think people listening might be able to apply?

Luke Frake  13:25

I think I hope the main thing that people take from this is to is to communicate too many times that I go into different companies like when I when I was working within the agency, or when I'm working in companies and different teams aren't communicating. So I really hope the one main thing people take from this is talk to other teams, don't don't be that standalone silo, talk to your agency, talk to the team in your business, whatever it is, understand what people are thinking and how these different bits and pieces work and how they can come together to be something better than the sum. That's that's my main takeaway.

Graham  13:55

And that's good advice overall. So to be honest, outside of experimentation, we encourage everybody to talk to each other because it's, it's always those things that come up in surveys when you know, people ask about business satisfaction and employee engagement. Communication is always the thing that comes up is something that needs work on so yeah, we'll take that. Thank you.

Luke Frake  14:17

Most welcome. Yeah, most most welcome,

Shelley  14:19

Luke. It has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for your time today, I know that this is going to be an episode that people can really really learn from. It may be a case of I imagine there will be loads of questions off the back of it. So I'm sure we'll get you back for a follow up episode at some point in the near future.

Luke Frake  14:37

Awesome. Lovely speaking to you, Graham and Shelley, thank you so much for your time. We really enjoyed it. Thank you.

Graham  14:41

That was experimentation and user growth lead at Spotify, Luke Frake. By shifting our mindset and not looking at experimental failures as failures, but more as learnings and then sharing them with the wider business in an open discussion, we're able to fully utilise the benefits of experimentation within our business. And remember, communication is everything. Thank you for joining us for this episode of 15 minutes with we look forward to having you along for the next one.


15 Minutes With Ged Zalys | Podcast Episode #7

In our seventh episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Ged Zalys. Ged is a Commerce Delivery Lead with Accenture.

Ged has years of experience working within the world of commerce both in Europe and Asia. We talk to him about the rise of Live Commerce and how China is well ahead of the curve and leading the pack in its adoption. We ask him what its potential is for in the western market, what things businesses should consider before attempting it and what a business will need to implement in order to do it correctly.

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Graham  00:13

Today on 15 minutes with we're talking to Ged Zalys from Accenture. Ged has years of experience working both in the European and Asian markets, and we talk to him about live commerce and how China is adopting it. We ask him what its potential is like for the Western market, what things businesses should consider before attempting it, and what businesses need to be able to implement it correctly.

Shelley  00:35

Ged you spent a bit of time in Asia during your time with Accenture, are you able to tell us a little bit about the trends that you are seeing emerging from Asia with respect to social commerce and live commerce.

Ged Zalys  00:46

I think what is happening in Asia, it's a little bit like people do have a perception at least like you know, many that I speak to have a bit of a perception still, that's you know, China is still the posters from Shanghai of the 1940s, you know, is that the big like beautiful buildings with curly roofs as well. But that's really like farthest from from the truth, because right now, it's closer to sci fi movies that we watch, when you're working across Shanghai, or if you even in Beijing, or Hong Kong, as well as the tall high rises, then you can be walking across the city and you will see a flying QR code above your head that has been created with with the drones as well that you can take your phone and scan it and get taken to a website or to download the game or to see some sort of features. So really, the technology is everywhere, you could be sitting in there underground stations and going on a train and instead of looking out the window and seeing just a tunnel, there is a screen that is giving you advertisements or telling some sort of a story as well. So it's very much closer to science fiction than what a normal traditional perception might be. When I think when it comes to a bit more in the in our space in the commerce space. And in social areas. And in live commerce as well, we see businesses taking a completely different take on solving that problem. Like traditionally, in Europe, and in the West, as well, we have a very clear distinction between the video platforms between the commerce platforms and social platforms in China is not really the case, they kind of blur it all together and put it all into one. Which is in turn creates a lot more complexity in order to achieve this successfully. But at the same time, it delivers that unified customer experiences that that customers get. And I see this really like, you know, becoming the predominant example. For example, there is a brewers called Snow beer. And these guys are do they were selling a lot of a lot of beverages before COVID head and I think COVID was a very brilliant example like, you know, how they dealt with and use social commerce and how it helped to accelerate. So in their case, they realise that hold on a second, people are not going into the bars, they're not going, you know, not really socialising, how are we going to sustain our business and let alone improve it, but they actually sold over 400 million extra beverages that they would normally do. And the way they done it, they didn't realise that. But essentially, they got WeChat mini programmes. So this is like, you know, to the to our western audiences. WeChat is pretty much our Facebook, YouTube and other things combined. And they have these little mini programmes that allows businesses to create their own unique representation of them, but yet, you are still within the same ecosystem of WeChat. And they created this mini programme to enable and they called it a nano influencers because they realise when there was a limitation added during the COVID, you could only have 10 people or so meeting together. So all of that regular venues and campaigns that they've done in the past, it was really a little bit out the window. And that's not gonna work and before but hold on a second people are still meeting the meeting in groups of 10. And I think like every single group has got a person that is that, you know, motivate that he organises he or she organises gets people together. And for them, it was very much of like, like, why don't we let these people do it, like, you know, they want to go out, they still want to organise it. So let them you know, be able to choose COVID safe places where they can invite their friends, they can order and pre booked drinks that is like going to be catering for 10 people. So that concept of nano influences commerce, which is was part of the social commerce was invented. And that just became a boom of Snow beer, which was like four Super X brand initiative.

Graham  04:25

So that all sounds amazing, and certainly something that I would love to experience. But how do we pick up kind of what they're doing in Asia and bring it into the West, say the UK into Europe without kind of having to reinvent the entire wheel and use what we already have.

Ged Zalys  04:41

Kind of going to step back a little bit and think about you know, in order to answer this question, I think the reason why it's happening right because like you know why social commerce is happening and how it's applicable for Europe as well that the decision making power has shifted from brands to the consumers. That's the fundamental shift of why social commerce is coming into the picture. And instead of businesses focusing on their objectives now what businesses have to do is start focusing on customer satisfaction. And I think that's one of the fundamental changes that is driving it. And in order for us to get there, and I think like, you know, the other reason being of why that is happening, businesses are starting to look to diversify their revenues. And the reason is that traditional ads no longer really work the same as they used to, especially with all of the GDPR policies being created data privacy regulations as well, that we keep on hearing about and the traditional methods of identifying our customers, making sure that the content is as personalised as it can be, is not as effective as it used to be. That's what we're seeing. But if you are staying within the same platform, oh, and using the social platform, you kind of don't have to deal with that the content is within it, you letting the platform providers disord these areas out for you. And then the way you positioning us like a one step closer, in addition to that, I think customers they behaviour is changing, you know, you have the entire Gen Z'd that is now coming of age and they have a buying power, people are also looking for sustainability and the products that are sustainable. And finally, 87% of consumers in in E commerce shopping, believe the social media help them make shopping decisions, like as I see this personally. And when I speak to friends as well, you know, people complain about ads, but I see many people are like, I wouldn't know what is new out there if I didn't get advertised to and I like personalised ads and like some people are completely okay, that, you know, their data is being used to give them tailored experience as well. So it's 87% of people that actually think that way of the latest statistics. So there is a huge case in order to get to that point. But I think the problems we're trying to solve and like what we need to consider before we get to that is whether we have our business definition in place. What social commerce means to your business really, like in in a sense, it's a new channel, and usually the new channels, they're not adopted as fast as you would, it's not like it doesn't happen overnight. If you started if you always be where brick and mortar becoming digital takes a lot of time. So you have to define what social commerce is giving to your business. I think that's that's the number one step of recognising the importance of it, and then is really the value of case, right. There's like, you know, what opportunity size is there from the social commerce? What's my return of investment, because it's not going to come in like overnight, you have to actually put some funds behind it and let it nurture it and let it grow until that happens to let it grow and being nurtured that is part of your go to market strategy as well. You know, how are you going to change your business model? Where are you going to sell? What exactly are you going to sell in order to activate your social commerce. And then finally, I would say is like another entity that comes in that is most probably is not very intuitive immediately to existing businesses that are not doing social commerce, you have to have partners, you know, you have to have influencers or KOL's (key opinion leaders) in order to promote your brand. And like when it goes back to KOL's, it shows that five times the number of impressions and engagements are generated for every dollar spent on influencer market as compared to pay ads. So when it comes to influencers, it's a fundamental piece to get it right, in order to get that scaling.

