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Archive: Oct 2014

  1. Taking Your E-Commerce Business Global: Seven Localization Techniques With Commercial Impact

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    by Liam Curley

    Few e-commerce companies launch with the intention of growing a multinational retail business. However, when their website begins to receive inquiries and sales from abroad, many companies start considering the opportunities available for online export.

    Recently, we at Smoke & Croak published an interactive infographic on search engine optimization for an international website. It’s a step-by-step guide on how to conduct SEO to grow visibility on international search engines. And although it provides useful insight from sources around the Web on how to promote your business to international browsers, it doesn’t go beyond promotion.

    If you’ve spent valuable resources in gaining visibility on international search engines, you should also spend time considering how to optimize the conversion rate on your site for the new audience.

    Many view localization as an end-of-project task, purely intended to allow the new audience to browse the site in their own language. That misconception would have a detrimental effect on the conversion rate optimization (CRO) of your international website. Though localization includes elements of translation, when done well it can serve to reduce barriers in the buying process and convert visitors into customers.

    I’m a firm believer that the “marginal gains” philosophy behind the recent success of the British cycling team can be applied to most business scenarios. With localization or CRO, we’re not looking for one major website element that can make or break your transaction model. We’re looking for marginal gains across all the sections of the website—no matter how seemingly insignificant—that will remove a possible barrier from purchase.

    On their own, those marginal gains don’t look like much, but as you begin to put them together you create a successful international online sale model with a healthy conversion rate.

    Here are seven elements of localization ghag can have an impact on your international business objectives.

    1. Localizing Currency

    Localizing currency seems like an obvious task for an international e-commerce site. Users want to see the price in their currency, and the majority of e-commerce sites provide this for their customers.

    However, consider a finer detail: How would you display currency? If your business is looking to sell into the EU zone, do you display prices as €1 or EUR 1? Does it matter? Some e-commerce consumers are used to seeing the € symbol, others the EUR label. Picking the right one for your market contributes to a marginal win.

    You want to display the currency the way that consumers are used to seeing it so that they feel comfortable browsing the site and making a potential purchase.

    Run the research and find out how currency is displayed by competitors in your international market.

    2. Setting Prices

    Pricing is crucial. Are you going to simply apply an exchange rate to prices from your domestic market? A better method is to research the target marketplace and discover what the competition is charging. You may have to reduce rates to keep competitive. Alternatively, you may be able to increase rates if the market price is higher abroad than at home.

    You also need to decide whether you’re going to set international prices with an annual price list. That could be risky, because exchange rates fluctuate and you could lose margins as a consequence. A better option would be to use an exchange rate API like Open Exchange Rates or Exchange Rate API. Those tools display pricing in various currencies and track exchange rate fluctuations every hour.

    As the exchange rate changes, the API reflects the change in the displayed price of your product, ensuring that your margin and price is fixed in line with the price that you want to charge in the base currency.

    3. Payment Methods

    You run an e-commerce site in the US or UK and customers have the option of paying with credit and debit cards. Do you offer the same payment methods for international markets? You need to run some research and understand whether customers in your target international market are happy to pay with a credit card. Maybe they prefer another method.

    For example, German e-commerce customers are used to paying by bank transfer or cash on delivery. Can you accommodate either option? If not, you’re adding a barrier to purchase.

    4. Localizing Delivery and Returns Policies

    Are you going to charge for delivery? If so, how much? Make all delivery-related information completely clear and easy to find for the customer.

    You need a specific delivery policy for each market. Research that market and understand more about consumer expectations. Do they expect free delivery and is anything less a major stumbling block? Is it worth increasing prices or minimum order values in order to accommodate free deliveries to international markets?

    Second, create a returns policy for the international market. Before launching the site, you need to have a clear understanding within the business of how you’ll manage returns.

    You also need to research consumer protection laws, which can differ from market to market. The entire process needs to be documented and available on the website for customers.

    5. Translating and Localizing Content

    If the website content requires translation, it should be done by a professional translator or translation agency. A Google Translate widget won’t cut it, and neither will using a friend or colleague who speaks the language. Translation is a profession and skill in its own right, not a task that anyone who speaks a couple of languages can complete competently. Poor marketing copy adds a barrier to purchase.

