Category: B2CRM News

B2CRM News

Barbie Benefitted from a Digital Boost

As we’ve seen here, some brands that had been waning over the past generation were actually boosted by the pandemic. One of the surprises in this category was the Barbie brand from Mattel.

Even with toy stores closed for months during lockdown, Mattel’s e-commerce sale surged by 50% in the third quarter of 2020. As reported in The Drum, the renewed interest in Barbie revamped for the present generation combined with a digital strategy was the perfect combination to appeal to children seeking an outlet when stuck at home.

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The brand ramped up its efforts on digital by expanding its video content. That includes YouTube, where Barbie plays the role of a social media influencer with makeup tutorials and Netflix films in which she stars.

“We saw kids starting to rapidly consume this content, so we had to rethink everything,” Lisa McKnight, senior vice-president and global head of Barbie and dolls for Mattel, told The Drum.

The Drum reports that Barbie’s gaming app, Dream House Adventures, surpassed 71m downloads this year. Mattel is also bringing the doll to life by working on an “integration with Alexa that lets kids ‘speak’ to Barbie and explore her many careers on the Echo device.”

But it’s not just about more products and content but personalized digital marketing. As McKnight explained, “We’re investing in a lot of up-the-funnel marketing and listening to the trends to make sure we’re serving up the right products to customers.”

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B2CRM News

Brandefy App Delivers Beauty Bargains

You get what you pay for doesn’t necessarily apply to beauty products, cheaper versions of cosmetics can get you the same results.

Not all apps have a clearly defined mission, but Brandefy does: “By 2025, we will have helped over 30 million people make better choices on beauty products through our community and services.”

The pandemic has been a boon to the app, likely with more people doing research before ordering something online rather than picking things up on impulse at stores. They also would have been more likely to find subscription boxes appealing, and so the app sets up partnerships with beauty brands for just that service.

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The app draws about 30,000 active users on a monthly basis, reports Glossy. In 2020, its growth exploded to the tune of 330% over last year.

That represents a lot of buyers of beauty boxes. The deal is that the brands give the app the products for free, gaining only the Brandefy promotion. Customers benefit by getting the box of four products (not tiny trial sizes but full-size items) for just $15.

Glossy quoted the app’s founder, Meg Pryde, who observed, “Consumers are no longer one-brand people.”

In the case of cosmetics, that means that they won’t religiously buy one brand and will look to get the same results with cheaper alternatives.

She went on to explain how the app fits today’s cosmetics customers:

“The consumer is so much more educated. They recognize that the margins in beauty and skin care, especially, are just enormous, and that there are certainly companies out there that aren’t trying to capture that insane margin.”

That’s why they look for “dupes” of pricey items made by more affordable brands. This thrifty beauty trend is one that has taken off, largely thanks to YouTube and other social media influencers.

It has a place on Instagram, Reddit, and even TikTok, according to Glossy. It reported that the hashtag #makeupdupes has 63.5 million views and the hashtag #dupes has 154.4 million.

Given the medium as well as the message, this is a great way to reach younger women who have to stick to a budget for beauty expenditures. Accordingly, Glossy reports that the overwhelming majority of Brandefy users are younger than 34, and many are still students in college.

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Privacy Advocates Fight Back with Ad Nauseam

Resisting ads on Google may be futile, but some are still not giving up the fight. Specifically, the people behind Ad Nauseam are dedicated to an approach that may be summed up as “if you can’t bear ‘em, obfuscate ‘em.”

It describes its function as “Clicking ads so you don’t have to.” You can download Ad Nauseam 3.9 for Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.

The browser extension is born out of the fact that even Ad Blockers have limits as the anti-ad-blocker software has learned to detect ads being blocked and so will take some kind of action anti-ad-blocker software has learned to detect ads being blocked and so will take some kind of action against those visitors who prefer not to have their digital experience dominated by ads.

