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Author: Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher was the Deputy Editor at Econsultancy. He runs pop culture site Methods Unsound and you can hound him on Twitter @Christophe_Rock.

What is customer retention and why do you need it?

They came, they bought, they went away and never came back. 

You've driven a customer to your site with an effective paid search campaign, you've kept their attention with some beautifully persuasive design and a first class user experience. 

Then by making the checkout as hassle free as possible and by offering them free shipping and a terrific returns policy you've given them an exemplary ecommerce experience... Fantastic work! Now you can go home early and watch Adventure Time. 

But wait! How do you encourage your customers to come back? How do you use the goodwill fostered during that first experience into something even more meaningful?

Alright you don't have to go off and buy a boat together, but it would be great if they popped their head round the door every so often in the future. After all retention costs far less than acquisition and achieving higher customer lifetime value makes your business a much stronger prospect for the future. 

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12 free email marketing templates for small businesses

We love email marketing here at Econsultancy. It may not be the hippest, sexiest method of driving traffic to your business but by gosh it works.

However if it’s the early days of your company you may assume that email marketing is something you might do further down the line, once you’ve grown bigger than a fold up desk in your basement.

It doesn’t help that social media channels provide immediate gratification and with only a little determination can achieve growth with relative ease and speed. Plus social media channels are hip and sexy.

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How Zappos uses social media: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The US online fashion retailer makes a rather bold statement in the about section of its website.

“Customer service isn’t just a department!” The entire organisation is built around one sole mission: to provide the best customer service possible.

A lot of brands may say that customer experience is at the core of their strategy, but how many follow through with this statement in practice?

Graham Charlton discussed what Zappos could teach us about staff and customer retention last month. It’s largely about making the working environment as happy as possible through plenty of staff recognition, trust, responsibility and plenty of perks.

For the customer it means ‘delivering a WOW philosophy’ through excellent service, customer focused metrics, surprising people through under-promising and over-delivering and remaining ever personal.

So Zappos delivers ‘happiness’ for its employees and for its website customers. How about its social channels? Given Zappos focus on customer service, does this extend to the channels where more and more consumers are expecting interaction from brands?

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Three key insights from our new Enterprise Priorities in Digital Marketing report

How has marketing changed? In what ways does it still need to change?

Although there are many answers to these common questions, with huge topics such as social, content, mobile and data coming into play, the one thing that remains abundantly clear is that the customer is now in charge.

Building a customer first approach should be the main priority in all business strategies, particularly as we begin to understand the power of data and how it can help us create deeper, more meaningful and accurate customer engagement.

But how have these customer-empowered channels reshaped marketing budgets? How has the use of digital marketing channels caused the marketing landscape to evolve? How have marketers leveraged their technology investments to build stronger customer relationships?

We asked these questions and more to 402 senior marketers from global enterprises for our new Enterprise Priorities in Digital Marketing report in association with Teradata.

This research has the goal of providing guidance for the future through specific benchmarks from digital marketing leaders from various global organisations, focusing on the technology priorities, the strategies they support and the marketing budgets with which they’re aligned.

Here are some of the key findings…

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25 most thrilling branded Vines and Instagram videos of all time

Here is our tribute to the most wildly exhilarating, hair-raising, knee-weakening mini advertorial marvels you can watch in less than six or 15 seconds.

Think this list will be dominated by GoPro and Red Bull? Well yes obviously a few of them will be by those titans of extreme content marketing, but you’ll be surprised at how many other brands are getting in on the danger-courting game.

It’s pretty obvious why footage of daredevil escapades work so well on social, dangerous stunts and high adventure speak to our very basic desire to be gripped from the safety of our small screens, and these videos are some of quickest to pick up velocity across channels.

Plus with advancements in hardware, especially thanks to GoPro itself, it’s now possible to capture events from angles never dreamt of before.

Climb inside the helmet of a deep-sea diver, cling to the end of a skateboard as it does a 360-degree flip, jump out of a balloon hovering above the stratosphere. All is possible now and the only limit is human endurance.

If you want some killer advice on how to improve your own social video efforts then check out these best practice guides: how brands can be brilliant at Vine and how brands can be brilliant at Instagram video.

In the meantime, here’s some compelling inspiration…

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How First Direct handles social customer service

It matters little whether you’re a shoe retailer or an online bank, if your brand operates a social channel, consumers will want to talk to you on it.

As I discovered in last week’s investigation into how 20 top UK retailers handle social customer service, the most successful brands are the ones that are not only quick to respond, but also genuinely helpful and clearly written with personality.

