Welcome back everyone to the e-commerce marketing podcast. I am your host Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest. Dr. Dave Chaffee, Dave Chaffee is co-founder and content director of smart insights and online publisher and. Salton Sea who provides an educational platform with templates and guides to help individuals improve their digital skills and improve businesses to help improve businesses Roi.

He is author of five best-selling books on digital marketing including e-commerce and digital business management. Welcome to the podcast Dave. Thank you, Arlen. Great to be here looking forward to going through the the trends. Yeah, that sounds great. We appreciate it. Yeah before we get started and get into why don’t you tell me a little bit about your your background?

Um sounds like you’ve got a pretty diverse background as far as your authorships with five best selling books, but why don’t you tell us about you know, kind of a little bit about your history how you get started how you got into this industry? Yes. I I’m lucky to have been involved in digital marketing and e-commerce from.

From way back. So the mid-90s actually I was originally an IT person and when the the internet and email and e-commerce first came along but there just wasn’t any one with the expertise to help businesses take advantage of these new tools. So back in 98, I was doing some of the first courses in email marketing and and SEO and really I got to love explaining what the best options were and trying to puzzle it.

Because it’s like it’s still like a maze, isn’t it? There’s so many options in which the best options for retailers. So, I’ve always enjoyed just trying to work out. What’s what’s hot and what’s not and helping people focus and prioritize where we help is through planning. So we find many businesses don’t have time to plan but we have templates that help put a bit of structure on on the marketing activities and and how.

Get that Roi as you said definitely and as you said the landscape eCommerce landscape has changed quite a bit, you know, especially from since the mid-90s as you mentioned. There is so much out there most businesses these days really they don’t I have uh an idea of kind of where to start or where to go.

They don’t have a lot of time to do planning. So yeah businesses like yours are definitely, you know, great for providing the opportunity and resources to help them out. Not today. Um we have you on here, excuse me. We have a very timely topic here. We’re going to be talkin about the e-commerce trends for 2018, you know at the end of the year here.

We’re almost at the end of 2017. And so when I want to kind of find out was looking back at this past year or this current here that we’re in that’s about to wrap up. What do you think? We’re some of the biggest e-commerce Trends in 2017? It’s something that always is on my mind at this time of year because we find there are so many people searching online to find out how they can get an edge.

So we actually asked our our audience. We have 150 odd thousand subscribers on Smart insights. So rather than just saying what are your top trends? We just ask them for a single marketing activity that they think in the year ahead is going to drive them the the most up growth the uptick in. Sales.

So so what we’ve seen this year the top three are actually content marketing leveraging big data and data of All Sorts. So using analytics and testing to to make improvements and then the third one which we’ve actually only added onto our list for the first time is is Mark machine learning and artificial intelligence.

So those are the top three. There’s a long list, of course, you can imagine social medias in. Mobiles in faith CR o n6 + and so on but it’s those that those top three I think are interesting from a retail point of view. I think it’s it’s going to vary case to case but I think that there is a lot of interest in personalization and that’s now open to.

Smaller businesses there maybe not ready yet for machine learning and artificial intelligence that will maybe a couple of years down the line but there are a great low cost ways of personalizing in the journey through the sales funnel on your site which a much more cost-effective now, right definitely of your personalization.

These days is is huge and it’s like think all of this has been spawned by the amount of the data on individuals. That’s out there, you know and this is really all been kind of thrust upon the marketplace from the social networks, you know, the Facebook which has, you know, a tremendous amount of demographic information on on literally probably I would say, you know, eighty to ninety percent of the world, you know, which that’s right incredible and so being able to have.

All of that information as far as peoples wants needs and likes of on various subjects is huge where you know kind of back in the day like you said when you started in the mid 90s when social media really either didn’t exist or was kind of at its infancy there really wasn’t anything like this. I think business is really just had to depend on in order to find to personalize different campaigns.

You know, they kind of had to go the old school route doing surveys focus groups. I think we’re big I think you know focus groups. These days are are still used in a way but more online purposes more of doing types of surveys. I mean, what’s your opinion about that time? Do you see focus groups that all being something businesses use these days.