Shelley  08:23

Ged that is really, really interesting. I love those stats, because they are key business considerations when it comes to actually getting this started. And like you said, pulling those trends out of what we're seeing in Asia, not having to reinvent the wheel completely, but being able to apply it in other settings like in the UK. So aside from all of those points that you touched on those considerations for getting started, like the business strategy, the plan of where you're actually going to get started with us in terms of platforms, and in terms of influencers? Are there any obvious markets that you think this is really best applied to?

Ged Zalys  08:54

You know, I'm going to be fair with this is like if you're trying if you're thinking of selling something outside of apparel, footwear, beauty jewellery, or CPG in general, right, I don't think it's an area it's a suitable area because think about your audiences and think about like, you know, who is using these platforms and how relevant it will be in your reach as well. So my take on that is if you're in apparel, footwear, beauty, jewellery, or CPG, social commerce is for you otherwise, it still needs some time I guess to mature

Shelley  09:25

So fast moving consumer goods are really where it's at for social commerce and for live commerce, and then just give it some time from there and then most of the other industries and other markets starting to adopt it potentially if it's suitable

Ged Zalys  09:36

Yeah, like, you know, that's that's would be my initial recommendation, because these are tried and tested industries and we seen them flourish when they attempted this approach. Other industries we haven't seen so many success studies, but it doesn't mean that that's not the case. There are three different approaches to this. There is direct you know, where where you actually go into the platform such as Facebook Instagram, right and you start uploading your product and selling it. That's direct. Then there is a affiliates, and affiliates is one I mentioned about the KOL's, they are advertising on your brand, or actually an affiliate unaffiliated selling people just essentially like, you know, shouting and screaming about how great your product is. Then you see this demonstrated really well in Michaud and AliExpress. And then the final one is the community and the community is more of a peer to peer platforms. You can achieve this in Facebook marketplaces that other better examples would be like Groupon or deal share in India. And I really like that there is a use case of KFC where they use the community in order to do the selling. So their approach was very much of a in Chinese customers riot is usually translated almost customer is the boss and KFC was thinking, you know, what if we actually make customer, the boss, so again, they want to WeChat mini programmes and they created an application that allowed you to sell your own chicken. So essentially, it's for you to advertise to your friends, you get a commission and every purchase that is being made is essentially profiting you. So you are becoming almost like a reseller of KFC, but not technically, you know, people would go in back to KFC stores and pick up the chicken are getting delivered that you becoming the kind of an owner of your own store and you reselling it and they created 2.5 million KFC pockets stores in just 120 days. So going back to your initial question of what is the potential of other industries stepping into this day, you know, traditionally we would be thinking so after considering these three approaches, right, there is about some of them such as Facebook, right, where you're uploading your product, and you allowing to see how it's happening, you don't need to spend too much investment into your other technologies to support it. It's kind of like a testing and planning and seeing whether it gets activated and you do A/B testing with this, you see how people are reacting with this, then you have to put like a breaking point that this is go or no go depending on your hypothesis. So you create your usual scientific method, you create a hypothesis of what you want to achieve in the next few months. And you do this trial and error almost run to see how well it's performing on the given platform. And if so, after two months, you should be starting to think about how is this going to integrate into the rest of your ecosystem. If you are new to selling in general, if you been in a brick and mortar store and haven't gone digital maybe that's it said, you just focus on that channel and you grow it. But if you already got an existing digital presence and E commerce store as well, then you might want to start considering how the orders captured are going into your order fulfilment process. So you can scale and utilise the same operations that you have done used in the past from your digital presence and your store now serving the customers that are coming in from the social commerce channel as well. So hopefully this just gives a little bit more context, Shelly? Absolutely. Thank you so much for that, Ged.

Graham  13:01

So you've given us a tonne of information around kind of how to think about this and what you should be considering when you're implementing it. And you know, is it right for your business? Are there any other tips or insights or learnings that you've got for people that really genuinely want to consider social selling as a potential channel for them that kind of as a, you should probably think about this before you start.

Ged Zalys  13:21

I think it's an important one to pick up. It's great when you think about new channels to reach your customers and there's always like, you know, a profit that can be added but at the same time, there is a risk of that it could potentially could start cannibalising your ecommerce website. The traffic from your e commerce website that you have today might be diverted into the social commerce traffic and the core digital experience might differ as well, which is not always the bad thing is like if you keep the customers in the same environment, think about it. Sometimes when you think you forgot something in a different room, and you go back to that room and you forget completely why you came to the room that's almost like you know, that's how human brain works a little bit is that you know, when you change your environment, your brain kind of resets and it's like okay, so something new must be happening and you forget what was the purpose of you to come come in back there. So there is a value of like actually keeping the customers on a single channel instead of like no flipping them back and forth. And then you are building your social audiences and there is a huge value in it. There is a new reach like you know, acquiring new customers is a lot harder than nurturing existing ones. However, social commerce is giving you that ability to reach out to completely new customers where you can continue focusing on nurturing your existing customers and your E commerce and acquire the new customers from your social channels. And I think you know, finally I just want to kind of add on to few more points that people are starting to think in different ways like you know, how it differs from your traditional e commerce websites and your social commerce. People traditionally are used to looking for customer reviews in order to help them make a decision in order to buy it but with social commerce now it's customer reviews and influencer reviews as well, then we go into a different component of product comparisons, right? So people used to just put them side by side and see which one is better. But now with social commerce, you might be actually relying on your friends opinion on what they really think about it.

Shelley  15:17

Ged, thank you so much for your time today. All of the insights from what you've seen firsthand all the way through to what you would recommend for businesses and ultimately for the end user when it comes to social and live Commerce. Thank you so so much.

Ged Zalys  15:30

Thank you guys. It was really lovely being here. I hope that helps.

Graham  15:33

 Thanks. Yeah. And we look forward to having you on again in the future.  That was Ged Zalys from Accenture. Social Commerce opens you up to new audiences in channels where they love to spend more of their time. And when using in conjunction with influencers and key opinion leaders makes discovery of your products easier. It may not yet be for everyone. But for those that can, it's a new channel that when well considered and implemented can drive engagement and meet the changing needs of customers. Thank you for joining us for this episode of 15 Minutes With we look forward to having you along on our next one.


Why Removing Elements from a Page is Better for User Experience and Conversions

When it comes to user experience and conversions, less is often more. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of removing elements from a page to improve the user experience. Too often, businesses focus on adding features to their website to solve problems or improve conversions. However, this can often have the opposite effect – coining the term "feature bloat." Feature bloat occurs when a website or product has too many features, which can lead to confusion, a study by Forrester Research found that every additional field on a form decreases conversions by 11%. By removing elements that are not essential, you can simplify the page and make it easier for users to accomplish their goals. So why is it that businesses are so focused on adding features?

The Human Instinct

Because businesses are full of humans and fall foul to human bias'. When humans are posed with a new problem they are much more likely to consider solutions that add features rather than remove them. This is a cognitive bias known as the Availability heuristic. The availability heuristic dictates that humans judge the probability of an event by how easily examples come to mind. So when presented with a problem, our first thoughts are of solutions that add features because they're more available to us.

