Posts categorized ‘Best Practice’
When it comes to the first few days on the job at a new company, many of us have probably had similar experiences: dull orientations, awkward alone-time spent at your desk, hurried trainings (if any), and then it’s sink or swim! I’ve even heard horror stories about new employees starting without a computer or phone.
For HR Professionals and Hiring Managers, the harsh reality is that the first few weeks in a new role makes a huge impact on a new employee’s perception of the company, its culture, and its leadership. Finding and hiring the best talent is only the first hurdle; setting them up for success is the critical next step.
It’s important to note that new employee onboarding should go far beyond the basic first day orientation and office tour. At Zmags, it involves comprehensive and engaging training sessions that expose each new hire to our product, our various departments, and our senior leaders within the first two weeks of their employment.
Our training sessions and meetings are done in small groups or one-on-one, allowing for a more personalized learning experience. The information itself covers everything from company history and corporate vision, to our product roadmap and customer support overview. The objective is for each employee to have a solid understanding of the organization as a whole and how their individual role contributes to our company goals.
Finally, we believe that every Zmags employee should be able to understand and use our product – regardless if they work in Sales or Accounting. After receiving several product demonstrations and tutorials, each new hire is asked to publish their own personal Zmag with fun facts and information about themselves. It’s a hands-on product training exercise that also helps the global Zmags organization get to know each new employee.
Check out some real examples of what our new employees have created with the Zmags platform!
Project Manager Tom Majoch’s personal Zmag
Today’s online shoppers are both engaged and savvy. They know how to use a number of devices and channels to find what they want, when they want it. As an online retailer, it is important to be in touch with this type of shopper. A solid plan is to create engagement before, during, and after the purchase process.
What used to look like this…
Now looks like this…
The “customer journey”, which now apparently includes detours, layovers, and round-abouts, will reward the marketers who give it the attention that it deserves. In this case, the journey is as much of a factor as the destination.
Before: Going Above & Beyond the Product Page
The ‘Before’ phase is the initial impression phase and the research phase. Google estimated before the 2012 holiday season that 80% of shoppers would research online before making a purchase.
Gone are the days when 5 bullets of information, an image, and an “add to cart” button would suffice. Engagement and original content creation need to occur on many different fronts. In addition, one out of three conversions occurs 30 days after the online research began, proving that a visit is not always a ‘win’ or a ‘loss’, but a relationship to foster.
Keeping the brand top of mind pays off: customers who engage with a brand online will spend anywhere from 20-40% more on that brand and its products. So from a brand’s perspective, the goal should be to engage as many people as possible, therefore bumping up the number of those “20-40%” customers.
During: Perfect Balance of Engagement & Commerce
The visit in which the purchase takes place is a sensitive time to deliver content, as marketing 101 tells us not to disrupt or complicate that process. There is a place, however, for supplemental content that is customized to the product or products in the shopping cart, such as:
- Product Reviews: 82% of testers in a Zmags study said reviews impact the purchase decision or are needed for purchase.
- Dynamic Product Windows: Digital catalogs employing DPWs allow the user to click right from catalog pages with editorial content to a product page with an ‘add to cart’ button.
Dynamic product windows in a digital catalog
These types of content can enhance the purchase process without disrupting it. The transition from Research/Consideration > Purchase can become seamless, indistinguishable even, when engagement breeds a marriage of content & e-commerce.
In tablet formats, such a marriage is made possible by platforms like Zmags, which helps build engagement and commerce into online publications, allows for items to be moved into the shopping cart from any page, and offers ‘Shop the Look’ functionality.
After: Spread the Love, Share the Message
Users will be reviewing and discussing the experiences they had during the “Before” and “During” phases, so it is important that those phases hold up in order to garner favorable reviews during this last phase. Favorable reviews will continue to power the cycle: 82% of testers in a Zmags study said reviews impact the purchase decision or are needed for purchase. It is important, therefore, to have the proper channels in place for users to continue to interact post-purchase.