This is all well and good in retail, where perhaps it’s more acceptable to adopt a more relaxed, fun tone of voice, but how difficult is it for a financial services brand to not only maintain an efficient customer service channel that fully complies with banking regulations that’s also human?

Today I talked to senior communications manager Amanda Brown at First Direct to gain some insight into how the online and telephone based bank handles customers on social. 

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How 16 retail banks handle social customer service

Last week I conducted an investigation into how 20 top UK retailers handle social customer service. It was a fascinating insight into the world of Twitter customer care and revealed just how a consumer’s experience can vary from brand to brand.

This week I’m turning my attention to retail banking. 

Earlier today I interviewed First Direct’s senior communications manager Amanda Brown and learnt some best practice tips as well as guidance on what to expect from aiming a Twitter enquiry towards a bank.

Will I experience the same level of personality as I did with non-banking retail brands? Will I have to be taken to a more secure channel? Will the banking industry just be too busy to answer my question?

Let’s find out…

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12 bewilderingly bright ecommerce sites for your instant attention

Finally an excuse to wear your sunglasses around the office.

One of the easiest ways for a website to immediately grab the attention of a visitor is to turn the colour up. Way up.

If you’re of a particularly bold inclination, I for one am hugely attracted to bright solid colours or anything neon, you’ll appreciate it when a site breaks out of the usual whites, greys and blacks of typical ecommerce design.

It separates you from the crowd. It’s a statement of independence. It’s a statement of rebellion. Sure not everyone will dig your new hypercoloured threads, but just remember that the squares can keep their greys… You’ve gone Technicolor. 

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LEGO: putting community first with five inspiring social campaigns

LEGO makes for a brilliant and satisfying case study for hundreds of reasons. 

It helps that it’s one of the most beloved brands on the planet, appealing across generations and ages. It constantly remains relevant by aligning itself with quality licenses and innovations, whilst staying true to its own brand identity. 

It also has achieved content marketing triumphs that most other brands would kill for and a social strategy that puts the majority of its focus on community engagement.

Therefore it’s great idea to check in with the company on a regular basis to see what it’s been doing on its digital channels, to offer inspiration for your own endeavours.

We also have LEGO’s global head of social media Lars Silberbauer-Anderson talking at our Festival of Marketing in November, so please join us for a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry.

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How these five ecommerce stores can improve their checkouts

Writing on this blog affords me a rare opportunity to talk positively and constructively about things that I care about. Which makes a change from the usual negative bile I spew on other websites and at home. 

We have a responsibility to offer guidance, tips and best practice to help improve everyone’s digital experiences and we love highlighting examples that we think will offer inspiration.

I don’t think we’ve ever said “Brand X sucks”, at least not without offering constructive criticism or highlighting where things could be improved.

But when we’re researching certain topics, as I was doing last week when investigating whether top UK retailers use guest checkouts it’s difficult not to be frustrated with poor user experiences and thoughtless design.

This article is designed to show how a few of the poorer checkouts I’ve experienced could be improved, with just a few simple tweaks. This isn’t for naming and shaming; it’s for prodding in the right direction for the benefit of their customers. 

Graham Charlton wrote a cracking post on 11 of the world’s best ecommerce checkouts which I encourage you to read as it contains essential advice for best practice.

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What is storytelling for brands and why do you need it?

‘Storytelling!’ It’s up there with ‘big data’ as a phrase that’s kind of annoying but has yet to be improved upon by a better alternative. 

Ultimately shorthand phrases are necessary because they save time. I’ve been guilty in the past of going ludicrously around the block to avoid the phrase ‘big data’. I believe if you look back through my previous articles you will find far more instances of me saying “the massive volume of available data” rather than “big data”.

I realise now that this is stupid. Most digital marketers know what you mean when you use ‘big data’ so therefore just say it. The annoyance comes from when people either use it wrong or use it blindly, this is why buzzwords are so excruciating. 

So how about ‘storytelling’ then? It’s not only a phrase we’ve all heard at conferences and meeting rooms for a number of years now, but it’s also one we’ve grasped from our earliest days. 

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Basket abandonment emails: three examples of varying quality

After my investigation last week into whether top ecommerce sites offer guest checkouts I sat back and awaited the barrage of retargeted display ads and basket abandonment emails to fill up my inbox.

Fair enough, after all I have just submitted my email address to 45 different UK and US ecommerce brands and unceremoniously abandoned 45 carts filled with random goods on their sites. I deserve everything I get.

However the barrage didn’t really happen...

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