Removing features or elements in an application is a lot easier than adding features. It's also less risky. So why don't we do it more often? The answer is twofold: first, we don't like to give up features that we've spent time and money building; and second, humans are bad at estimating the value of something that isn't there. This is known as the sunk cost fallacy. The sunk cost of preexisting features is a huge hurdle for businesses to overcome. We conduct existence testing with our clients to ensure each feature of an application or website is earning its keep!

 

Think Differently

Then what can we do to make sure we're not missing out on high-performing but low-effort solutions? We need to be aware of our biases and make a conscious effort to consider all potential solutions, even those that seem counterintuitive. This can be difficult, especially when time is tight, but it's important to take the time to explore all possible options before settling on a solution.

Having strong and objective prioritisation frameworks is great support. You can build in point weighting for solutions by removing elements. This will help you to compare and contrast different types of solutions more objectively.

There are some great examples from companies where removing features can have a massive impact. 

 

Learn From Others

Slack and their "Remote Screen Control" feature. This enabled users to take control over the screen and interact with the applications the host is sharing. 

“Slack ultimately decided to kill this feature. First, it was a niche feature, with relatively low adoption, which was not strategically aligned with the long-term goals of the company. Second, there was a high cost and complexity with maintaining it, especially as we were working through a re-architecture of the front-end.” Fareed Mosavat – VP of Programs and Partners, Ex-Director Product Growth at Slack

We run lots of experiments removing features, as mentioned previously Existence testing. One of the more recent ones for P&O Cruises is the removal of the sticky header. Sticky headers are when the main menu and other elements are fixed to the top of the screen as you scroll down. They are in vogue and are considered best practices in some industries. We found that the sticky header was impacting customers negatively, fewer people were progressing through the journey and purchasing the products significantly! Users were 1.3% more likely to progress through the journey. Our takeaway from this is to consider the value of a sticky header when selling complex products and test everything!


15 Minutes With Lucy Hall | Podcast Episode #6

In our sixth episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Lucy Hall. Lucy is a Lead Trainer with Meta and the founder of the hugely influential Digital Women Community.

Lucy's interests are in the social space with a particular interest on training events and community building. Lucy is also the founder of a number of industry events, conferences and awards.

Lucy shares her knowledge on helping others to navigate the social selling sphere on a regular basis. Her experience in delivering curriculums and appealing to users to come together to find a social voice is second to none.

On the episode, Lucy shares her knowledge and offers tips, insights and advice on community building and community management.

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Shelley  00:13

Today lead trainer at Meta, Lucy Hall is joining us on 15 minutes with. Lucy's interests are in the social space with a particular interest on training events and community building. Lucy is also the founder of a number of industry events, conferences and awards, and she is the founder of the hugely influential Digital Women community. Lucy shares her knowledge on helping others to navigate the social selling sphere on a regular basis. Her experience in delivering curriculums and appealing to users to come together to find a social voice is second to none.  Lucy Hi, Welcome.

Lucy Hall  00:53

Hi, Shelly. Thanks for having me.

Shelley  00:55

What I wanted to ask was how through your training experience, you have found that communities have an appetite for connection online?

Lucy Hall  01:03

I think people have always had an appetite for connection. And people have always had an appetite for community, because communities are the things that binds people together through mutual interests or problems that they have. And through the training that I've done, I've been able to reach out to lots of different audiences by training them, because essentially, I'm able to train people on digital skills for free through the Meta programme as a lead trainer. And I found that people are really happy to go on that training and learning journey together. So the communities that I run are people who have a big appetite for digital skills, but also connection as well. So together, it means that they're able to learn and then talk to each other about what they've learned and share skills with each other. So when they learn something, or they know something, they're able to share their experiences. I think through the pandemic, it highlighted even more how much people will need that connection. And we had a big explosion of online communities, even bigger than we already had. And you can even see that Meta was increasing its communities programme as well. So they were really putting a lot of importance into communities. Because there was already some great growth through groups, which are to different Facebook pages, because you're just, you know, advertising to an audience. I think the appetite for online connection is absolutely huge. And it's growing every single day.

Shelley  02:25

What I really what I find really, really interesting about that is how you say these communities often have quite a few interests in common. Could you tell us a little bit about how communities differ to audiences, when it comes to brands?

Lucy Hall  02:39

I think there's a big misconception about building a community, because people think when you have lots of followers on social media, it means that you then have a community. But that's absolutely not true. A community is something completely different. And audience is people who are watching you following you. And they want to know what you're up to and what you're doing. And a community is a group of people that are connected together by like I was saying before, when your first question by a common interest, or a common problem. And so therefore, they are able to connect and talk to each other in a different way that feels more natural and not very forced. The person who started the committee doesn't always have to be there when you have a community because people talk to each other because they're interested in the same thing. Whereas with an audience is a little bit more difficult to get that going. You can build communities that have audiences, because they may be interested in the same thing. But of course, two completely different things.

Shelley  03:31

And so people can come and go, and they can move in and out of communities, where audiences, it's sort of presumed that once you lose someone, you kind of lose them to a competitor, so to speak. But in a community, that particular community might only serve a certain short period of time for that person's experience. So it might be for example, a new mothers group, it's expected that you're only going to be part of that group for a period of time. And you might tap into that community again, in the future if you have another child. But it's not going to be a lifelong membership.

Lucy Hall  03:59

Yeah, absolutely. I think essentially, we're all part of lots of different communities. If you think about how many different communities you're part of a different parts of your life might be that you're part of a community, that's for local residents in your area like Canterbury for example. Or you might be part of a community where you have an interest in sewing. And it just means that you can talk about those interests with other people who are interested in the same thing. And you're not necessarily waiting for the community leader to say something or the brand to say something, you're actually just talking amongst yourselves. Of course, the community leader is always there to ask questions and stoke the fire, if you like, to get people chatting with each other. If you're a brand trying to build a community, you would think about what's the common thing that binds all of these people together? What is the thing they're really interested in and people like Red Bull do it really, really well, if you think about it. Because Red Bull have this brand where it's all about sport and energy and excitement and then they create these events around that. And as part of that they have this amazing community.

Graham  04:58

That's an interesting topic actually, because Red Bull a few years ago completely changed their marketing model away from selling product to selling experience.

Lucy Hall  05:06

Yeah.

Graham  05:06

And it's about producing content that people can engage with and like you say, putting up these events and setting them up, and I guess is a brand going to have more success if they approach a community in that way, rather than approaching the community and kind of slapping up a billboard and going, Hey, by the way, we have a whole bunch of products that we think might be appropriate, and we want to sell them to you kind of like they do with an audience, is it better for a brand to invest in how do we support the community so that an association is created between the support was given to us by X, and as a result, we are more likely to support them because of the good that they've done for us, rather than a brand turning up and going, we'll send you samples, because we just want to get our product into people's hands.

Lucy Hall  05:47

I think people are pretty savvy, especially if you're within a community. And if a brand suddenly comes in and says buy my thing, you know, they're gonna know that they're just being monetized. And I think, however, if a brand comes in and works with the community leader, or creates a community, where actually the centre of this community is about building a community, and just fostering that connection between people, I think people are going to see that brand in a better light and potentially going to buy from them anyway. But I think that's the whole thing around social media as well, isn't it and social media marketing, when people are just blatantly selling stuff, you're less likely almost to buy something straight away. But once you've built up that trust, and that almost that community, or that audience of people who really love you, and really  love being part of what what you have, being part of the community, then they're more likely to go when they're ready to buy, you're going to be front of mind, aren't you? I think that's normally how it works. However, I do feel like brands could be working with community leaders in a different way. So now a lot of brands work with influencers. And literally, they just send them products, or they ask them to talk about the product or sell the product, which is great, because the influencers already have a community lots of time, they have a following rather than a community. But there is space for a brand to go into actual communities, and work with the community leader to create training programmes or to create experiences, like you're talking about with Red Bull to help those communities in some way rather than than blatantly trying to sell them products.