Yeah, I think in in larger businesses for sure, but in in small and midsize businesses, there’s no much more. Granular ways. You can ask the question in the customer Journey where you get specific feedback on specific on specific pages. So we’re um, we’re big fans of these sort of tools like we use a tool called hot jar where we can say is this page clear if we’ve just launched, you know, saying new pricing or a new way of explaining our proposition and we’ll get that that immediate feedback will also use tools to to get.

The K would you recommend us to other other companies so that net promoter score will ask those questions and from that feedback. We do actually do like an annual customer survey like a lot of businesses. I’m sure a lot of the people listening into but you can do that on individual category or product pages.

It gives you much more actionable data. So so yeah, I think research is certainly to the before but yeah going back to personalized. Although you could say, you know, when when we when we got started with, you know, Amazon launched in the in the mid 90s and they had email and web personalization right soon after but what’s really shocked me is that more businesses haven’t taken advantage of it.

And I think it’s this sort of lack of planning and may be reviewing your capabilities and I saw a great um, uh, we likely sort of Mines tools to help people think well. Where are we now? In terms of a marketing where should we be is from a vendor called Monitor and they they call it the personalization pyramid, right?

And they’re saying at the bottom of the pyramid you should really be starting to have rule based tests and you to keep it if you’re not doing personalization. Now, you should start by looking at say returning visitors against new visitors. Don’t new visitors get the the message 15% off the first purchase that you see quite often through a through a pop-up and then.

Taking it from there. You mentioned demographics as you’ve got returning visitors and customers who bought more than once you might want to do that form of personalization, but that’s all rule space. Then at the next level. You might want to set up tests for those rules space messages if you like to see which are most effective.

So I think another trend for goes alongside personalization is using A/B testing and doing conversion rate optimization because you may be popping up. Merchandising are offered offer messages, but it’s just like Google AdWords. If you don’t test the copy or the the product side by side or the visuals.

You don’t know what what works. So I think again a be testing cro that’s going to be a trend and one of the interesting things this year you’re asking about is that Google? Um, they’ve updated their a be testing tool now to Google optimize and that actually builds in some personalization. Course that’s free tool is usually previously it was available in Google analytics 360.

So I think businesses had to pay millions and upwards to Google to get the support that’s open for everyone. Um, so whether it’s personalizing an a/b testing on your own platform or whether you could hook into into Google, I think that. You know, that’s an essential area to to plan in the in the air ahead.

Yeah. Yeah, definitely in there kind of brings me to my next question is you know, there’s so much out here. You mentioned this Google 360 component that where they now have the optimizing tool that they make available for. You know for for businesses for anyone, you know for which is incredible and so I I do always wonder because you know with small businesses online businesses because we deal with a lot of small businesses here at Omni star with our affiliate referral software.

And you know, I I talked to a lot of business owners a lot of startup companies that you know are hit the ground running, you know, kind of doing of course million things all at once. Yeah, and so what I always wonder is it important for small businesses to. To stay on top of these e-commerce Trends, you know, and if so, I guess why and how what are some suggestions you would have for, you know, a business owner that you know wants to stay up to date but you know, he may not subscribe to blogs and have a time to read that is when you suggestions tips that you can offer.

Sure. Yeah. I think a lot of the trends um may not be rather than straight away to the a small business owner. It’s a bit like I said machine learning and AI That’s what a lot of. Common a big e-commerce platforms, uh looking at so over in the in the UK and Europe. We’ve got solando who were you know, they’re across 20 countries now and they’re they’re applying machine learning at quite a detailed level across very specific issues.

Like, you know, we know that apple is one of the clothings one of the big purchase areas and they’re looking at sizing so through them doing tests on sizing. Even though say smaller business may not have machine learning perhaps for several years until it becomes more affordable. That doesn’t stop them doing tests on their pages in terms of affordability.

We’ve actually got a guy Mark Hall who writes in for some of our member content and he was looking at what Nordstrom in the US are doing to because of course with the the shift to mobile. I think a big question for a smaller business. You know how our mobile visitors how good are we at converting them?