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Ad Nauseam offers a brief explanation on its site:

As online advertising becomes ever more ubiquitous and unsanctioned, AdNauseam works to complete the cycle by automating ad clicks universally and blindly on behalf of its users. Built atop uBlock Origin, AdNauseam quietly clicks on every blocked ad, registering a visit on ad networks’ databases. As the collected data gathered shows an omnivorous click-stream, user tracking, targeting and surveillance become futile.

Those who wish to learn more about it are encouraged to click on the link to an eight-page long PDF entitled “Engineering Privacy and Protest: a Case Study of AdNauseam.”

It’s quite coherent and concise for an ideological manifesto and answers questions about why they take this particular approach.

 

For example, the answer to why the extension is set to click the ads instead of ignoring them is the following paragraph:

A critic might ask: Why click? Why not simply hide ads from users and hide users from trackers? There are two reasons. First, AdNauseam is inspired by the path-breaking work of Priscilla Regan, who argued that beyond the protection of individual interests, privacy may serve social ends, similar to collective goods such as clean air or national defense [38]. This notion of privacy as a collective good presents interesting engineering and evaluation challenges, which, in our view, warrant close attention. Thus, AdNauseam may stimulate deliberation not only on its particular features, but may draw attention to the conception of privacy it seeks to promote. A second reason for clicking, as opposed to simply blocking, is that AdNauseam seeks concurrently to achieve the goal of expressive resistance to tracking through protest. And since protest generally involves being vocal, AdNauseam’s design seeks to give voice to users. Rather than enacting privacy as concealment, AdNauseam provides a means for users to express, in plain sight, their dissent by disrupting the dominant model of commercial surveillance. This approach embodies a principle drawn from the theory of contextual integrity, namely, privacy as appropriate flow of information [36]. Thus, AdNauseam does not hide deliberate clicks from trackers but rather, by surrounding these clicks with decoy clicks, obfuscates inferences from clicks to users’ interests, which may be manipulated in various ways, including via behavioral advertising. AdNauseam does not block clicks; instead, it blocks inappropriate access to interest profiles that trackers may infer from them

So, you see, these are rebels who are quite clear about their cause and their tactics. That there is a need for such a position and such a solution should remind marketers that forcing ads on people is counter productive.

By associating your brand with coercive tactics, you get the opposite of a halo effect. In other words, it’s likely to turn your customers off and certainly won’t make them feel more loyal to you.

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B2CRM News

Pet Portraits Promote Passion for Chewy

If you have a dog or cat yourself or know someone who does, you know about the adoration people develop for their pets. Tapping into that feeling to promote a brand is the genius behind Chewy’s strategy of sending out free oil paintings of people’s pets.

AP News reported that Chewy has sent out over a thousand of them, selecting its recipients each week: “In the cutthroat world of online shopping, that personal touch and a bit of kitsch is how Chewy is looking to stand out among the competition, which has only gotten stiffer as more people shop online and add pandemic pets to their families.”

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The article quotes one of the recipients of a free portrait, Danielle Schwartz, saying that she was so impressed to get “something so personal,” that now she would “buy everything from them.”

The idea of delighting customers by wowing them is one that the late founder of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, advocated in his book, Delivering Happiness. As eCommerce brands need to distinguish themselves somehow to draw in customers on something other than price, it becomes a challenge to win them over through a positive experience. Hence the surprise painting.

Customers who are delighted to receive an oil painting not only feel more loyal; they share their enthusiasm with the world on social media. That translates into the equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendation at scale – something money alone can’t buy without the suspicion of influencers singing the praises of those who pay them.

The personal touch is completely on brand for Chewy. As AP reports, the company makes a point of sending out handwritten notes to customers, as well as paper holiday cards to all. Those bereaved of their pets even get flowers. Aw!

Chewy is now entering its second decade, though it has yet to achieve a profit, according to the AP report. Despite that, it is now valued at over $40 billion.

It has been increasing its share of pet spending in the United States. It’s been climbing steadily, estimated to have hit $99 billion this past year. Amazon still beats it for online pet supplies at the rate of 50% to 34%, AP explains, citing retail consulting firm, 1010data.