Graham  07:14

And I suspect it's probably quite important as well that the brand shares the values of the community shares. And then there's not an obvious disconnect between we're just going to find the communities with the biggest numbers of people.

Lucy Hall  07:26

Yeah.

Graham  07:27

Like you say people are savvy and they can see through obvious attempts at kind of flattery, were it particularly isn't warranted.

Lucy Hall  07:34

Oh, absolutely. The way I go about partnerships for our communities, our communities going to 70,000 women over the last couple of years. And it really accelerated during the pandemic. And the way that we approach partnerships is that we normally get them to provide content or educational content to our community, because they want education, they want to learn about digital skills. And so if I can bring someone in that wants to teach our community about digital skills, by association, they're going to want to use their products when they're ready for anyway without saying buy my product, because they've now we've created this amazing content that people can watch over and over again or live, they can ask questions whenever they want. And the community see the brand in this great light, they love them. And when they're ready for the tool, or the digital products, they're going to use it because they feel like they've connected with that brand. And they feel like that brand is not just somebody who's partnered with the community, but part of the community as well. And I think that's really important. The brand shouldn't be this brand who's coming in and just selling stuff or talking about stuff, they should be part of the community and feel like they're part of the community as well. And whoever that may be within the organisation should be in there like talking to people and engaging,

Graham  08:39

That's important so that the community sees more than the brand, they see the individual that's representing the brand, because we all know that people trust people you don't trust kind of faceless organisations. The people are inside. So I think that that  you're right, you've got to have people that represent the brand in the community, but they should be known for who they are first and who they work for second.

Lucy Hall  09:04

Yeah absolutely.

Shelley  09:05

And I like how you sort of drew that comparison between how a brand might tap into an influencer to sell a product for a short space of time and have nothing to do with that audience before or after, and how in community, it doesn't work that way. The brands that integrate themselves really well aren't actually trying to actively sell something for the here and now they are trying to involve himself in the ongoing conversation of that brand. But another point that you kind of touched on which I just want to dive a tiny bit deeper into if you don't mind, is how you have all of these different people as part of a community and how if you are involved in in trying to either establish or manage or run a community, how you balance differing levels of skill sets, that kind of thing. So for example, you're offering training so how do you manage such a big community? When you have people with skill set level zero and skill set level 10 At the same time, how do you keep that in in one community?

Lucy Hall  10:00

it is quite hard because obviously you've got different people at different levels. So when you're sharing content that's like, you know, how do you create a customer persona and that kind of thing. It's quite entry level, something that most marketers or digital marketers, people in digital would know about. But then if you're from a different discipline, in digital, you're very technical, you wouldn't possibly have to look at that side. And you might be interested in it, you want to change career, and you want to understand different elements of digital. So there is content for everyone. But the way it's managed is that we ask people to share their own skills. So rather than me as the trainer coming in and sharing my knowledge, we ask everybody to come and share their knowledge, which means we have kind of a skill sharing community. So it becomes not just a place to pick up a training course from digital women as such, it becomes a place where everybody can share their skill. And what that means is that people who already have these great skills have an opportunity now to show that they are knowledgeable. And I think that's really, really important. And especially for women, because it's often known that we have imposter syndrome, and we are less likely to be on panels, and which is getting better now, especially digital and technology. Because five years ago, you wouldn't see any women or the technology or a digital panel would you. And so we're giving people the opportunity to be on the panel, to have their first speaking slot and that kind of thing, as well and share their knowledge and give them the confidence to do it in front of an audience whilst teaching other people in the community as well. So it's a really nice way to bring the community together.

Shelley  11:25

Oh, I love it. I love it. And so if you are the owner of a community are a custodian of the community, how does that work? If you're the person that set it up? And you're the one managing it? How do you allow it to have this life of its own, but also keep it on track, so to speak? Or how was that how was that process managed?

Lucy Hall  11:43

Look, it's really hard to create and manage your communities it's not that easy, you're gonna have different reasons for wanting to create one, some people could start a community because they want connection themselves. Some people start a community because in the back of their mind, they want to make sales or they they want to have a business from the from it. But whatever happens, it takes a lot of time to create a community. And when the community does kick off, and people start discussing amongst themselves and becoming this real kind of community, you'll find that you still have to be there to manage the community. So funding a community is really important. Understanding that it's your  community but you can't really own a community, it's not your community and lead a community if you can't own it, because the community will go off and have their own conversations. I mean, there's people within our community who already have their own subgroups where they talk to each other. And there, it all started from digital women, but now they have their own meetups, which I think is amazing.

Graham  12:33

You mentioned previously that you obviously we saw a spike in communities during the pandemic, which as you say is, you know, understandable, because people were kind of reaching out. But contact because we were all locked up inside, you got any tips for people to kind of keep those communities going, as we start to venture back out into our real worlds, right? We go out back to work, and you start to see family again. And that need for some people may be fulfilled in other ways. But there are still going to be a lot of people that are heavily dependent on the communities that have been brought up through this process. If you've got anything that you can suggest around, how do you keep that momentum going? How do you continue to grow the community as they move forward? And what point do you start to reach out and ask for help the concept of the moderator and people that kind of work within communities to make sure things are going forward?

Lucy Hall  13:17

I mean, there's a couple of questions there isn't there, there's the one about the moderators. And yeah, if your community is growing, you're gonna need more moderators. Because it takes time, the best moderators are the people who are the most active, because they're there anyway, they love it, they normally policing it, they're normally letting people know if they've said something or done something wrong. Anyway, literally the best people and you can trust them, because they're so integrated into the community. It's such a big part of their life, that they're the people that you want, and you can definitely trust them. So you would, you know, make them moderators. And to do that you should just have a set of guidelines, and have a set of almost rules about what's acceptable, what's not acceptable and give it to them. And it's, again, you're not paying them. So you might want to offer some kind of incentive or something like that, say that you'll out their picture on the website or put their picture up as the moderator of the community. Normally, that's enough, because they love the community so much. They want to share everyone's part of it. And the other question was, how do you keep the community alive? How do you keep the community going? I think at first, like I said, you do have to put a lot of work into the community, she had to get the right people into the community, and then other people have to be able to share the community. But generally, I think you do have to create content. As a community leader, you have to create content that is engaging, that ask people questions that bring people into the community to talk to each other. And you'd have to ask the community to invite other people who they think would enjoy being part of the community as well. That's how you grow it. And that's how you keep people engaging. So you can't just even when the community is created, and everybody's talking about whatever binds them together, you can't completely step back. You have to be there to get the conversation going sometimes.

Shelley  14:49

And so if you had any other tips and insights and advice, I mean, there are a lot of good insights just in that question that you wanted there, Lucy about how to grow it. How to keep people engaged and little tips about how you can go about those things. Is there anything else that you feel that we haven't touched on?

