Category: Promotions Strategy

How Industry Leaders Are Approaching The Post-Covid Landscape

Five key insights from leading retail industry leaders on how they are approaching business differently in the post-COVID era.

Roughly three months have passed since businesses began shutting down across the US as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, signaling the start of an economic downturn and a completely new way of operating for many brands and retailers.

Now, as restrictions are slowly lifted (to varying degrees), business leaders are tasked with reshaping the way they manage almost every part of their company.

Recently, the Thrive Commerce team hosted a roundtable discussion with CEOs, CMOs, eCommerce leaders, Senior Marketers and retail consultants to hear what companies, big and small, are doing differently in the post- COVID era. Here are a few trends that surfaced:

1. Buying cycles and inventory management may have changed forever
As brands and manufacturers look to take more control of their own destiny, the traditional cycle of seasonal sell-in is quickly fading. The need to react to the moment and operate under shorter lead times and inventory turns, paired with the desire to reduce the risk of inventory backlogs due to uncontrollable macro-factors, means 6-months buys and seasonal planning are starting to morph into the cycles used by fast-fashion and hype brands. Brands that are able to build a zero-inventory model (manufacturing on-demand), even at diminished margins, or can create a more flexible supply chain, hold a clear advantage.

“This moment could be extremely eye-opening for D2C Brands” says John Woodman, Global Ecommerce Sr. Director of Reebok. “Traditional wholesale models that large companies tend to rally around makes no sense to the consumer and has no bearing on the consumer, but yet it drives a lot of our decision making and the go-to-market process. Companies may start to realize how much they are missing out on by sticking to this antiquated wholesale selling milestone model.”

2. Product seasonality is also changing
Thanks to changing workplace policies – and work from home / flexible hour opportunities – some products that were once stuck in pockets of seasonality are now year-round hits. Slippers are home office footwear of choice, and no longer a cozy winter commodity, said one Sr Director of Marketing for a Top 50 Internet Retailer. “Fortunately for us, we have an evergreen assortment placed through marketplace channels, which includes slippers and sandals. As more people shifted to working from home, we had a significant spike in demand which saved us during the Pandemic. This has also accelerated our marketplace strategy since the buyer may not be in the same buying cycle that our company is and has taught us an important lesson to stay nimble in order to meet unique demand in the future.”

 

Additionally, some brands are finding that vacation and travel related items and services may be more evenly distributed throughout the year as companies allow for more flexible vacation and work from home. A trend that could be here to stay.

3. Transparency Is a Win-Win
Discounting and liquidation has been a consequence of prolonged store closings and wary shopper sentiment during these last several months. “But it doesn’t have to create permanent damage to your brand,” says Founder and Board Chair of a leading ecommerce mattress brand. “Tell your customers the truth and you won’t have to discount heavily. Companies are afraid to tell the truth, but being transparent is paramount and won’t damage your core brand, especially when you reward your best and most loyal customers. They will say ‘thank you’ and support you when you need them the most.”

 

Others also suggested to proactively communicate shipping delays and out of stock / delayed inventory, and to not be afraid to share why. If you had to buy back large quantities of inventory, don’t be afraid to tell your customers that due to a Pandemic (or some other yet-to-happen hardship), you are running a discount on certain items; even if those items are typically price-protected top sellers.

4. Creativity Breeds Opportunity!
Faced with the challenge of needing to liquidate their products with an expiration date due to wholesale closures, Anthony Volpe of BioSteel used creativity to drive significant database growth. By leveraging their celebrity brand partners to give away a product in exchange for an email address, the brand was able to move thousands of units that may have otherwise expired on the shelves of a currently closed retailer. Anthony and his team successfully moved this product and with over 90% of emails collected being new to file.

 

“We have a strong LTV today, but as a challenger brand, we are always looking for ways to increase awareness and drive product trial. We have another 3-6 months to see the long-term impact of this, but we are very excited about the results so far.”

 

By putting together a strong retention program based on what they know about these consumers interests and associations, subsequent orders and lifetime value should more than pay for the product costs in the long term.

5. Be prepared to work harder than ever to build a strong team culture Whether you’re touting “Work From Home Forever” (we see you, Twitter) or simply expect a slow re-opening to your office building, keeping the teams happily working together will be no small task. As one hiring manager put it “Virtual happy hours can only replace a trip to the bar for so long. The lack of personal touch is hard to overcome.” On the flip side, team building that may have felt forced – and even earned some eye rolls – during pre-COVID times may now serve a bigger purpose.

 

Team trivia events with separate Zoom or Hangout rooms and predetermined teams force collaboration between co-workers who may otherwise never selectively interact socially. Group fitness sessions are less intimidating when there is a screen separating co-workers from the grunts, sights (and smells…) of peers grinding through a workout. Book club is a little more comfortable from your own couch, when no one can see just how much of that wine bottle you’ve made it through.

