The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

E-Commerce Imaging Functionality with Lands End - Getting a Killer Look at Products While Shopping Online


Lands End eCommerce Imaging FunctionalityWe’ve all been there. You’re shopping online and find something you're 95% sure that you want, but you need to get a better look at the product before you click “add to cart”. So you select “Click here for larger photo” but sometimes that yields inadequate images that don’t really build more confidence. Over the past few years, e-commerce imaging technology has greatly advanced (especially on larger retail websites). During my latest Gobble Thursday holiday shopping session, I visited Lands End and checked out some clothes for the upcoming winter season. Let me tell you, their product imaging functionality is some of the best I have seen on the web. Actually, it’s good enough that I decided to write a blog post about it today! Now, what makes it so good? Let’s jump right in:

Browse-By Listings (Category Listings and Image Functionality):
I started my visit to Lands End by clicking Men, Shirts & Sweaters and then Sweaters to get to the browse by listings you see below.

Lands End Category Listings

As I was looking at the listing of sweaters, I rolled over one I liked and the product view changed on rollover to a model wearing the sweater. I found this to be a great way to give potential buyers a second view of the product right from the sweater listings (and not necessarily on the product detail page). The view showed the sweater on a model so you can see it in context (and not just on a white background). Reference photos below. Then, right below the product image, I noticed several swatches. Clicking a swatch changed the product image dynamically, without post-back. Post-back is developer-speak for when your browser completely refreshes the webpage, which takes unnecessary time. I really like this functionality in the browse by listings…it was intuitive, provided value, and enabled me to see a wide array of sweaters in different colors and on a person. I love it. :) OK, let’s click through to the product detail page to get a closer look.

Screenshot of category listing with rollover functionality and swatches:
Lands End Category Listing Change View and Color


Product Detail Page: Pan, Zoom, and View:
Once on the product detail page, Lands End gives you several options for getting up close and personal with the product you are viewing. First, you have a nice product image (full view). Let’s get a closer look.

The Zoom:
Below the image, Lands End provides their pan and zoom functionality, which is one of the best I have seen on the web. You can either click the image to zoom in or click the “zoom in” button below the image. Either one lets you zoom into the product to view more detail. I was able to zoom in at a granular level (actually further in than I really needed to, but some people would want to see the fabric as closely as possible). It was easy to use and the response time was excellent.

Zooming in to get a closer look:
Lands End Zoom Functionality on the Product Detail Page


Now The Pan:
Then, if you click and drag the image once you zoom in, you can scroll around to view a closeup of the product. The image blurs as you drag the product, but refocuses once you choose the desired section of the product. You should try it out to get a good feel for how this works, because it’s some of the best pan and zoom functionality on the web (seriously.) There is a thumbnail in the bottom right corner which shows you a red bounding box that represents which part of the product you are viewing. But Lands End didn’t stop there…you can even drag the red bounding box around, which moves the product image. Great functionality…

Change Your Product View:
Below the pan and zoom controls, there are a few additional thumbnails. For my example, you can see the full sweater, the sweater on a model, and then a fabric swatch. When you click each image, the larger product image above changes to what you selected. Then you can use the pan and zoom functionality on the new image. Outstanding! If you choose the swatch thumbnail, then you can take a closer look at the fabric, which I can guarantee decreases product returns… More on this later.

Switching images to get a different view:
Lands End Category Listings


Colors and Fabrics:
On the right side of the page, you’ll find a list of swatches so you can easily change the color of the product you are looking at. Again, this is completed without post-back, which is fast and seamless. In addition, the thumbnails below the pan and zoom functionality also reflect the change in color (the full product view, the product on a model and the fabric swatch). Nice touch.

Selecting different colors dynamically changes the images:
Lands End Change Color and Fabric With Swatch Selections


What's The Effect on Your Buying Experience?
Providing e-commerce imaging functionality like this truly enhances the user experience on LandsEnd.com. Lands End exceeds customer expectations with the investment they made in their imaging functionality. As a marketer, when you start to analyze bounce rate, exit rate, and abandonment rates, you start to appreciate functionality like this. When it comes down to it, if you leave doubt in a customer’s mind, you might leave revenue on the table. But it’s much worse than that… The customer you just lost will go somewhere else to buy, may never come back to your website, and then will generate incremental revenue for your competitor. Great, right? Lands End is obviously dedicated to giving visitors every possible option while viewing their products so they can make an informed decision. By the way, they provide some additional functionality that I haven’t listed here…and I plan to review that soon. Consider that a blog teaser! :)

Decrease Product Returns:
In addition, Lands End is making its web operation more profitable by providing functionality like this. I bet their product returns from web purchases are lower than other retailers. How could it not be?? You are getting an incredible view of a product you are interested in…it’s almost like you are in a store for crying out loud! OK, maybe not that good yet…yet.