Lucy Hall  15:05

Yeah, I think I'm just going back to basics, like who is this person that is in this community? And what do they want? What do they like? How can we make sure that we're meeting their their needs? And how can we motivate them to keep joining in the conversation? I think that's really, really important. And again, making sure that your mission, you have a mission for the community, like what is this community? It might be just like the crafting community, for example, bringing people together, who love to craft and want to talk about it every day? What is the mission? Or why are you doing it? What do you want to achieve there? Knowing that it's really, really important, making sure you've got a set of guidelines for your community? What's acceptable, and what's not? Is this a safe space for people to be able to talk to each other? Can they share spam, you know, all of their products and services? Probably not. You need and people need to know all of that stuff. So before you even go to the community, put those things down on a piece of paper, and then talk to your community regularly and ask them what do they want? What is it that's connecting them, because when you know this information, you can grow the community even larger, I think the other thing is really important. If you're not a brand running community, you do have to find a way to fund it. So going out and looking for partnerships, and perhaps setting up a membership is really, really important. Otherwise, you'll burn out and you'll think what the hell am I doing all of this for.

Shelley  16:16

Lucy, that was all so, so amazing to hear. Thank you so much for all of that advice. I think for everybody listening, those are the things that they can actually go away in action, and they can start today, start writing things down and start getting a plan together. Thank you so much for your insight and your experience that you've shared with us today. It has been incredible.

Graham  16:32

Thank you for your time.

Shelley  16:34

That was Lucy Hall, lead trainer at Meta and founder of Digital Women. Lucy, thank you so much for your tips, your insights and your advice into the world of community building and community management. Certainly you touched on a few points that do indicate community is a bit of a dark art for a lot of people and a lot of brands. So we know that this podcast is going to be just so valuable to a lot of people and we cannot wait to have you again soon. For anybody interested please go ahead and join the Digital Women community that you can find on Facebook. And for all of you listening. See you next

Lucy Hall  16:34

Thank you.


Post Pandemic Shopping Behaviours Are Changing

eCommerce Market

In the USA alone, pandemic shopping saw the eCommerce market grow by over $219 billion. According to new data released by Adobe, channels within eCommerce that were adopted by shoppers during the pandemic (such as clothing, grocery, homeware etc) have maintained their levels post-pandemic.

This indicates that our buying behaviours have been changed for the longer term. Ease of shopping experience has remained vital, and the need for this has stuck. During the first wave of the global pandemic, these shopping behaviours saw a shift from completion on mobile to more completion on desktops.

But as the pandemic has passed, though the preference for eCommerce remains, the shift back to mobile is being noticed.

Klarna recently released a report that surveyed over 18,000 consumers in over 13 different countries. We look through it and see just how much things are changing.

 

Mobile Shopping Resurgence

Not only is the switch back to mobile resurging, but it has also overtaken its pre-pandemic usage rates. Some 9 in 10 UK consumers admit to using their phones to compare prices (90%) and look for the best deals or price promotions (94%), while 8 in 10 (78%) use them to search for shopping inspiration.

Image Credit: Klarna Insights

Shopping apps are becoming increasingly common, more than half of consumers (60%) have between one and five shopping apps installed on their device, although it is debatable whether this represents the best experience for users over the longer term.

The number of mobile apps people use regularly is on the decline, with the preference for marketplaces being favoured over single-branded commerce applications. 63% of UK consumers would prefer to have a single app that incorporates all aspects of their shopping journey, with 8 in 10 (79%) saying this would simplify their shopping experience.

These trends are also being seen across all generational age brackets - not just the Gen Z and Millennials.

 

Mobile Payments

Virtual cards are also on the rise, along with mobile banking and secure checkouts. Faster, more efficient checkout processes are an expectation of the modern mobile consumer. Anonymous shopping, secure shopping and insured transactions further strengthen the virtual payment offering.

Image Credit: Klarna Insights

 

Summary

Behaviours can change quickly. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and all the governmental restrictions that follow, and behaviours can change at scale very quickly. For brands with the expectation that these behaviours would naturally bounce back, consideration must be made for how certain habits have stuck and become preferred as the new norm.

Mobile shopping habits plummeted and resurged during the pandemic, but beyond the resurgence certain key elements of mobile shopping have changed. Types of experiences, purchases, pathways, and activities have fundamentally changed.

Image Credit: Klarna Insights

Arming yourself with the knowledge and the know-how to use these changes to your advantage is key to brands maintaining and improving upon their eCommerce successes post-pandemic.


15 Minutes With Ted Rubin | Podcast Episode #5

In our Fifth episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Ted Rubin. Ted is a leading Social Media Marketing Strategist, International Keynote Speaker, Business Advisor and Author.

In March 2009 he started using and evangelizing the term ROR, Return on Relationship, hashtag #RonR… a concept he believes is the cornerstone for building an engaged multi-million member database and engaged community, many of whom are vocal advocates for the brand.

Many people in the social media world know Ted Rubin for his enthusiastic, energetic & undeniably personal connection to people. He has been listed as #13 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, and number #2 on the Leadtail list of Top 25 People Most Mentioned by digital marketers… and most recently to the leadersHum Global Power list of the Top 200 Biggest Voices in Leadership for 2022. Return on Relationship, ROR, #RonR is the basis of his philosophy… It’s All About Relationships!

We ask Ted what exactly is Return on Relationship and why is it so important for your business.

 

More About Ted

His books are as follows: Return on Relationship 2013, How to Look People in the Eye Digitally 2015, The Age of Influence 2017, and the recently released Retail Relevancy, written along with business partner and Retail Thought Leader John Andrews. Learn more about Ted at TedRubin.com, ReturnOnRelationship.com, @TedRubin, and LinkedIn.com/in/TedRubin.

 

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Graham  00:14

On this episode of 15 Minutes With we're speaking with Ted Rubin. Ted is a leading social media marketing strategist, international keynote speaker, business advisor and author. In March 2009, he started using an evangelising, the term ROR, or return on relationship. A concept he believes is the cornerstone for building an engaged multi million member database and engaged community, many of whom are vocal advocates for the brand. We asked him what exactly is return on relationship? And why is it so important for businesses in the digital age?

 

Shelley  00:43

Ted, welcome to the podcast.

 

Ted Rubin  00:46

Shelly, thank you so much for having me, I'm so happy to join you guys.

 

Shelley  00:49

A pleasure to have you. And so you are the author of Return on Relationship and we would love to really get started on that and understand what you refer to as currency, measuring return on relationship as a currency,

 

Ted Rubin  01:02

I was working for a company called Elf Cosmetics. And it was in the early days, very early days of social media 2008. And the way this came about, I'm giving you a little more background here, just so you understand the whole return relationship thing was that I was building the social platforms, I immediately recognised that they were more about conversation than about marketing. I mean, I had an email list, we had banner ads, we had all the things we could be doing. But the owners of the company was so desperate to market to these people that they became my little domain and I protected it, not yet not ready, and they kept pushing. And finally, one day when they push hard enough, they said, why can't we market to these people yet, and I just blurted it out, I said, because it's not just about return on investment right now. Because in the end, it's about return on investment. It's about return on relationship. Simply put, it's the value that's accrued by a personal brand, due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value I like to say both perceived and real, that will accrue over time through connection, trust, loyalty, recommendations and sharing. And I worked really hard to use it to define and educate companies, brands and people about the importance of creating authentic connection, interaction and engagement. Just to wrap up what I just said about return relationship. I like to say that short and simple. If you're only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people don't make that mistake. If you don't know who your people are, and invest in those relationships, you might as well toss your branding, marketing and prospecting money down the drain. I think you mentioned this earlier, when we were talking, I like to say the relations on the most important currency, if you don't honour them, you're not going to be able to increase your ROI by wrapping ROR around it.

 

Graham  02:46

Before we came on, we watched your video on your website, and you talk about brands no longer being owned by brands and brand being owned by the consumer. And I think it's a really important point that kind of goes along the side of that because there is a drive for businesses that as soon as they've got access to someone who they presume wants to listen, the first thing they do is try and force a message down their throat. And it's generally sent up a sales message. And I don't think brands have quite understood that they're not in control of the conversation anymore. Relationships can be broken just as quickly as they can be built.