Because what you tend to find across the board is that although Mobile smartphone is so popular the conversion rates are actually about half the level of they are of of desktop because people are browsing and it’s more difficult to buy so, you know that that’s a trend that’s Lando the Nordstrom they’re looking at their their product selection and filtering on smartphone.

Okay, let’s more businesses can. Can do that as well. I mean it was interesting in I was looking at I think you link to Shopify don’t you was there one of the big yeah, we big platforms. That is correct. Here. We are partners with them and have been for quite a while now. Yeah, so that they’re always a great because they are one of the larger platforms as many others.

I know but they’ve done some interesting research recently on the Black Friday Cyber Monday, and they were looking at. Channels are driving sales and conversion rates. So they found for example, you know, it’s much easier to get high conversion rates on on email and direct visits than it is in social media.

So, you know looking at how your social media visits are converting is one thing they actually found its now 64 percent of sales. We’re on smartphone. I think you tend to get more people converting on smartphone through these these um sales periods, but it really shows if you’re not segmenting your audience in analytics and saying how we catering for the smartphone visitors.

You’re really it’s likely you’re going to be missing out. So I think I think that’s how small businesses if you like can learn from larger businesses take a look at what you know, they’re investing a lot in to improve and think we’ll how can we. Our journey, I definitely that that makes sense.

That’s one of the things that I always other businesses that I’m talkin to as far as you know, what direction to go. You can really learn a lot from looking at you know, the big guys, you know, of course a small business is not on the level as what they are doing, but you can you can definitely glean some.

Some key things as far as the strategies that they’re doing which regards to email marketing with regards to their ad placement ad copy. I mean the whole because the thing that most people, you know, don’t really realize or they just kind of forget is that these large companies, you know, they are spending millions and millions of dollars to marketing companies that you know are doing a lot ton of research.

And so if you know, if of course, you can’t copy what they do to you know, I had all of course, you will be able to mimic what they’re doing, but you can definitely learn a lot and kind of Base some of your strategies on what they’ve done because it’s you know, it’s really based on solid research and and a huge amount of funding.

Yeah, and whether it’s uh, whether it’s a large. Business or a small business the Believers you pull to get better results. They’re actually quite similar. Everyone’s got a sales funnel. So you mentioned email marketing there and when we research this marketing automation, we find that many businesses.

Everyone’s got an email platform an email and works works well for them as as we saw in that research there, it’s it’s the highest converting right but many businesses. They might have said. Capture email address early on when someone hits the website, but they’ll have quite a basic welcome email.

They won’t they won’t actually optimize that they’ll maybe just send one welcome here email where as some of the big Brands like Clinique the makeup. I know they send three welcome emails. I think there’s ulla they sent five so extending your email program is something that any business can do another example.

Looking at your home page, whether you’re a large business or a small business very likely if you’ve got a brand of people are searching for you. That’s your number one page particularly for returning visitors, and you can test your value proposition. Do I trust you? You know, what’s the offer compared to your competitors by test testing the homepage you can you could have some big wins.

We’ve actually tested that ourselves this year where we’ve just looked at the visual form of identity. We created a new mobile optimized page and we’ve actually used cartoon characters and videos rather than. Some of the flatter imagery and stock photos we’ve used in the past and that’s made a big difference and I’ve seen that with big companies as well.

They’re testing this as well the way they they get across the you know, the discounts and the delivery and that the refunds those are all important sure. Another thing we’ve done just as a practical tip for the guys listening we’ve implemented across all of our table pages one of the stripes you see across.

Page of of the site just below the navigation bar and that’s made a huge difference because it’s not we’re getting that message across across not just on the homepage, you know on the checkout page, but it’s on every page. So yeah, so that’s an example great example, I think what a small business can change quite quickly.

We say do 90-day planning as that’s what we advise you just break it out and say okay we’ve got so much to do. Um, Which is just business as usual, but let’s take one thing that we test each 90 day period or if you’re a bit large, you know two or three things. So this this 90 days we’re going to optimize our homepage the next 90 days.