Lower Your Cart Abandonment Rate and Checkout Abandonment Rate:
I’ll also bet that their cart and checkout abandonment rates are lower than other retailers. Abandonment can happen due to several reasons, one of which is a lack of confidence in the product you just added to your cart. You know, questions like “will it really look like that?”, “what does the fabric actually look like?”, “what does it look like on?”, so on and so forth. Lands End minimizes these doubts, which probably lowers their abandonment rates. As a web analytics nut, I’d love to see their stats! {wait…taking one more Analyticza} ;-)

Ease of Use = Happy Customers:
This one is simple…Lands End makes it so easy and effortless to browse and buy that customers truly enjoy shopping on the website. I can tell you, that’s the way I feel. Being a web marketing consultant, I almost wanted to stay on the website to keep playing around with their imaging functionality… That’s if I didn’t have a gift list to knock out! ;-) Again, I’ll be writing a second review soon…

In Closing...
Well, I think you can tell how much I like the imaging functionality on LandsEnd.com! It was easy to use, robust, and more importantly, it builds customer confidence. I have a new tagline for Lands End:

"No Doubt and Lots of Confidence...Shop LandsEnd.com"

I have a feeling I'll be back to LandsEnd.com this holiday season....and I'm confident I won't be the only one! :-)

GG

Related Posts:
The Continuing Evolution of Online Shopping : My Virtual Model and Beyond
Effective Email Marketing With BuyCostumes.com
e-Commerce Shipping - Online Customers Demand a New Standard
2006 Holiday Season Online Shopping Review

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Now Gobble Thursday - More Holiday Tips for Web Marketers


Online Marketing Tips for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Gobble ThursdayEveryone knows of Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is the busiest retail shopping day of the year. This is the day that retailers provide incredible sales and deals for customers willing to wake up early and hit the shopping trail! Then there’s Cyber Monday, which arrived after online shopping took hold. It’s the Monday following Thanksgiving, and the day that many consumers purchase online at work (and try and hide it from their bosses). :-) But there’s another important day for online retailers (at least for me). I like to call it Gobble Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day. For a number of years, I’ve been cranking out over 80% of my holiday shopping in the wee hours of Thanksgiving Day. It’s a tradition for me now. So as web marketers, you want to take advantage of online holiday shoppers like me during Thanksgiving week (and for the Monday after). So, I’ve collected some last minute tips to make sure you convert as many of those holiday shoppers. Go ahead, gobble up these tips! ;-)

1. Free Shipping and Other Shipping Discounts
If you don’t provide some type of shipping offer, you'll lose out! People expect free shipping in one form or another during the holidays. So, even if you’re a small company, you better figure something out or you will lose customers to competitors that do. It doesn’t have to be free shipping on everything. You can provide free shipping on orders over a certain amount (like $25 or $50). The specific amount is based on your business, so you can figure that out with your CFO. :-) Also, make sure you communicate the offer in all of your campaigns (email, paid search, shopping engines, etc.) More on this later. Personally, I absolutely lean towards buying from online retailers that provide free shipping for the holidays.

2. Have Your Holiday Email Schedule Mapped Out
Email marketing to your internal list is still the most effective way to get in touch with your current customers (which is why I rank it as the most powerful online marketing channel at your disposal). It’s a powerful driver of sales, especially if you carefully map out your holiday schedule. For example, determine the special offers you will run during the holidays, when those offers take hold, determine your creative for each blast, and start scheduling the blasts. Also, I would plan on sending follow up emails. I can’t tell you how many times a reminder has pushed me to place an order. Let’s face it, people are ridiculously busy during the holidays so sending a reminder is a good idea.

3. Provide Outstanding On-Site Search Functionality and Provide a Holiday Guide
When I crank through my holiday shopping, I love using on-site search (as do many other people). I want the results to be clean, return relevant results, and provide a good amount of information about the product. I really only want to go to product detail pages of items that I want to buy… In addition, providing some type of holiday guide helps customers find great gift ideas fast. For example, show visitors what’s featured for the holidays, provide great gift ideas, break them down by category, etc. If you are short on resources and time, then create a few new pages on your site and organize your products based on how your customers search for items. This can be by style, age, price, size, etc.