 

Ted Rubin  03:19

100%. What's different now is that we pick and choose where we see ads, how we engage with brands, it's incredibly easy to turn off advertising. to just ignore it. The problem is a brand has their marketing budget, they reach out, they get Graham's attention, they get his email address or some other way to communicate with them. And then they start banging him over the head again and again and again. Instead of recognising that they've got to continue nurturing this relationship the same way we do when we meet friends, or we meet people in business or anything else. We don't just, by the way, a lot of people just meet us and move on. And then six months later or a day later, a favour is asked instead of building that relationship, doing a little quid pro quo, doing something for someone without expectation of anything directly in return. And then knowing you're building a bank of returns, and brands need to understand that they can do the same thing. It's so easy for us to find a replacement. I am an Allbirds customer, you guys familiar with it? Okay, I love Allbirds. But if they mess up, there's 20 other choices out there. And one of the reasons I don't make that move is they don't do that to me. I feel that they do it really, really well. They provided me with an app, they made it really easy for me to find my content. You know what I've already bought in the past order something in the future. I periodically get an email when they have a new product, when something cool is coming out. I might get something that they have a special offer around the holidays because they know I might want to introduce my friends or family to the brand, but they don't constantly bang me over the head. Whereas I have other brands that I purchase things from and every day I get something from them and every day they're asking me to buy and I'm already a customer and how many pairs of sneakers do I need? I don't want to be retargeted. No human being likes being retargeted. No one wants to walk out of the store and be offered a coupon to walk back in. And if they do, you're training them to get that coupon. My business partner likes to say that they used to be brand loyal to pizza, but not anymore. His wife just wants to get the pizza from wherever they have the coupon from. I mean, I don't know about you. But I know a lot of people that I don't necessarily have time for it, but I do it sometimes. Go in, fill up your shopping cart, abandon it, you will immediately get something offering you a discount on the same thing you would just about to buy. Now Amazon doesn't do it, because they offer a lot more value. And they know their customers keep coming back, because they're so good to them. Because they really pay attention. And they deliver on time, and they take things back, but you go to Target.com, you abandon your cart, they're going to come after you.

 

Shelley  05:44

What I love Ted is the comparison between personal relationships and how those are nurtured, and professional relationships or relationships with the customer. Because it makes it easy for people to understand, right? Instead of thinking with this brand hat on, they can actually go oh, well, it's just the same as in real life, because it is still real life, what you said with all of those vouchers and coupon examples, what's also really interesting is not measuring the damage that we're doing with all of this kind of advertising that we're just bombarding people with, how would you say when discussing with business leaders, or empowering marketing, or any department for that matter, to speak to their leaders to encourage them to take this philosophy on board? How would you do that?

 

Ted Rubin  06:25

I try to get them to look at it from their own perspective to be a customer of their own brand. You know, I look at a CMOS and I go, Are you subscribing to your own emails? Are you visiting your brand and then surfing the web anonymously, not as your CMO not as who you are. And when I say anonymously, I don't mean to hide it from your employees? I mean, to hide it from the from the tracking that's going on in the web? Are you experiencing what your customers are experiencing? I mean, I look at marketers all the time, and ask them to behave more like customers, to think more like a customer. What works for you, you know, how do you feel about bright red subject lines with total nonsense that really isn't about how do you feel when you get to an offer? That is not what you saw in the subject line of your email, like, um, it's immediate delete and sometimes I'll get, look, I'm a human, I'll get drawn into clicking on something because it's an interesting subject line or something like that. Then I get there and I go, okay, they suckered me, I'm out, you know, and then I'm not just out, which is the way they look at it, they look at it as I'm just out, okay. He went in, he clicked through, he left there, I'm looking, I'm not only out I'm annoyed. And I'm that less likely to click on their links again in the future. And look, that was a really intrinsic part of email marketing in the past, I like to look at them and say, start thinking about instead of email marketing, think about it as me mail marketing, thinking about about me, what are you delivering to the consumer, you're the consumer. Brands experiment and a lot of brands are experimenting more than more, but a line that my business partner I like to use, and it's a big part of our book, Retail Relevancy is that simplicity is the new eDLP. eDLP is everyday low pricing, which is what Walmart made famous, we're not going to give you sales, we're always gonna have the best prices. What we're saying now is simplicity is the new eDLP. Make it easy for them, and they will buy from you again and again and again. And what is easy for the mean, it doesn't just mean checking out easily. It means make it easy that they don't have to go looking elsewhere and make it easy that when they want to return, make it simple, that when they have a customer service issue, they don't have to go searching the site to figure out how to speak to somebody or what to click on. I like to say, you know, people say oh my god, Amazon's made it impossible for other brands to grow and exist. I think in some ways, it's just the opposite. I agreed with that for a while. But right now, Amazon has led a pathway to new brands to understand how important ease of use and simplicity is and how important good customer experience is. Mostly, if I'm buying just a general product, I go to Amazon, if I see it in another place, I try to find it in Amazon because it makes my life easy. But I also work with a lot of small upcoming brands. I'm vegan, I get vegan meals from a company called Veestro. I'm going to exercise and I want to hydrate myself without all the garbage that goes into things like Gatorade. So I have a company called Hydrant. Both of these companies, and there's many more than I use are like monthly subscriptions. But if they make it incredibly easy to change your order, to put off your order, to delay your order. They email me every week before my order with four days ahead of time to say we're about to ship you we will be doing it next week. If you want to change that. Here's a link coming right now. I go in and click the link, there's a calendar, I pick a date I move. Now they've learned that from Amazon, they learn these ease of use things. They've learned these things. And then Amazon has also provided a platform with their cloud based services with other things to allow other companies to do these things. So yes, they've made it harder for certain companies, but I believe they lead the way for a lot of retailers by showing people how important a relationship is. Do you never see an ad from Amazon saying we care about you. No, they care about you. They're not saying it, they're doing it. Now granted you again There's a lot of naysayers. Well, they only care about because they're making money, fine. But the reason they're making money is because they do such a good job nurturing the relationship, taking things back, fixing things for you, when there's a problem. As we all know, there's a lot of third party sellers on Amazon, I've even when it says no returns, I've had Amazon take back a product for me, because they look at the lifetime value of me as a customer that I've been a customer since 1995. And then every time they raise my prime, I don't even blink, I just pay it and they see how much I buy from them. And of course, they have analysts that are saying, well, this is a single guy living at home looks like he's buying a lot of stuff from us, probably the majority of the things we're going to do right by him. And yes, a lot of that is data. But like I like another thing I talk about is you can't just rely on the data, you've got to apply judgement to your data.

 

Graham  10:47

And it's really interesting, because one of our most read articles that we've written as a business ourselves is actually titled Convenience is key for customer satisfaction. And it is continuously in the top five pages of our website that are visited. So the hope is the message is getting out there and people are understanding this. And businesses are not just looking at it, but they're doing something with it. And I think the other thing that is implicit in kind of everything you've said, is around the understanding of trust, because the businesses that are getting it right are taking the time to build the trust from their  customers so that when something goes wrong, there's no issues because implicitly we trust these people, and we know it will be dealt with. And we know that if they're going to send us a message, there's going to be some sort of value exchange as a result of it, which is why content is king. And the brands that are getting it wrong are taking trust and setting it on fire at the first opportunity they have for a quick return in the immediate

 

Ted Rubin  11:41

one of my favourite responses to these kinds of questions. When people ask me, what's the ROI? What's the ROI of ROR? What's the ROI of social is, I like to look back at them and ask them what's the ROI of trust and what's the ROI of loyalty. And both of those are the ultimate in anything that you're building as a business. Trust, because that means people are happy to do business with you and we'll do it on a regular basis. Loyalty means they're going to stand by you when things aren't perfect or when you need someone and I like I also tell brands in social media, when you make a mistake or somebody's criticising you, I always take a breath and wait a moment. Because usually if I'm getting criticised unfairly, one of my followers will come in and they will stand up for me. So I don't even have to say it. And I would say that happens 90% of the time, I believe this, brands tend to jump right in, they're so quick to defend themselves. They're so worried about something. But again, if you engage with people, if you answer their questions, if you're there for them, if you build that relationship, that return on relationship will come back as insurance for your brand.