It’s better to think of the buyer journey as more of a cycle, instead of a linear “funnel”. The various stages are just points within this cycle, and in the cycle, the conversation never ends, it just continually changes.
Here are 10 tips and best practices for effectively deploying online content. Using some or all of these best practices will ensure that you reach the biggest potential audience and maximize results.
1. Use a dedicated e-mail to launch your Publication. Within the HTML e-mail, use a Call to Action (CTA) or Hero Image when promoting the Publication.
2. Ensure a clear CTA to the Publication is being used on homepage. It is recommended to add a CTA, preferably an image, on the home page and add a reference to the Publication in the Website header & footer.
3. Embed the Publication into your website. This will mask and give a more memorable URL as well as give additional branding and social sharing options. It is easy to use our API and embed the Publication into your site (all coding is done for you!) Then, promote the Publication’s location.
4. Ensure the Publication has been fully Search Engine Optimized. The more traffic and referrers the better the search engine rank.
5. Promote from other affiliate sites, website banners or PPC campaigns.
6. Social Posts: There are several Social Sharing options:
a. Use a Facebook App
b. Ensure the content has Social Sharing enabled
c. Social shares can be added to HTML when using a lightbox
d. Social sharing can be added to HTML pages when embedded or when embedded you can add the Wibiya toolbar
e. Talk about your content on Social Sites. URL shortners work well when tweeting content and articles/pages can be deeplinked to when talking about content on Facebook, Linkedin and other Social Sites
f. Drive traffic using Facebook Ads
7. Add a CTA to internal company e-mail signatures that links to the Publication.
8. Promote online content within Offline content using Publication URL or QR Code. Examples might include Print material, in-store promotion, offline campaigns.
9. Subscription. Provide an easy way for consumers to sign up and get the latest content via e-mail, alert, blog etc.
10. Blog & use an efficient Publishing Schedule. Try and focus on solving problems or entertaining. Those are the only two reasons people go to the Internet in the first place. Back up online presence with a consistent publishing and content delivery schedule.
One of the crucial game changers in online commerce is the user interface. The merit of the product, the innovation of the marketing campaign or the size of the deal offered may all lure customers to the website, but it is invariably the interface they encounter that determine whether they proceed with the purchase or go away.
Marketers have always worked hard to make the user interface as attractive as possible. Successful marketers make sure that such attractiveness does not compromise ease of use. Now, with the advent of multiple digital touch points, marketers need to do more.
Today’s marketers need to offer a clean and intuitive interface that not only caters to seamless engagement and discovery for the customer but also allows the customer to purchase without leaving the catalog. While the focus has always been on allowing the customer to explore or share content-rich pages and dynamic imagery with a quick tap or dab, it is time to allow the customer to move the product to the shopping cart with equal ease. In short, the marketer needs to interpose engagement and commerce to the brand’s online content.
Again, marketers need to not just ensure that they provide a rich and enriching brand experience to customers, but also make sure that such experience remains consistent across all devices through which the customer accesses content.
The new Verge Viewer offered by Zmags facilitates this, as exemplified in the latest catalog of Serena & Lily, the seller of luxury home décor products. The company adopted Verve to provide the next wave of digital experience to its customers. The technology allowed the catalog to sport some intuitive features, such as arresting visuals using maximum available browser space, facilitating swipe based navigation wherein the customers search for products by keyword, accessing the required page with just one swipe or click, and more. The catalog also groups products, displaying the full suite of catalog page below the current page, allowing shoppers to browse or purchase items individually or collectively.
Are you creating a user interface that drives sales?
Consumers now access content through multiple devices. The diversity of touch points is not just limited to devices such as desktops, tablets or smart phones, but also to mediums such as web browsers, dedicated apps, Facebook and others. The challenge before marketers is to not just ensure that their content remains optimized across all these multiple touch points, but also ensure that the content presentation, and by extension, the customer experience, remains consistent across the diverse channels and devices. Side by side, the marketer needs powerful analytic capabilities to understand what works and what does not work, and the extent to which the popularity across content, segregated by touch points, actually translates to revenue.