    Editing content for new markets is not merely a matter of translation. Localized content will also be required if you’re exporting to countries that speak the same language as the domestic market. If you’re a US e-commerce business looking to export to the UK, create localized copy in UK English. Remember, win the small margins!

    6. Localizing Products and Offers

    If you’re looking to do a trial of an online market before conducting full-scale localization, it can be a good idea to launch a microsite version of your e-commerce store, offering the products that you believe are best suited to that market. A small amount of online research through consumer keyword search volumes and online user feedback should give you an indication as to which products those may be.

    Sometimes, your offers and sales should also be localized for the new market. Here’s an example of how not to do it. Sports Direct, a UK based FTS100 retailer, conducted wide-scale localization and sells products online in several international markets (the site is available in 14 languages and 10 countries). The following screenshots show the UK and Spain site homepages.

    The text in the body and menu has been translated into Spanish, but any text in the images has been left in English. Also, in the buildup to the World Cup, the site promoted the sale of the England soccer shirt. Makes sense for an English site, but wouldn’t it be better to change the headline offer on the Spanish site to the Spanish national shirt?

    A sales offer localized for the target audience is likely to pull a much higher conversion rate.

    7. After-Sales Support

    How are you going to deal with after-sales support for a new market, and potentially new language? Do you have anyone in the team capable of reading and returning emails or social media messages in the target language? What about phone calls?

    For a successful launch of an international website, you need to have a plan in place to manage interactions with customers.

  2. Instagram Benchmark Data From 100 Top Brands

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    by Ayaz Nanji

    Some 86% of brands on the Interbrand 100 list have an account on Instagram as of 3Q14, up from 54% in 3Q12, according to a recent report from Simply Measured.

    Moreover, the number of active brands—those that posted at least once in 3Q14—almost doubled since 3Q12, with 73% of brands posting at least one photo or video per week to Instagram in 3Q14.

    Monthly engagement (likes and comments) also grew rapidly in the past 12 months—up almost 12x since 3Q12.

    Below, additional key findings from the report, which was based on 3Q14 data from the Instagram accounts of the Interbrand 100.


    • Posts by the brands examined garnered 216 comments on average in 3Q14.
    • The majority of Instagram comments on brand posts happen quickly (75% within the first 48 hours, on average), though for high-performing posts comment volume peaks later and the posts have a much longer shelf-life.


    • The average caption in 3Q14 was 138 characters long, including hashtags.
    • Posts that included another user handle in the caption had 56% more engagement.
    • There is no statistically significant correlation between caption length and engagement, the analysis found.


    • 88% of brand posts in 3Q14 included at least one hashtag.
    • 91% of posts included seven or fewer hashtags.
    • Posts with at least one hashtag averaged 12.6% more engagement.

  3. Product Placement as Effective Marketing Tool: 10 Tips for Successful Placement in TV or Film

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    by Jessica Cohen

    Product Placement Tip No. 1: “The Secret of My Success.” Join in the game.

    Could there be anything headier than seeing your designs or products adorning stars like Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, or Angelina Jolie? Until you’ve scored a great placement, you can’t know the crazy and myriad ways it can help your brand. The cost-benefit ratio makes it a no brainer. But, like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it.

    Product Placement Tip No. 2: “Bend It Like Beckham.” Be flexible.

    Being flexible can score you big points with a production. Your product might be almost perfect for their needs. But if you can offer to change the color, size, logo, or dimensions, doing so could win you the placement.

    Product Placement Tip No. 3: “Beat the Clock.” Timing is critical.

    Filming deadlines are tight. When costume or set designers ask for something, they usually need it yesterday. No matter how stellar your product, if you can’t deliver it on time you’ll be blacklisted. Make triple-sure you can fulfill a request before you say yes.

    Product Placement Tip No. 4: “Show Me The Money.” Be patient, and the rewards will come.

    If you want instant gratification, then product placement may not be for you. The lead-time for seeing your products in a show can be one month to one year, depending on the production schedule. However, the payoff is that millions of consumers may see your product associated with their favorite show or character.

    Product Placement Tip No. 5: “The More the Merrier.” Be prepared for productions to request multiple items.