But the lockdowns and fear of visiting stores in person have increased online orders in general, not to mention pet ownership. As a result, Chewy gained 5 million customers within the year, an increase that brings its total number to close to 18 million. It also enjoyed huge gains in its stock price.

“It helped ease the pain,” says Jordan Redman of Norman, Oklahoma, who received a bouquet of flowers after Bud, her golden retriever, died.

But it’s the paintings that have customers panting. There’s no way to purchase one from Chewy, and the company doesn’t exactly say how someone will be selected. But it typically sends them out to those that have pet photos on their Chewy account or have shared one with a customer service agent.

For clues, look to the experience of Danielle Moore, who said Chewy asked her to send a photo of her Australian cattle dog, Kana, during a call about returning an order. Kana’s likeness showed up three months later. Moore loved it so much she tried to purchase another through Chewy, but the customer service agent wouldn’t budge. Instead, the chemist from Dallas commissioned one for $36 on Etsy, and the paintings hang on a wall together.

Chewy doesn’t disclose the cost of making and sending the portraits. It has worked with hundreds of artists around the country who are emailed photos of their subjects by the company.

Josh Lawson, who paints 20 to 50 portraits a week, has done snakes, goats and even what he thinks were bison. It can take two hours or more to do a portrait. Fluffy kittens, for example, need extra attention and a long-tip brush to get the right amount of fluff. “I want to make them look real,” he says.

There’s pressure to do so. Chewy says it rejects artwork that doesn’t look enough like the pet or sends it back to be reworked. The goal is for people to talk up Chewy to others and to get a prime spot on shopper’s walls, serving as a billboard for the company.

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B2CRM News

2020 Was the Year of The QR Code

Did you know that QR stands for quick response? Most people don’t think of that and didn’t think much of those symbols meant to be scanned by phones to access information.

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These symbols actually have a longer history than many would suppose, and back in 1994, they were anticipated as the replacement for the barcode. That didn’t happen, and they didn’t really realize the potential such coding held for quite some time.

But 2020 was a different kind of year, and one that saw QR code use surge. As reported in Modern Retail, this past year, “ they’ve become a dominant way small businesses conduct payments, as well as made their way onto product packaging and in direct mail catalogues.”

Modern Retail references Statista’s estimates that by the end of 2020, “an estimated 11 million households will scan a QR code.” That’s because this year there was, “a 35% increase in the number of interactions per object or sign,” according to Blue Bite.

Sellers, ranging from 1800 Flowers to major clothing designers and a whole bevy of beer brands found innovative ways to use QR codes to engage their customers and promote their products this year. That trend is expected to continue.

The article cites Maggie Bryan, director of UX at Stink Studios, a New York-based advertising agency as observing, “Whether it’s thinking about product demos enabled with QR codes instead of touch screens or investing in digital experiences over traditional retail, 2021 is going to be different.”

After so many years, even decades of being overlooked, the humble QR code may finally have taken on a starring role. Timing is everything, and that applies even to tech that’s been around for a while.

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B2CRM News

Fashion Brands Email with Empathy and a Positive Outlook

For 2020, brands sought to build a connection with their customers based not only their products but on shared aspirations and good works, something they reflect on as we enter a new year.

Just like every year, the last quarter was dominated by a barrage of promotions to buy for the holidays followed by the post-holiday sales. But this year, there is also another aspect to emailed communication at the end of December, as exemplified by fashion brands Boden and ModCloth.

Thank you. We couldn’t have done it without you.

That was the subject line for Boden’s end-of-year email. It packed in a number of components.

As indicated by the subject, it did begin by thanking the customers who participated in social sharing and a count of all the downloads for children’s activities. It then proceeded to a point of mutual credit connected to the dollar amount of goods donated to needy people in the United States. It also gives itself a pat on the back for being recognized for its ethical standards.

Finally, it turns its attention to looking forward to the future with new fashions. It adds in the incentive of a reward of gift cards tied to purchase amount.

It then adds in the postscript it has been including on all emails since early spring: An observation of business continuing under unusual circumstances that can delay delivery and a link to all COVID-19 related questions.