The #1 Underutilized SEO Tip for Retailers that Drive Real Results

In online retail, where every new visitor could be a sale, SEO strategies that generate tens of thousands of new visits per month mean a lot more dough for brands. It’s reported that over 44% of all eCommerce traffic comes from search engines (nChannel), making SEO something that retailers can’t ignore.

Though if you’re here, you already know that, and you’re most likely well-versed in the many tried and true SEO best practices for eCommerce and retail brands. There are a lot of resources available from well-known experts like Neil Patel and Moz. They talk about how to optimize eCommerce sites with foundational best practices and current tips to keep you up-to-date on the latest algorithm changes. That’s not what we are going to get into here.

We’re going to talk about a set of keywords that many brands overlook, don’t focus on, or think aren’t for them. A set of words that 96% of shoppers are looking for. A set of search terms that generate hundreds of millions in revenue for affiliates. 

This is about how to use SEO strategies to reclaim revenue from affiliates who don’t add any brand value. 

This is about how to take back market share of shoppers searching for your brand. 

So what’s the most underutilized SEO strategy? 

Shoppers are searching for in droves for these terms, but brands struggle to rank well for them. There are two main reasons we see that brands don’t always rank well.

For one, coupon and promotion content doesn’t naturally live on an eCommerce site in a searchable, SEO-friendly way. Incentives are often images on home pages, top banners for free shipping, in emails, on social media. As a result, shoppers head on a scavenger hunt every time they want to make a purchase.

In many cases, the only place they are aggregated is on coupon affiliate sites. And they have more than proven the worth of optimizing for coupon and promotion search terms. In 2017, RetailMeNot was sold for $630 Million and in 2019, Honey sold for $4 Billion. According to SEMRush, RetailMeNot ranks #1 for 136.7 THOUSAND keywords.

Second, some brands choose not to go after this group of keywords because they don’t see themselves as a promotional brand, or they are working to be less promotional. We get that, however shoppers don’t care about your business strategy. They are still searching for your coupons.

For example, Apple, a top brand that isn’t promotional, doesn’t rank on the first few Google pages for “Apple Coupons”. RetailMeNot however, ranks #1 for over 75 coupon-related Apple search terms with over 42,000 in monthly search volume. That is a lot of traffic they are giving up. It’s also a lot of conversations that Apple could control with content.

There are some brands that successfully target these search terms and outrank coupon affiliates. 70% of the top 10 retailers from the NRF Top 100 Retailers rank #1 for “[brand name] coupons”, while only 50% of the last 10 do (excludes grocery, gas, and restaurant brands).

How to Rank for Coupon + Search Terms 

The good news is, it’s not that hard for brands to reclaim a lot of this revenue.  But as with all SEO investment, it takes time and commitment. Thrive has proven this strategy many times over, to reclaim the revenue from coupon affiliates and take back market share. 

  1. Complete keyword research on your brand, product and category keywords related to coupons and promotions. Determine which keywords are the most attractive to target. 

  2. Create a page dedicated to hosting your promotions and SEO-optimized copy. We recommend making a multi-page structure that targets specific product categories by page.   

  3. Maintain and optimize the page(s) and content, which includes things like keeping content fresh, implementing a backlinking strategy, optimizing load speed, and user-friendly design and functionality updates.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Thrive’s clients use this strategy via our product, Smart Pages, an SEO-optimized multi-page solution that houses a brand’s coupons and promotions. While, results do vary across clients depending on existing authority, product variety and SEO capabilities, we consistently see this solution work on multiple KPIs. 

For example, in the last year, a client saw a 333% increase in the number of search terms ranking #1 for brand specific coupon and promotion terms. They also saw a 500% increase in similar search terms ranking #1 that did not include their brand (ex. product-specific coupon terms).

seo for online retail strategy

Additionally, this page can end up being one of your top performing organic pages. For many of our clients, we are one of the top 5 pages on a site for organic clicks. Here are a few client examples based on Google Search Console results (4Q’19):

high ranking SEO page for ecommerce

Not only does this solution drive more traffic to your eCommerce site, it drives high-intent traffic. These shoppers are further along in their purchasing decision and much more likely to convert than the average visitor to a site. In fact, across clients, shoppers who interact with Smart Pages are 339% more likely to convert than those who don’t. And over one third of clients consistently reach over 400%. 

This solution also improves metrics like revenue per session and average order value. Thrive clients on average improve average order values by 9.2% (however this does vary based on specific promotions).

Committed to SEO Excellence

At Thrive Commerce, we started investing years ago in our SEO-focused product, Smart Pages. We have continually focused on improving our product – from load speed to user-friendly design and everything in between – with the goal of better rankings and results for our clients. It shows in our results today and over time.

It’s definitely possible to execute this strategy yourself, but if you’re looking for a plug and play option,  then drop us a line.


We help clients harness the power of their promotions.

Interested in learning more? Book a demo today. 