    Duplicate items are requested in case the product gets lost or damaged, or the character has a stunt double who is shooting at the same time. Productions are not willing to take the risk of holding up a day of shooting to find that missing sweater that was already established as the one the lead actress wears every day.

    Product Placement Tip No. 6: “It’s a Mad Mad World.” Show respect for the professionals on set; shooting a scene can be a very busy and crazy time.

    You may be dying to know if they’re going to use your product, but take a deep breath and be respectful. Production schedules are usually hectic, and you don’t want to be a nuisance. Give your new contacts time to respond; don’t flood their inboxes with “checking in” emails.

    Product Placement Tip No. 7: “Catch Me If You Can.” Understand that your product may not make it on screen, or it may appear just for a fleeting moment.

    Even though your product may have been used in the shooting, there are many reasons it may not end up on screen. The scene may be cut from the movie, it may only appear for a split second, or the actress may be wearing your watch but they show her only from the shoulders up.

    Product Placement Tip No. 8: “The GIFT.” Also give to those who do the work.

    Costume designers and prop masters are just as influential off the clock as they are on set. Giving them your product as a gift could mean it ends up in a trailer where your favorite cast member goes for hair and makeup. Or if your contact uses your iPad case or wears your necklace, it might end up on their personal Instagram or Pinterest stream. They are influencers on and OFF the set.

    Product Placement Tip No. 9: “Thank You…” Two simple words go a long way.

    After a successful placement, make sure to send a personal and heartfelt thank-you. It’s the right thing to do  and they’ll be more likely to come back for more.

    Product Placement Tip No. 10: “As Good as It Gets.” Congratulations. You scored a successful placement!

    Did you spot your product on TV or in a movie? Congrats! Share your placement on your social media accounts. Even old placements get a big response on Social Media on Throwback Thursday. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. But beware, networks will not share photos or stills of scenes for commercial use. That added benefit is usually saved for sponsors who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for those opportunities.

    Product Placement 101: Who are these people?

    Ever wonder about the difference between a costume designer, production designer, a set decorator, and prop master?

    • The costume designer chooses clothing, shoes, and jewelry to express the characters’ personalities. He or she coordinates closely with the hair and makeup stylist and set designer to make sure the clothes and accessories work in each scene, and with the director to ensure they mesh with the overall vision. They help tell the story and define the character through wardrobe and accessories.
    • The production designer is responsible for setting the scene and the overall vision for the sets. Permanent furniture, backdrops, and color schemes are the production designer’s domain. He or she designs and creates the set.
    • The set decorator is responsible for everything that is placed on a set. Furniture, bedspreads, pillows, vases, table settings, flowers, artwork, lamps, televisions—anything on set that is not moving or held is put there by a set decorator.
    • The prop master is responsible for property—everything from cell phones to water bottles, sunglasses to cameras, computers to food. If an actor is holding it, the prop master is responsible for it.
  4. Three Vital Steps for Effective Email Marketing

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    by Corinne Sklar

    For too long, marketers have taken the easy way out: emailing every campaign to their entire database. Though simple to execute, such a “batch and blast” approach no longer works in a world where each email competes with thousands of digital, mobile, and social messages. It can be nearly impossible for your email to stand out and get noticed.

    But there’s good news. You can cut through the clutter by creating personalized email campaigns that are relevant—sometimes irresistible—to the people you are trying to reach.

    Companies need to adopt new strategies and technologies that allow them to convert from “broadcast to personal” and drive customer engagement to accelerate business results.

    Where do you start?

    1. Take control of your data

    Create a 360-degree view of all customer data sources

    Data reflects your customer’s persona and personal traits, and so it can help companies better understand and target relevant messaging to them.

    In Bluewolf’s annual study (email required for access to report), data was the second largest budgeted initiative for marketers, likely because 63% of marketers don’t have a single dashboard to measure marketing activities.

    Customer data is the backbone of your company’s growth strategy, and it’s essential to maximizing sales effectiveness, amplifying your marketing messages, and increasing customer engagement. But, oftent, it can also be overwhelming, quickly becoming untrustworthy, outdated, or redundant.

    Take an inventory of what data and content you can actually access and measure across Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Social. You need full visibility into how data comes into your organization and its importance for different departments. When your systems are consolidated into a single view, that view fosters a natural alignment and better communication across all departments—leading to greater customer satisfaction.