We’re going to look across these these run of sight. That’s what I commend. Yeah, that’s a great feedback because you know, there’s so much you can focus on a lot of times, you know, you know, I know. Being a part of our business. We’re trying to do a lot with regards to marketing. But you know, if your strategic about it, like you said focus on one thing and that 90-day period it can really, you know, help you, you know, really determine as it’s going to be worth doing a long run and you won’t be distracted where you’re kind of juggling, you know, you’re doing a site-wide message of working optimize your Google AdWords campaign stuff like that, but you’re focusing on one thing that makes sense.

And so, um, you know now. Of course. This webinar is the conversations between 18. I know we touched on a few of them. But what do you think are going to be some of the big trends coming up for this? Uh for the new year coming up? Yeah. I think we’ve talked about some of the bigger Trends. I think there’s also the trends that are perhaps.

A bit less well-known and for me and this is where with the smaller businesses. It’s really looking at your mentioning outwards there. But what can you do with in your organic search marketing is you know, that that’s that’s huge potential if you can get it right? It’s often a challenge to work against the big guys, but one of the the trends which I think is a bit below the radar is something called a MP which is accelerated mobile pages, okay?

And I find Publishers tend to have heard of this because it was introduced a couple of years ago. Now by Google in Google News. It’s now available across all types of pages and uh, smart insights are a publisher. So we’ve had this around a year now and what this does, you know, Google is like obsessed on download speed and Google is favoring these am pages that rather than being served by you know, your website or your host.

Actually served by Google and they appear more or less instantly. So we found through creating these a MP Pages. You see these if you’re on a smartphone by the way, you get these little lightning symbols to show that that those are MP but what I’m what I’m hearing from and I’m hearing this from Google actually there their head of search marketing.

He’s actually the the product lead on a MP. It goes across being as well. I think being a buying into into this and you are so if you’re able to set these up retailers of finding both more visits, but also higher levels of conversion as as well. So I think if your listeners haven’t heard of a MP, it’s definitely worth checking out.

It’s actually a Google neutral project. So they’re pushing it but it’s available from other platforms as well. Yeah, that’s that’s. A great tip and I know a lot of people haven’t haven’t heard of that. So it’s definitely worth looking into you know, and I know for the upcoming Trends we touched on the machine learning.

I know that’s going to be a big area where it’s going to be some advancements with. You know with marketing and kind of anticipating what customers are doing and then providing them with specific ads based on, you know their activities. So that’s just always going to just continue to advance. I know when I was on a previous podcast when we talked a lot about the social media trends and we discussed marketing and advertising influencer marketing and advertising through the Instagrams and the Snapchat.

So I guess the million dollar question that and I propose to our guests then is what’s going to be the future of those platforms or are those just going to be I kind of fly-by-night platform because you know, there’s a lot of hype for Instagram now Snapchat there is but you know, I think maybe it could be starting to fade.

And so I just wonder does it make sense to even for small business to even go that route with those types of news, so. Platforms that everybody that’s trending. I mean, what’s your opinion about that? Yeah. It’s it’s it’s an interesting question because there is a huge opportunity. If you’ve got the right type of product where your audience is active on Instagram.

So fashion in a youth Market is a clear example, if you’re not engaging your audience on on Instagram and because of the visual nature of fashion and fashion trends, that’s a huge mastaba. T / maybe if you’re not in clothing and your more traditional perhaps Electronics retail then actually it may not do anything for you at all.

I think the best way to make a call is is if you look what the big guys are doing on say Instagram or SnapChat right? And if they’re getting good traction then maybe or some of the biggest startups as well. Um, how are they they doing but I think you can’t have a one-size-fits-all. Particularly for e-commerce think you know Marc Marquez Love Organic social because it’s free, but when you look at actually what drives sales like I’ve seen some data from across u.s.

Retail businesses. The larger ones. It is actually pretty small the top the top three are always organic Page search affiliate marketing and email is up there. That’s for top four. But when you look at Social so direct social leading to sales, it’s actually two percent on the last click, you know, two to three percent of all sales.

So from that sense, I can’t get that excited. Yeah, unless it’s a sector where it’s really a sweet spot on it does work. Well, right. It depends like you said, there’s no one-size-fits-all for some businesses. It can work well and it does make sense to look at what the big guys are doing. But what I was recommend is just don’t put all of your eggs.

