Leisure marketing: Are you losing millions to shopping cart abandonment?

February 28, 2011

Abandoned shopping carts can cost online retailers $1 million a day in lost sales.

Implementing a simple email recovery program could save your company millions of dollars a year in online sales.

If your online store has annual revenues of $200 million, you could be losing as much as $1.2 million a day to shopping cart abandonment.

That’s according to recovery services provider SeeWhy. To combat this problem, 15% of retailers are now using what’s called recovery emails. Here’s how it works:

When a customer abandons their online shopping cart at checkout, they receive a series of automated emails offering incentives to help them complete their transaction.

A new survey by Silverpop found that 8 in 10 companies are considering using recovery emails to help recover lost sales due to this practice by the end of the year.

Silverpop offers the following advice for companies seeking to recoup some of their lost sales:

  • Act fast.  Research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates that 90% of ecommerce leads go cold within an hour.
  • Offer to complete their transaction through other channels like live chat or your call center.
  • Consider using incentives to close the deal like free shipping, a percentage off, or a combination of other incentives.
  • An emerging best practice is not to offer an incentive in the first email, a modest incentive in the second, and the most aggressive offer in the final email.

Sellers beware: Buyers are fast learners.

If you do offer an incentive, be aware that savvy customers will soon figure out that if they wait longer the incentives will come,  which could cost you some full-price sales.

Here’s a simple, three-stage recovery email program that’s easy to implement:

  1. Send an email in the first half hour inviting them to complete their transaction through live chat or by phone.
  2. Send a second email a half hour later offering them free shipping if they complete the transactions within the next hour.
  3. Send a third email that next day offering 10% off plus free shipping if they complete their transaction in the next 4 hours.

How are you dealing with shopping cart abandonment?  What have you learned from your successes, and failures?

Leisure marketing: 6 internet pioneers make their predictions about the future.

January 19, 2011

Internet gurus predict a more intuitive, integrated, and inobtrusive internet experience.

Instead of asking you to look into my crystal ball, here’s what the people who invented today’s internet are predicting.

It’s the start of a new year, and leisure marketing specialists like me have begun making predictions about what the future of the internet holds for our industry.

It turns out that Mashable writer Sarah Kessler has done the same thing, only she has let some of America’s greatest internet gurus make the predictions.

As I compared their statements, I was surprised at the similarity in their beliefs.

1. Jeremy Stoppleman, Founder of Yelp

“Over time, as the Internet matures, it will become something that is completely inter-woven [into] the fabric of our lives and… is just always presenting information to us…

Whenever we have a question, the answer is just sort of presented to us and it’s done so in a way that is very unobtrusive.

And some of the early things we’ve seen [with augmented reality], for instance with our Yelp Monocle Feature, you hold up a phone and see what businesses are ahead of you down the street.”

2. Barry Glick, Founder of MapQuest

“Right now the Internet has been very computer oriented. There’s been this association, like you need a computer to be connected, and I think that’s rapidly, of course, going away.

You need a handheld device, and in the future you need a home entertainment system, TV, all connected to the Internet.

So I think the Internet is going to be the invisible present power supply, and the boundary between some things that have boundaries today, like telephones, will go away. Television will go away.

It will be the Internet, and there will be different display devices and different user interface or interaction devices, but that’s kind of how I see it.”

3. Dryes Buytaert, Drupal Founder

“I think the future is much more integrated, where social is part of everything you do, every website.”

4. Matt Mullenweg, WordPress Founder

“If I were to wish for two things, they would be as much bandwidth as possible and ridiculously fast browser engines.”

5. Ryan Ozimek, President of Open Source Matters (Joomla)

“Where I see the future of the Internet going is more mobile, more focused on the cloud, and more about building really easy-to-use platforms that people can use to build the next generation of software.”

6. Steve Case, Founder of AOL

“I think the coming decade will be about…how do you not just create Internet businesses, but create businesses that can impact every aspect of people’s lives using the Internet as a tool.”

You can find the full text of their predictions in Sarah’s post. on Mashable.

Where do you think the internet is going?

How will that impact leisure marketing in the future? Tell us about it.

The 5 habits of highly effective CMOs of leisure brands.