 

Shelley  12:40

It's honest engagement, isn't it? It's not defensive engagement. And I think people are so clued up to that they can see it instantly is whether a brand is genuine or not. And I think a lot of that stems from, like you said, the trust that's been built or not built over all of the communications and all of the experiences that have passed and whatever that history might be.

 

Ted Rubin  12:58

Right, and I mean, again, it's amazing what you can get for an apology or not even an apology, don't you have to go that far, I made a mistake, okay, for someone that can't say I'm sorry, they can, a lot of them can say I made a mistake, or I misread that, or I didn't get it properly, I misjudged the situation. But unfortunately, very many are afraid to do that. And the brands that can get incredible advocacy from their customers because of that, and especially if they fix a situation that didn't work out, you know, or or even you made the mistake, but we're the brand, we're gonna stand behind it, we're going to help we know you ordered the wrong thing. You know, Amazon even orders now one of their choices, I ordered the wrong thing, you can still send it back, you know, those things are just really important. And I think it's what's allowed all of this digital sales and marketing and online sales and E commerce to happen because of that.

 

Shelley  13:47

Absolutely.

 

Graham  13:48

And if there was one thing that you could kind of give to the people listening to this podcast as a starting point, or a takeaway to kind of hit the road and start moving in this direction, what is that thing?

 

Ted Rubin  14:00

I'm going to give you two,

 

Graham  14:01

okay

 

Ted Rubin  14:02

they kind of relate to each other. So something that's real simple, easy to take away and keep in your head is that relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they become. And then number two is a network gives you reach, and that's your outreach, your email list, you get that network, you get a lot of people but a community gives you power. Networks connect, communities care. And when you build a community around your brand, you're going to exponentially get the value of that return on relationship because the people will be there to support you and support each other. And then if just some some immediate things that people can do is that I think people I think brands think it's too hard to communicate with customers. It takes too much effort. I think brands need to start empowering their employees to reach out and connect with people to stop worrying about are they going to say the wrong thing? Are they going to answer the wrong thing, you know, train them, train them on how to engage with people without necessarily saying no, or answering a question the wrong way. Just people want to be heard. And when they feel like they're saying somebody's there listening to them as simple as I hear you. And let me look into that. And I'd like to talk to my manager and get back to you. I mean, there's so many ways to do this where you don't have to give an answer, of course, then you do have to get back to the problem is that happens, and then you never hear back. But if you again, it's the same thing, when I get put on hold by certain brands, or I'm on a chat, and they say, give me a few minutes, I'm gonna come back there, I know, they're gonna come back, I know that if I wait there, I'm gonna get some value out of that. They're training me to have patience with them. And I'll get value out of that. So I just think companies need to start empowering their employees and allowing them to power the brand.

 

Shelley  15:37

Ted, it has been amazing talking to you. Thank you so so much for your time. I know that everybody listening, there are going to be loads of questions off the back of this. So I'm sure in future we're gonna have to have you back to do another episode, but it has been an absolute pleasure.

 

Graham  15:49

That was Ted Rubin, social marketing strategist, international keynote speaker, business advisor and author. Treating the relationships we have with our customers like we do with those in our personal life is key to building trust and loyalty. Following that with putting ourselves in their shoes and taking a look at our marketing messages ensures we're not eroding the trust we worked so hard to create and to continue to drive loyalty and remove the need for customers to look elsewhere, we need to ensure we are creating experiences built on convenience and ease of use. As Ted put it, Simplicity is the new everyday low pricing. Thanks for listening to this episode of 15 minutes with and we look forward to having you along on the next one.


What Happens When You Ignore Your Customers and Define Your Own Journey?

Necessary or Not?

Customer experience and ‘experience journeys’ are very topical in business at present. The common vein running through expert opinions is that a central focus on experience is key to good business practice. Understandably, it can get confusing when it comes to deciding upon whose advice to heed on achieving this in practice. Knowing your customers and giving them what they want is the crux of this philosophy. But what if you were to ignore all of the advice? What happens then? We take a look at some examples of when big brands have gone against the experience advice and how it panned out for them.

Is Ignorance Bliss?

If you are considering going against the grain, you’re not the first. Remember that Snapchat update? Its aim was to improve navigation and user journeys - but it didn’t include any user research. Changes included how stories were categorised, with friends, celebrities, brands and media messages being separated out instead of presented as one combined interface. Further changes also affected how content was presented on users timelines, where previously content was displayed chronologically, the updated version displayed content based on interaction levels.

 

The intent? Good. The result? Disastrous.

Snapchat stock lost $1.3 billion after Kylie Jenner, one of the most influential celebrities on the platform, tweeted about her frustrations with the changes. They lost 3 million daily users after this tweet.

A petition on Change.org was created by Snapchat fans to remove the app redesign, which achieved over 1.2 million signatures. But the response from Snapchat executives? They stuck to their guns. They believed that the update was necessary to expand Snapchat's user base. They insisted that the previous app design was confusing, and that this old format underserved older users and advertisers. In fact their CEO stated "Snap is doing the right strategic moves but needs to manage this process well".

 

 

Ambition Isn’t Enough

Facebook recently rebranded to Meta, in its unwavering belief that the future of the internet is in the Metaverse. But what if it’s wrong? What if people don’t want the Metaverse? Tidio recently released a survey showing that 77% of the sample population believes that the Metaverse will prove harmful to its users. Common concerns centred around addiction to the simulated virtual world (46%), privacy issues (41%), and mental health (41%). So early indicators would suggest that public opinion does not fall in favour of the move by Meta to push for such a future.

Facebook is dead - it just doesn’t know it yet”.

- Jared Brock
Image Credit: Jared A Brock.

Still, Meta executives show such steadfast dedication to a future that users say they do not want. Their new values of “move fast”, “build awesome things” and “live in the future” seemingly enable this worrying trajectory. Do we need to live any faster? Do we really need to be more immersed in technology? Do we really believe that living in the future is in the best interests of the end user?

 

Resistant, or Just Plain Wrong?

Resistance to change is a part of human behaviour. And most effective user experience iterations, though positive evolutions overall, begin with a bit of resistance to the change. But then how is it possible to know when users are genuinely and unfalteringly against change? How can brands tell the difference between fear of change, versus a true hate for the update? Brands can be ambitious and also balance their users' needs and include them on such journeys of change - instead of leaving them behind. Brands must also consider the impact of big bold changes on their user base. Changes to customer experience journeys are almost always best introduced in small, iterative steps. This helps to navigate through the inevitable resistance to change from current users, whilst gently and unthreateningly introducing them to new and improved features in a more piecemeal fashion. According to The Drum, only 31% of people surveyed confidently think they know what the Metaverse is. The majority had little to no understanding of the concept, or what it offers. Meta seems to be missing a bit of a trick here. Why not include their users on their journey?