Little Tykes / Play Power, a seller of playground equipment has deployed Zmags Professional solutions to ensure all these, and more.
Apart from ensuring a consistent brand image across devices and channels, Zmags Verge spruces up the catalog and facilitates slick, tablet-optimized navigation. The attractive visual representation of the playground equipment complete with descriptions and pop-ups to relevant links apart, catalog viewers can configure the playground equipment in different colors and settings, visualize how kids interact in different equipment, mix and match different equipment, read social media reviews, and do more, all without leaving the catalog.
Zmags also provides for a truly integrated experience by allowing the consumer to complete the shopping within the catalog itself, meaning that the consumer can complete the entire marketing lifecycle right from initial product enquiry or curiosity to actually making the purchase and even providing feedback, without having to stray from the catalog at all.
How can you improve your customer lifecycle marketing with digital catalogs?
Today’s customers are highly informed and access information about products through various digital touch points (like online catalogs!) by themselves. The role of the marketer is now to guide the customer through the buying process, to provide them with a good experience in whichever channel or medium they choose, rather than dictate terms. This requires a shift from the product centric marketing campaigns to customer centric campaigns, and this, in turn rests on the marketer customizing the engagement with the customer. At the same time, the marketer also needs to ensure a consistent voice and message across the different channels.
Online catalogs as a marketing tool facilitate this trend, which is evident from the experiences of PartyLine, a niche maker of candles, candle warmers, fragrances and premium home décor products.
The company’s online catalog, powered by Zmags Verge, retains its almost one hundred year old reputation of providing personalized service and striking a lasting relationship with customers. The company managed to create lasting relationships by delivering top quality, sustainable and durable lifestyle and home décor products.
The Verve powered catalog, slick in design and optimized to provide the perfect medium showcase such strengths. The rich imagery that radiate the beauty of the products takes on from where the glossy print catalog left and even improves the experience for the consumer.
The catalog, instead of listing each item on stock, lists only a few products with bigger images, and a curative experience when the consumer browses the catalogue. The company merchandises the products exactly the way they want online shoppers to find them.
A preview tab allows the consumer to see the product coming up next, allowing them to delve into it or side step it to some other product.
The rich, in-depth, flexible and engaging experience offered by Zmags PartyLine catalog gels perfectly with at-home parties where the sales agent connects with the potential clients.
How can you use an online catalog to engage your customers?
Comscore reports that as of April 2012, almost 85 percent of US audience viewed online video. An adult viewer watches 21.8 hours a month on an average and this is double the corresponding figure in 2010.
The emergence of multiple digital touch points with enhanced multimedia capabilities has further facilitated the popularity of videos as a content medium. A 2012 study by the etailing group sponsored by Invodo revels that one in two smart phone users and more than six out of ten tablet users watch one or more product videos in a three month period.
Such a steep increase in the popularity of the video is forcing marketers sit up and take notice. The Social media examiner reports that 76 percent of all marketers plan to increase the space of video in their marketing plans in 2012. This is likely to yield good results, with the Internet Retailer reporting that 85 percent of the prospects who view product videos would most likely make the purchase. Those who view video are 17.4 percent more likely to make a purchase versus those who do not watch videos.
There are many reasons for such a high conversion rates:
- Videos provide the most appropriate engagement medium for those who prefer visual or audible communications over written or verbal communications. Such people constitute about 60 to 70 percent of all shoppers.
- Videos help consumers progress to a “ready to buy” state by educating them with product information and specifications. Evidence suggests that people who watch videos spend more time on the website and engage better. When they purchase, they purchase with confidence, with lesser cart abandonment compared to those who do not watch videos. After making a purchase they are less likely to return the product.
- For the marketer, incorporating video provides an added benefit of improved SEO optimization, resulting in improved search engine ranking and thereby better visibility.
How are you using this medium to increase conversion rates?
The success of many enterprises depends on their ability to sell an experience rather than the actual product. This can be done through digital catalogs. In many cases, the actual product would be standard and undifferentiated among the many providers, and businesses would have to compete on providing their customers with a better experience.