4. The Mighty Gift Card
Know matter how you cut it, people love gift cards. In my opinion, I believe there’s only 1 out of 10 people that know how to buy gifts. I mean really good gifts that are well thought out. Most of us have been on the receiving end of some doozies, right?? Anyway, provide gift cards on your site for people who want to buy something quickly or for those that don’t know exactly what to buy. The dollar increments should match your products. So, if you sell $10 items, then have the gift cards in $5 increments up to $50. If you sell $50 items, then have a $10, $25, $50 and $100 gift cards. You get the picture…

5. Coordinate Your Online Marketing Campaigns
Make sure all of your marketing efforts are coordinated. For me, I’d rather not see one offer in email, another in paid search, and yet another when I hit a landing page. For example, if you are running free shipping for the holidays, then make sure you communicate this offer via email, paid search, shopping engine listings, banner ads, etc. And, make sure your campaign landing pages match the advertisements people are clicking through. Imagine someone clicking through a free shipping ad and then hitting a landing page with no mention of the offer (or worse, a different offer altogether!) If you have a blog, make sure you communicate your latest promotions in your blog posts, and again, have those offers match up with the pages you are sending visitors to. It doesn’t take much to throw off potential customers, which means fewer conversions, and less revenue.

In closing, there are many things you can do to enhance your holiday marketing efforts and I’ve provided a few ideas above. Think about it…if you map out your top 10 ideas and then run with your top 5, you’re giving yourself a better opportunity to have a successful holiday season. Just be prepared to adapt as the weeks go by, based on the data you are collecting (hello web analytics).

I can hear those shoppers gobbling up your products already. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving morning. :-)

GG

Related Posts:
Analyzing Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns using Google Analytics

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Analyzing Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns Using Google Analytics


Analyzing Holiday Email Campaigns with Google AnalyticsAs the holidays approach, chances are you will be launching several email marketing campaigns. Busy holiday marketing schedules heavily rely on email to connect with customers, promote holiday sales and offers, and to drive revenue. With the flurry of emails you’ll be sending out, analyzing your campaigns is critical to improving their effectiveness. Utilizing a robust web analytics package is a great way to scientifically determine what works best for your specific customer segments, and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t work. So, I decided to write a post that covers analyzing your email marketing campaigns by properly tagging your email links (for analysis in Google Analytics). Then you can break down and analyze your email creative at a granular level in your analytics reporting.

First let's define "tagging your online ads":
Tagging is the process of adding querystring variables to links in your online ads so your analytics package can detect and then associate each link with a campaign. Then you can access reporting based on visitor activity. For example, tagging a banner so you your analytics package knows which website the banner was placed on and which version of the banner led to a click through. The reporting will also provide important metrics for your campaigns such as site activity, sales, conversions, bounce rate, etc. Tagging is critical to understanding how your marketing campaigns are performing.

Breaking Down Your Email Marketing Creative
Let’s start with a wireframe for our sample email marketing creative. As you can see below, we have the following areas that we want to track:

1. header with branding
2. product image
3. headline next to product image with product info
4. special offer
5. footer with company links

Breaking down your email creative and tagging links.

Tag, You’re It! Tagging Your Email Creative:
In Google Analytics, you need to tag your campaigns so you can properly analyze each campaign in your reporting. You achieve this by tagging each link that you want to track. The four variables that you will utilize in Google Analytics for this example are:

1. utm_source
2. utm_campaign
3. utm_medium
4. utm_content

utm_source
This is the source of your marketing campaign, so for our purposes "InternalEmailList" will work just fine. Just remember to keep this consistent for future campaigns to your internal email list so you can easily segment and aggregate your reporting data in Google Analytics. Other examples of Campaign Source are websites you are advertising with, shopping engines, a search engine like Google or Yahoo, PRWeb, etc. It’s basically the source of your campaign traffic.

utm_campaign
This is simply the name of your campaign. Note, you should use a descriptive name here, since it will show up in Google Analytics under the Traffic Sources tab in Campaigns.

utm_medium
Medium identifies the marketing channel you are utilizing for your campaign, such as email, banners, search, pr, etc. Obviously for our example, we’ll use email.

utm_content
I saved this for last, since it’s what we'll be focusing on for tracking your email marketing creative. You should use a different value for utm_content for each section or specific link in your creative. This enables you to view reporting based on the content breakdown in your email creative (which will help you determine the value of each element in your email). More on this later.