 

Summary

Not all brands follow best practice when it comes to user-focused customer experience journeys. Snapchat and Meta are two brands that have seemingly boundless resources with which to research their user base, and experiment with new methods. Despite this advantageous market position, they too are capable of getting things wrong. A bit of gut instinct is usually no bad thing. But a whole lot of it (without any actual user input) can be disastrous. Favourable share prices, user bases and reputations can be swiftly undone when brands fail to serve the needs of the customer. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to try new things, but include your users on that journey. Listen to them. Make small changes and take small steps. Don’t shove your new gospel down their throats. Because if they don’t like it, trust us, they ain’t buying it.


Brand Trust Biggest Customer Experience Indicator

The X Index - A Trust Indicator

As a barometer for brand trust, the X Index measures customer experience across globally recognised brands. This assessment considers how trust is built, maintained, and broken in relationships with consumers. This includes brand image, customer service, relationships, purchase histories and product & service experiences.

In their research, it was found that only 40% of customers globally feel that the brands they interact with truly have their interests and needs at heart. To assess and deliver on customer needs, actions, perceptions, and narratives must align to provide the ultimate experience for the end customer.

Key Findings:

  • Commit to Trust
  • Build an Exclusive Experience
  • Always be of Service
  • Provide for the age of extra

Actions relating to these elements in turn help to produce or refine customer experiences that are just that - experiential - not simply mechanical. They help brands to narrow their efforts towards goals and the avoidance of common pitfalls, maximise their X Index rankings, and ultimately their measure for brand trust.

 

Brand Trust

According to action-perception theory, people perceive environments in terms of their ability to act within them. In other words, customer accounts of brands rely on their experiences with them, and these experiences stand the best chance of success when they are immersive and productive.

Primacy and recency effects also dictate that brands that people encounter early in their search for a product or service, and similarly, late in their search, will naturally outperform those brands that are stuck in the middle.

Psychologically speaking, these brands are innately mediocre compared to the first and the last in a search. So how do all these techniques help pave the way to a better level of brand trust? How can techniques such as advertising ensure that your brand is the first or last (or in a perfect world - both) that a potential new customer might see?

How can experiences be recreated to ensure they are more immersive, inclusive, and satisfying?

 

Goals and Pitfalls

Combined with other elements, action-perception (positive immersive experiences) and primacy & recency (early or late search advantage) can be combined with strong ethical stances, a ‘customer is always right attitude’, and the balance of well-struck humour.

Externally controlled elements such as reviews, or user-generated content also tie into the overarching category that is brand trust. But brands need to start with the internal elements with which they can exert some control. This also aids in limiting the potential for damage to be caused to any established level of brand trust. Cyber security, system hacks and data breaches are becoming increasingly common and paint brands in a negative light.

Poor internal or staff culture eventually makes its way to the public eye through disgruntled past employees on platforms such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn. Poor taste in humour, public sympathy or even collaborations with the wrong influencer has been known to backfire on brands and impact trust.

 

Summary

Brand trust is gaining increasing levels of coverage and exposure in mainstream marketing as a feature that is central to business and customers. No longer is it a complete dark art, lacking any sort of definition or measure. Thanks to the X Index barometer of brand trust, a measure of perceptions is available globally for businesses and brands to leverage.

As supported in both research and theory, actions and perceptions are intricately linked. Customer perceptions of brands are linked to the actions that they have experienced with those brands. These experiences can refer to a plethora of potential actions - Google searches, advertising exposure, website purchases, return of goods, etc etc.

The aim of building brand trust is to ensure that these actions produce positive perceptions of the brand. A tool for achieving this is providing interactions that create a sense of inclusion and investment for the customer.

Where a brand features in a search journey for a potential customer is also important in the initial impression of a brand. Those that feature first or last in a search are psychologically considered to be more trustworthy and preferred than those in the middle.

Tools for benefiting from this effect heavily rely on paid advertising. Finally, ethical, customer-centric and brand personality goals can aid in improving an X Index score, as can a focus on the avoidance of damage-causing elements. These include, but are not limited to poor internal brand culture, data and system breaches, and poor choice in collaborations, personality, and public sentiment.


Live Commerce: Innovation or Evolution?

You may have heard the buzz around this new channel that is making waves in commerce but for those of us old enough to remember the height of the home shopping networks being broadcast on our TV, it might sound very familiar. Is Live Commerce a remarkable innovation or an evolution of a somewhat tried and tested method?

 

What exactly is Live Commerce?

To put it into its simplest terms, Live Commerce is the blending of live entertainment with instant purchasing broadcast via a digital channel. I know what you’re thinking, this sounds very familiar.

To give the concept a bit of a back story, Alibaba launched Taobao (which translates to ‘searching for treasures’ in Chinese) in 2016. This self-described ‘super app’ is a one-stop-shop for more than 800 million Chinese consumers and is China’s biggest online shopping destination. It boasts listings of over 2 billion products and services from originally designed clothing to branded products and even fresh agricultural produce.

The platform is used for everything, and that is not an overstatement. People are buying products, ordering food, and even booking flights all in this single app and all this data is giving them the power to create hyper-personalised journeys.

Where it moved away from the standard marketplace or eCommerce experience was with the introduction of live streaming. They embedded the purchasing journey right into the live stream so whilst people are watching the product demonstration or show, they can explore and shop without leaving the entertainment behind.

 

Innovation or Evolution?

Those familiar with the home shopping networks of old will see the similarities very quickly. Ok, the tech used is somewhat old hat now, but the concept is the same. People like Joan Rivers built brand empires selling things like jewellery in almost the same way using the latest tech available at the time.  We tuned in to watch the show, asked questions, placed orders over the phone, and felt connected to the hosts and guests.

Where Live Commerce is the evolution is that it is putting it in a place that people use now. The days of spending hours in front of the TV are over. The innovation is the removal of the need to use multiple devices and the almost endless number of streams that people can tune into concurrently.

The old way tied us to a schedule that often-meant spending hours waiting for the show to come around and the hope that we didn’t miss it. eCommerce gave us the ability to buy what we want when we wanted it. Live Commerce is merging the two things and creating an experience that is innovative in its delivery but very much an evolution of an experience we know worked.

 

Does it work?

To put it into a succinct statement, yes it works. In the first 30 minutes of the 2020 Alibaba’s Singles’ Day presale campaign, Taobao Live generated $7.5 billion in total transaction value. And Tommy Hilfiger has extended their live program to Europe and North America after one of their shows in China is reported to have attracted 14 million viewers and sold 1,300 hoodies in two minutes.

But as with all things, it’s not just as easy as whacking up a Livestream and waiting for the money to roll in. Most of the success for those examples is due to the platforms being used and the marketing effort attached to promoting them.

The key to success is putting it into a place where people are already engaging, are open to a shopping experience and the experience that is offered is convenient and easy to accomplish.

 

Should you be doing it?

Based on the information at hand today it is hard to say if it will work for every type of product. The largest success has been in apparel and fashion, beauty, and consumer electronics. Interestingly if you think back to the types of products often sold through the home shopping networks like QVC, the match is almost like for like.

Other things to consider alongside does your product fit are things like, are your customers or those of your buyer personas using the platforms where Live Commerce is the most successful. Starting the process and getting Live Commerce up and running is not a cheap exercise so making sure that it is something your customers are likely to engage with is important.

Are you willing to invest the time and money not only into the technology required to make it a success but, in the marketing, required to drive awareness, engagement and ultimately the purchases? These are things that need to be kept in the mix when considering if it is a channel to use.

If your answer to those questions is yes, you might just have found a new way to deliver not only an increase in sales but also the opportunity to create incredible digital customer experiences.

Keep an eye out for the next Live Commerce blog where we’ll explore a little more about how to go about setting it up, the best format to choose and the steps to take it from small beginnings to a major sales channel.