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Reduce Cart Abandonment with these 4 Proven Solutions

There’s nothing more frustrating than cart abandonment. Shoppers visit a site, add items to their cart and then… poof! They’re gone without purchasing their items.

Shopping cart abandonment is a true problem for most online retailers. In fact, according to data collected by SaleCycle, in the third quarter of 2018, the average cart abandonment rate for retail sites was a whopping 75.8 percent. Why are so many online shoppers leaving before checking out? We’ll tell you, and how to keep them. 

Top 5 Reasons for Cart Abandonment

One of the best things about shopping online is that it is the ultimate window-shopping experience. Most shoppers love to browse, and should they see something they like, they can simply add the item to their shopping cart, so they don’t forget about it. The Internet makes it easier than ever to peruse.

But, while there’s not much that can be done about window-shoppers, there are other reasons why carts go abandoned that you can do something about. According to a recent survey by Baymard, the most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment include:

  1. The extra costs are too high: 55 percent of cart abandonments
  2. Had to create an account before checking out: 34 percent of cart abandonments
  3. Overly complex checking out process: 26 percent of cart abandonments
  4. Total final cost was hidden: 21 percent of cart abandonments
  5. Security concerns: 17 percent of cart abandonments

4 Cart Abandonment Solutions That Work

If you want to reduce cart abandonments on your site (and who doesn’t?), here are four proven tips, tricks and solutions that can help.

1:  Simplicity

For starters, nothing should interrupt the purchasing process. The checkout process should be simple, short and seamless. Start by offering express checkout options like Google Pay and PayPal. Though remember not all shoppers will prefer those payment methods. For everyone else, do not distract your shoppers by asking them to create an account before they checkout. Instead, ask that they create an account after they have completed their purchase and suggest it in a way that focuses on why they might want to create an account, i.e. to check out even faster next time, get special deals. Keeping your checkout process simple can help reduce cart abandonments by as much as 26 percent.

2: Transparency

Transparency is also important for keeping cart abandonment rates low. Keep things like security, policies, shipping costs, returns and refund information and extra costs clearly visible. This will boost your site’s trustworthiness and negates any last-minute surprises, making it easier for your visitors to buy from you. Check out this example that covers security, shipping, returns and a guarantee on one screen. 

3: Promotions Availability

It’s estimated that over 85 percent of shoppers use coupons and many of them will pause their checkout process to go look for them. A very powerful and effective way to keep shoppers moving through the sales funnel is to include a link to your promotions and deals in their shopping cart. Not only does this keep shoppers on your site, it also leads to happier shoppers by eliminating the frustration that so commonly comes with broken codes from thirds party sites. Based on Thrive’s clients using our Smart Button tool, this simple solution alone reduces cart abandonment rates by 8.12 percent.

4: Positive & Clear Messaging

A simple test of different CTA’s and messaging during the checkout process can increase checkout rates. Encourage your shoppers to complete their sale by using positive text cues like “Beautiful Choice” or “Great Picks”. Copy that subtly helps reinforce to the shopper that they are making a good buying decision can increase checkout rates by over 30 percent.

Reduce Cart Abandonment Once and For All

There’s nothing you can do to stop all your shoppers from abandoning their carts, but there are things you can do to reduce some cart abandonment. The recommendations made above are proven effective and they can help you increase your revenue through higher sales conversions. Thrive’s Smart Button is designed to keep the majority (remember 85%!) of shoppers on your site and help them navigate toward a positive purchasing decision. It’s an easy and effective way to keep your promotions and deals in front of your shoppers’ eyes and right where they can be taken advantage of. If you want to see your cart abandonment rates decline or you want to learn more about the ways Smart Button can help your sales, then contact Thrive today and speak to one of our e-commerce advisors.

Wet N Wild Lifts Revenue Per Session 200% with Promotions Optimization

Wet n Wild (WNW) is found in stores across the country, but had not previously focused many resources online. Seeing today’s opportunity and necessity to build their direct-to-consumer eCommerce channel, they tapped Thrive Commerce in early 2019 to help with their promotions strategy, increasing revenue per session, and on-site conversion. Read More

Back in Black Friday: 3 Ways to Maximize Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals

The holiday season is quickly approaching and you’re probably already making plans to avoid your in-laws, but more importantly, for a big hitting holiday campaign. Read More

Coupons, Sales, Incentives – Oh My!

Here’s how to leverage incentives to improve SEO and customer acquisition. Read More

How to Reduce Friction Throughout the Shopper Funnel

We all know that shoppers today expect more ease, simplicity and personalization in their buying experience. It’s been a priority in the retail industry for years – reducing friction throughout the shopper journey. Reducing friction is key for long-term success, however a lot of the solutions are focused on fancy new toys, like in-store AI or Augmented Reality. But what if you could just be smarter with a tool you already have in your arsenal to combat friction? Well you can, with promotions and here’s how.

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