So, for our example, the utm_content values would look like this:

Header: utm_content=HeaderBranding
Product Photo: utm_content=ProductPhoto
Headline: utm_content=Headline
Offer: utm_content=Offer
Footer Links: utm_content= FooterLinks

Note, this is a simplified example, and you may choose to get more granular in your own email creative. For example, you may choose to tag each specific link in the footer versus tagging all of the links in your footer as "FooterLinks".

The Full Picture (or should I say "The Full URL")
I just explained how to set the utm_content variable in your link, but I also mentioned 3 other variables that you should set. Here is what your link would look like for the header element in your email creative using all 4 variables:

http://www.hmtweb.com/blog/?utm_source=InternalEmailList&utm_medium=Email
&utm_content=HeaderBranding&utm_campaign=PreThanksGiving

Each of the links in your email should contain this querystring using all 4 of the Google Analytics tracking variables I listed above. You can also utilize Google's URL Builder to help build your links.

Blast Away!
At this point, you should fully test your creative to ensure everything looks the way it should across email clients, ensure all of the links work properly, ensure you tagged each link correctly, etc. Then blast away and wait for data to come in (and revenue!)

Tracking Your Email Campaign in Google Analytics
OK, so you blasted out your email campaign yesterday and you are eager to see how it’s performing. Log into Google Analytics and click the Traffic Sources tab. Then click Campaigns. You should see all of your campaigns listed here for the time period you selected. For our example, you would see a listing for PreThanksGiving, since this is the name we gave our campaign earlier. Simply click this listing to view reporting specific to this campaign.

At this point you can see the summary for your email campaign. You can see the number of visitors, avg time on site, bounce rate, etc. You can click the Goal Conversion tab to view the number of conversions from your campaign, and you can also click the E-Commerce tab to view revenue, number of transactions, etc. But you shouldn’t stop there… You can drill in further to view which elements are performing well in your email creative.

Click the image to view a larger version:

Viewing email campaign data in Google Analytics

View the Breakdown:
Click the Site Usage tab again in your report. Now, click the Segment dropdown and select Ad Content. You will now see each of the links you tagged in your email creative. Cool, right? Now you can view detailed reporting based on each element in your email. Why is this important? You may find interesting customer behavior that will enable you to drive better performance in future blasts. You might see that 75% of visitors clicked the product photo versus the offer. Based on that piece of data, maybe you expand your imaging in the email to include other views of the product to see if it increases your click through rate and sales. Or, you might find that a headline next to the photo draws more visitors than a headline above the photo. So on and so forth... You get the picture! When you break it down, your customers are unique and you might find that certain elements perform extremely well and others fall flat.

Click the image to view a larger version:

Analyzing email content using Google Analytics.


Back to your reporting… A sample analysis:
Now click the E-Commerce tab and view sales data for each element. You might find the product photo generated 70% of the revenue from the campaign. You might also see 10% of the revenue coming from the footer links. Why? Maybe customers aren’t sure who you are! Most people receive dozens of emails per day from companies they have purchased from. If you are a smaller company that is still building your brand, it might take customers a second or two to remember who you are… If you see trending that shows people clicking through your About Us link, you might want to promote your company and/or brand more in the email creative. i.e. Provide an About Us paragraph in the right sidebar of the email. This is obviously just an example, but you might find some important data from reviewing reporting like this... Back to our analysis, if you click the Goal Conversion tab, you can view conversions from each element in your email. Now you can track sales, newsletter signups, RSS subscriptions, etc. for each element in your creative. You might find certain email campaigns generate a lot of newsletter signups but only a few sales. You would obviously want to dig deeper and find out why that is...but you wouldn't know unless you track it!

In closing…
Using this technique, you can break down your creative and tag each link so you can view detailed reporting for your email campaigns. During and after each campaign, you should check your reporting for trends in customer behavior. Then test out new ideas and drive elements that perform well. Over time, you can refine your campaigns to maximize your email marketing efforts.

So, if I’ve done my job well, your next move is to run down the hall and grab your email marketing coordinator screaming, “Hold That Blast!” so you can tag all of your links! ;-) Then you can enter meetings armed with data versus opinion!

GG

Related Posts:
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Now Gobble Thursday - More Holiday Tips for Web Marketers

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