One basket, you know don’t put a huge amount of marketing dollars and and you know, those things that you know, they could be fly-by-night deals, you know, the Snapchats or the Instagram and so yeah, I think it’s properly stabilized now though hasn’t it has a bit. We have got that top five and they’re here to stay for most consumer audiences.

You know, Facebook and Instagram. Gimme maybe Snapchat. That’s the jury’s still out on that one, right but I think paid. Always worth a mention as well because I know smaller businesses don’t like to pay for media. But if it’s effective media like AdWords can be then paid so sure is it’s worth looking at and I think that’s a trend as well sure as the likes of Facebook and obviously the own Instagram.

They’re reducing your opportunity for organic reach, right. So if you’re not doing retargeting using Facebook where people who already visited your site or there exist, Customers if you’re not using techniques like customer match Google or similar audiences in Facebook to remind people, you know, that’s a trend to doing that even among smaller businesses.

I mean we smart insights we get like half a million visits a month mostly through organic search, but we still pay for those social and Google AdWords reminders this retargeting right? I I think that’s a trend is as well that everyone can take advantage of yeah. Yeah. I start I’m seeing a lot more of that the retargeting and then the social retargeting as well.

And so one of the things that we always like to do at the end of the podcast here is if you can provide us with one thing that an e-commerce business can do right now to help them increase their traffic sales and help them business grow, you know, if it’s something that you’re familiar with or what would you recommend?

I think I’ve probably mentioned five on the course. I won’t go through them again. I I think if I had to choose one. Yeah, I would say it’s a be testing. Okay and ran a test on your home page or your run of sight messages of why people should buy from you that can have a great uplift. Okay, great.

Yeah definitely makes sense because homepage is very important. The only thing I always wonder though about AP testing and I’ve heard from other marketers and you can maybe chime in. Is that what I heard sometimes is that. You’re getting a large enough amount of traffic a be testing really is really not even worth doing.

Is that true or what’s your take on that? Yeah, that’s that’s an interesting. That’s quite a big question. But if a smaller amid medium business, it is a challenge because if you’re doing a test on an individual page and it’s got let’s say few hundred. Yeah. It’s a lot of look at statistical significance.

Exactly really should be looking at 10,000 visits and up and that’s partly mention the home page. But also why I mention those run of sight tests where you’ve got the messaging across every page. I mean, I’ll give you an example of what we ran on Smart insights like a lot of retailers. We’ve got as a publisher we want to get.

Capture people’s emails of address on the first visit. So we already had this actually and we were talkin to a conversion rate agency and they were saying okay, you’ve got this nice popper. It’s well branded but have any customer testimonials on it. And this was accounting for like 30 percent of our email subscribers.

So what we did was across the bottom. They said you need some social proof. So we’ve done some customer research and we just put in three customer testimonials. In the names of three people from three different businesses saying why they worked with us and that actually increased dark conversion to subscription for that pop up by 10% actually completed in a week.

Okay across every page of the site. So you’re completely right. I think testing is sometimes shown as a silver bullet big changes and there across a lot of the pages then every business can. Advantage, yeah, that is true. This the small changes great. We appreciate that that answer and I appreciate you joining us here today on our own the Commerce marketing podcast Dave.

What are some ways people can get in touch with you if they do want to reach you social channels of of course. Yes Martin sites, you can check out our advice but LinkedIn is the the platform I prefer. So yeah, if anyone’s got any questions or just to follow my updates on. On LinkedIn Dave Chaffee see a double is uh, be happy to connect on there.

Okay, great. Well, thanks again Dave, and we appreciate all of your insightful advice on the Trends. They pass Trends in 2017, and the current upcoming trends of the Commerce trends of 2018. Thank you for inviting me and I’ll just say all the best to everyone for applying some of these techniques in 2018.

All right, great. Thanks again. Thank you for. Sing to the e-commerce marketing podcast to access eCommerce videos and other resources to help your business. Grow. Please visit get forward slash videos subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for e-commerce marketing podcast, and please leave a rating and a review.

Thanks for listening. See you next time.

Podcast Guest Info

Dave Chaffey
Co-Founder Smart Insights