What a difference a year makes.

That was the subject ModCloth used for its end-of-year emails. Like Boden, it worked in a humblebrag of its accomplishments over the year, though its message was packed into a single infographic that focused on numbers:

ModCloth counts Slack messages and dinosaur searches rather than downloads of activities, but it also touches on the company and its customers coming together for charity and adds a stress on its commitment to serving its customer base.

Both companies here say they’re about more than just selling clothes and seek out to connect with their customers on the communal and emotional level.

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B2CRM News

Snapchat Presents the Most Inspiring AR Campaigns of 2020

As people connect virtually rather than in person, they’ve been using their devices more than ever. That’s the truth behind Snapchat’s assertion that, “In a year of new normals, Snapchat’s camera has played a pivotal role in bringing us together, even when we’re apart.”

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That’s the declaration made at the beginning of Snapchat’s Most Inspiring AR Campaigns of 2020. It goes on to list 12 creative applications of AR for marketing that include the following:

1. Gucci’s AR Shoe Try-on

 

2. NYX Professional Makeup Virtual Store + Try-on Experience

3. Black Pumas 5G Concert by Verizon

4. “Raise Your Voice” from the Rebuild Foundation

The project set out a collaboration on art inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic. Snapchatters could use it to customize “AR masks, accessorize their Bitmoji avatars, and buy physical masks to support Black artists.” Also, for the anniversary of the March on Washington, Rebuild used Landmarker tech to display AR artwork at Capitol Building.

5. WHO Global Donation Lens

“The United Nations and World Health Organization launched the first-ever global donation AR Lens to raise awareness about the critical resources needed in the initial stages of the pandemic. The experience was triggered by scanning international currency notes, making the call-to-action feel clear and urgent.”

6. Biden-Harris Campaign Encourages Mail-In Voting with USPS

“To encourage Snapchatters to vote early by mail for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Biden-Harris campaign ran a Snapchat campaign to unlock a lens experience by scanning the USPS logo. Snapchatters could see themselves in a Biden hat and shirt wearing Joe’s iconic aviators, and the rear camera activated an icon over the USPS logo that erupted into fireworks reading ‘Vote Early for Biden-Harris.’”

7. Ralph Lauren Augmented Retail

In August Ralph Lauren partnered with Snapchat and “Bitmoji to launch a global Bitmoji fashion collection featuring Ralph Lauren’s iconic outfits. For the holidays, the iconic Pony was brought to life with Snapchat Scan.

8. LA Rams AR Uniform Reveal

Two weeks before their hyped-up uniform drop, COVID-19 forced the Rams to cancel in-person plans for the big reveal.” Necessity becoming the mother of invention, they worked with Snapchat on “the first-ever AR uniform reveal, using the power of the Snapchat camera to give Rams and NFL fans across the country a way to get up close and personal with the team’s bold new look.”

9. Diwali Festival of Lights by OnePlus

10. National Saudi Day

“In celebration of the 90th Saudi National Day, several brands in KSA launched Snapchat campaigns dedicated to the special occasion, creating engaging AR experiences for the platform to drive anticipation and a sense of unity amongst Saudi Snapchatters. 12 Lenses were developed by partners (including Samba Bank and STC below) with the objective to inspire the world with KSA optimism, resilience and accomplishments.”

11.Hershey’s Canada Reeseter Egg Hunt

“Snapchatters were given the opportunity to hunt around their real-world environments for ‘Reeseter’ Eggs in a safe, playful way. After successfully collecting 10 eggs, players could swipe up to an instant-win microsite where they were given the chance to win a coveted Reese Easter Egg prize pack.”

12. Trolls: World Tour Takes Over the Snap Camera

When Universal Pictures released Trolls World Tour as a streaming option, it used Snapchat AR to animate the movie’s characters on the devices. It also “for the first time ever, extended the experience to the Snap Camera desktop app to bring some fun to the new world of video calls and virtual meetings.”