    Standardize data fields and values to ensure data consistency

    The best way to increase the health of your database is to start at the point of data collection.

    Companies that employ consistent data hygiene generate seven times the number of inquiries and four times the number of leads (email required for access to report).

    For example, if your database has multiple titles for the same person, it can make figuring out whom you want to talk to more difficult. To create a solid foundation for effective email marketing, consider standardizing the title data by using the fields of “Function” and “Role” rather than highly variable fields like “Job Title.” Doing so brings consistency to the contact list by normalizing around single-defined values.

    Establish data de-duplication best-practices across departments/systems

    Up to 25% of B2B customer data becomes inaccurate within a year. Duplicate information is a big part of this problem, undermining effective customer communications.

    Standardizing your data should be an ongoing process. If you have a CRM system, ensure that data from your marketing and sales groups are flowing in both directions. Both sets of data need to sync to provide an accurate and current view of the customer.

    Marketers need to engage every line of business to find out how and where they’re getting new data; but, ultimately, database maintenance should be the responsibility of your entire organization. That means enforcing a consistent data governance program across your business and making it a regular part of staff onboarding and training, and ensuring it matches with each department’s priorities.

    2. Segment your audience

    Identify the business objectives of your email campaigns

    Segmenting is all about targeting a specific type of customer. Segmenting data enables you to group people with similar characteristics, such as job function, buying habits, and geography.

    Segmenting allows organizations to craft unique messages and offerings that speak to the specific interests and concerns of each customer group.

    Personalized, relevant marketing will help you improve customer response rates, boost customer loyalty and trust, and ultimately maximize business outcomes.

    Implement the right segmentation strategy to meet your business goals

    You can segment your audience hundreds of ways corresponding to business objectives, specific products or services, B2B or B2C, global or regional markets… the list goes on.

    One useful way to segment your database is by buying cycle, which looks at your customers’ purchasing habits to create content that’s relevant during specific cycles.

    Remember, there’s no single right way of segmenting that fits every customer base. The best method will depend on your particular business, your unique sales cycles, and your marketing goals.

    It’s important to understand the various personas that make up your customer base. Flesh out effective personas by getting in the mind of that customer type. Put yourself in their shoes via shadowing or sales rep “ride-alongs,” and identify where the customer experience falls short as they interact with your brand.

    3. Define campaign success

    Email success doesn’t happen overnight. Companies need to set realistic expectations—based on past performance—of what a successful email campaign looks like.

    Now there are powerful digital solutions to help track campaigns over time, and shed insight into whether a company is hitting its goals and actually advancing customer engagement.

    The best marketing automation solutions, such as Marketo and Eloqua, come with built-in reports that give a holistic view of campaigns, including performance measures such as revenue and profitability, as well as customized dashboards for CMOs and other executives to track marketing effectiveness at a glance, predict customer behaviors, and make fast course corrections.

    Marketers today need to measure engagement as they build trust with customers in the email database. When their email marketing efforts are relevant and effective, customer engagement will rise over time and directly feed into driving business results.

  5. 2015 Marketing and Advertising Salary Guide

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    by Ayaz Nanji

    Starting salaries for marketing and advertising professionals are expected to increase by 3.5% on average in 2015, according to a recent report from The Creative Group.

    The report examined salaries for 125 interactive, design, marketing, advertising, and public relations positions. Projected 2015 salaries were based on a survey of marketing and advertising executives as well as data from The Creative Group’s staffing placement efforts.

    Below, key findings from the report.

    Hiring and Work Trends

    • 33% of the advertising and marketing executives surveyed say the number of creative staff working remotely today is higher than it was three years ago.
    • 45% say candidates at least sometimes try to negotiate salary when presented with a job offer.
    • Besides salary and bonuses, candidates most often try to negotiate additional vacation time, flexible work schedules, and telecommuting options.

    2015 Salary Estimates

    Below, 2015 salary estimates for key marketing and advertising roles. The projected salary ranges for each position reflect starting pay only; bonuses, incentives, and other forms of compensation were not taken into account. The ranges represent national averages for each position.

    To see the salary projections for all 125 roles examined, check out the full report.

    About the research: The report was based on a survey of marketing and advertising executives as well as data from The Creative Group’s staffing placement efforts.