Digital catalogs provide a good way to offer an interactive and engaging experience. Overlaying the dynamism provided by the catalog atop the functionality and the rich media of emerging digital touch points such as the tablets brings to life the content on offer, and is a marked improvement from the experience offered by other channels such as the print catalog, a bland PDF page or even the conventional browser based website.
Country Walkers, an adventure travel company offering itineraries around the world, is a case in point. The success of this company’s online marketing efforts depends on its ability to sell the “experiences” such as guided walking, safaris, biking tours and others rather than the basic tour products such as flights and hotel that anyone can match.
Country Walker’s online catalog, powered by Zmags Professional, engages adventure seekers who search for trips online with invigorating photography, videos, sights and sounds featuring activities, scenery, on-site interviews, cuisine and more, offering a near replica of the actual experience.
The underlying analytics provides rich insights on consumer behavior and trends, allowing the company to fine-tune their strategy. Analytics reveal that visitors to the catalog spend more time and have lower bounce rates compared to the company’s website.
Digital catalogs allow marketers to mesmerize the viewers by transforming a replica of the actual experience to the screen. This however is not the end of the marketer’s job. The marketer also has to ensure that the consumers have easy and seamless access to such content. The ZMags Professional powered Country Walkers catalog, for instance, is embedded into the brand page on Facebook, allowing the brand’s Facebook fans easy and convenient access without having to leave Facebook.
Overall, they’re doing a great job of creating a consistent experience for their customer through digital catalogs.
Brand image matters. Very often, it is the brand image, or the positive perception associated with the brand, that makes customers prefer it to competitor products.
This image or positive perception depends on not just the inherent quality of the product, but also on how the products are showcased to consumers.
Brands invest in high-end photography, glossy papers and high quality prints to position the products in the best possible manner through print catalogs. Digital catalogs allow such brands to replicate the success of print catalogs to the digital media at a fraction of the cost, and even expand on the strengths. However, mere replication of the print catalog rarely works.
To maintain (or increase) a positive brand image, the digital catalog needs to deliver an optimized yet consistent experience across multiple touch points, including tablets, smart phones and tablets.
Digital catalogs needs to highlight the product as close as possible to its natural form, with multiple views of the product, ability to zoom and do more, exploiting all other inherent features of the device. It needs to offer an immersive shopping experience that deepens the experience.
The digital catalog also needs to fuel purchasing at the spur of the moment. Integrating the shopping cart with the catalog allows the overawed consumer to buy the product without having to leave the catalog. Encouraging social sharing across Facebook, Twitter, PinInterest and other channels helps to spread the catalog across people with similar tastes.
An example of a brand that has applied all these is Brahmin. Brahmin, which takes its brand image seriously, features exclusive handbags that are both stylishly beautiful and functional. The new catalog powered by Zmags Commerce Pro and the new Verge experience has successfully transferred the positive brand image from the print catalog to the digital catalog.
How can you use digital catalogs to create a positive brand image?
The fierce competition among brands means that marketers have to roll out innovative ways to attract and retain customers. A crucial task in this regard is developing digital content that provides an intuitive, rich and engaging experience.
The focus of successful digital content is a neat design. The two essential considerations when doing so include providing a highly interactive experience, and ensuring they provide a consistent experience no matter what digital point he consumer chooses to access the content.
In today’s multiple digital touch point environment, the marketers’ job is not done when he weaves an attractive story to entice the consumer to click on the provided interactive elements such as buttons, navigation panels, forms or other call to action elements, or even by making such call to action elements attractive. The CTA depends largely on how easy the customers can access such elements using their device of choice.
For instance, a keyboard-heavy interactive experience would fail to impress the tablet consumers. Rather, a tab button, accessible easily by either a tap or a mouse click would suit all devices.
With consistency a key requirement of success, it is imperative to design in such a way that the consumer has the same commerce experience when accessing the content through the Web browser, smart phone, tablet, Facebook, or any other medium.
Marketers would do well to tap into Zmags vast experience gained by developing over one million digital brochures, catalogs and magazines to design digital content that works.