 

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B2CRM News

From Shipageddon To the Returnageddon

Last month, we gathered some last-minute quotes and stats around the projections for the busiest holiday shopping season ever. So, now’s the time to follow up and determine if the Shipageddon is real and happening.

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And by many indicators, thw answer is, YES!

UPS planned to purchase 50 new planes, and FedEx was hiring 70K new seasonal workers to meet demands.

This holiday season, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is experiencing a historic surge in mail and packages. In response, the USPS had to extend its retail hours during the holidays, expand tracking technology, add new equipment, and lease additional motor vehicles.

“Making sure the right equipment is available to sort, process and deliver mail and packages” is of top priority, according to Kristin Seaver, Chief Retail and Delivery Officer of The Postal Service.

Additional Ware2Go holiday survey findings show:

  • 31% intend to shop within a few days after the holidays
  • 34% plan to shop throughout January
  • 23% will wait 2-3 months before shopping again

Brace Yourself for The Returnageddon

Brands, tune into this: Shoppers plan on making a return after the holidays, and your brand should see it as an opportunity.

“2020 is set to be the worst year on record for retailers with regards to return percentages,” said Sriram Sridhar, CEO at LateShipment.com. “Every retailer is set to see returns that are 50% to 100% more than they have ever encountered in the past.”

In fact, according to the survey conducted in October 2020 by Ware2Go, an astounding 61% of respondents answered that an online merchant’s return policy is very important to their decision to purchase.

Knowing this ahead of time is an excellent opportunity for your brand to get ready and plan.

Ensure your return policies are adequately put in place on your website’s FAQ page, and avoid making complicated policies to prevent some returns. Customers who have an easier time returning a product and getting a refund are more likely to stick around with you in the future.

Steve Denton, CEO at Ware2Go suggests that “with 63% of consumers planning to purchase from new brands, this holiday season presents an opportunity for sellers to build a new loyal customer base if they meet customer expectations for eCommerce delivery.”

But, above all, don’t see these returns as any negative sign. Extensive research, also from Optimove, proves that customers who return products are more valuable than those who don’t.

All these added communications and engagements are an opportunity to strengthen customer relationships.

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B2CRM News

B2CRM News: What TV Spots, & the Home Hype…

Back in early Q2 2020, after the first couple of weeks of people being stuck at home, we started seeing on our (=Optimove) data how self-care was quickly picking up.

Cut to – end of 2020, and the Skin & Foot Care category was ranked 5th (!!) among the top most-seen industries by tv spots, the result of a 27% spike. Yup, this was one trend that held on until the end of the year.

And it’s only one part of the entire, larger, home-hype trend.

Watch the quick roundup below to learn how these TV spots figures, and more stock and revenue performances, can help marketers prepare for 2021.

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B2CRM News

Walmart Unveils New Return Options

In time for Christmas and dealing with all those items ordered for the holidays that didn’t quite work out – Walmart released new return options that eliminates the need to print out shipping labels, tape them on boxes, and seal it all up for delivery to the shipping store.

In ‘Tis the Season for Hassle-Free Returns, Walmart announced a new easy return service called, Carrier Pickup by FedEx. It’s described as “an incredibly convenient way to make that unwanted gift *magically* disappear.”

Better still, the convenience is not to disappear after the holiday season but will remain an option for hassle-free, printer-free and cost-free returns for purchases made in-store, online, or even from a third-party vendor on the Walmart platform.

It works through return requests both through the site and the Walmart App:

  1. Select “Drop off at FedEx” as the return method
  2. Get a return code / QR code
  3. Take packaged return along with the QR code to any FedEx Office location
  4. A FedEx associate will scan the QR code, print a free return label, attach it to the box and ship it back to us

How to build your customer model

Customers who still wish to return items to store may do so, as well. So that customers can choose the method they prefer. Given that returns are such a significant part of online orders, that can boost the customer experience, which is a major plus for the retailer.

Returns are an integral component of any eCommerce business and so must be factored into the brand’s marketing position. Retailers who capitalize on the ability of technology to reduce the pain points of returns for their customers build loyalty that translates into more sales and higher retention.

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