December 6, 2010

The old autocratic style of leadership won't work anymore.

To be successful in the digital age, leisure marketing pros will have to experiment more and create incentives for collaborating.

Are you willing to navigate through uncertainty and discard outdated practices?

Chris Stutzman, principal analyst at Forrester, has made it his job to study why some CMOs have been more effective at adapting to the digital age and others haven’t.

Chris has identified 5 bad habits leisure marketing specialists will have to let go of to succeed:

  1. Complacency
  2. Conformity
  3. Analysis Paralysis
  4. Hands off Management
  5. Knowledge Silos

Chris named 5 habits leisure marketing pros need to successfully navigate this brave new digital world:

1. Experiment: “Adaptive marketers” (as Chris calls marketing pros who are doing it right) experiment with their organizational structure, emerging media and new technologies.

This helps them prepare for the unexpected and stay one step ahead of the competition.

2. Challenge the status quo: Adaptive marketers act as change agents who strive to create new brand experiences, encourage innovative thinking and use technology to their advantage.

Chris cites the marketing leaders at Ford, which has shifted 25% of its marketing dollars to digital as an example.

3. Take action regularly. Adaptive marketers place a premium on speed and action when it comes to using new channels or taking on new customer-facing initiatives.

Chris suggests marketers need to think big, take small steps and grow rapidly. And he uses the example of the San Francisco Giants’ dynamic pricing initiative as an example.

4. Give every team member a role in shaping your brand. Adaptive marketers get personally involved in new media and marketing innovations.

The also empower their teams to take a personal stake in shaping the brand experience.

5. Create incentives for collaborating. Chris says adaptive marketers redefine organizational boundaries by motivating people to join forces in new ways.

It’s important to reward them for sharing knowledge and to equip them with the tools to stay connected with each other.

What are you doing to adapt to the digital age? What’s holding you back?

You can read Chris’s ideas in more depth in a piece he wrote recently for Ad Age.

Travel and leisure marketing to the nearly 57 million Americans who have tried social gaming.

September 8, 2010
Screenshot of Farmville social media game

Zynga's social game FarmVille has 63 million active users on Facebook.

If you think social network-based games are just for video game geeks, you haven’t talked to the tens of millions of Americans who have tried it.

I’ll admit it.  I’ve been slow to embrace social gaming.

As the CMO of a travel or leisure brand, you need to know about one of the latest social media trends to have exploded into the consciousness of America.

I’m talking about social gaming.  NPD Group recently released a study on who’s visiting online social gaming sites. When you see the stats, you’ll understand why all leisure marketing pros should be paying attention.

The success of these sites is hard to ignore.

  • 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 6 have tried online social gaming.
  • In all, that’s nearly 60 million Americans.
  • Of that total, nearly 6 million have spent money playing online social games, and another 11% say they plan to in the future.
  • In 2009, social gamers spent about $2 billion on virtual goods, and experts say that number will increase to $6 billion by 2013.
  • The best performing social games can inspire repeat purchases in 41% of users.

If you think the social gaming crowd is made up of young men, you’d be wrong about that, too.

  • The typical social gamer tends to skew older and female; in fact, the average gamer is a 43-year old woman.
  • This bucks a decades-old trend of younger men being the dominant users of video games.
  • 35% of social gaming players have no previous gaming experience.

Never played online social games?

If you’re the CMO of a travel or leisure brand that needs to get up to speed on social gaming, you can find out what all the fuss is about by visiting these popular sites:

  • Zynga, creators of Farmville, currently the most popular social game on Facebook.
  • Rockyou, creators of Anti-Pacman and other popular online social games.
  • Playfish, home of Pirate’s Ahoy and other popular social games.

You can find these and other surprising statistics on the rise of social gaming at NPD’s website.

Top 10 SEO thought leaders every travel and leisure marketing pro should read.

September 1, 2010

illustration of the words "Search Engine Optimization" stacked on each other

Hubspot just published a listing of some of the top SEO blogs.

Hubspot recently ranked the top 23 SEO blogs for CMOs who want to learn about the latest SEO thought leadership.

More and more, CMOs of travel and leisure brands are asking how they can raise their organic search rankings. Recently Kipp Bodnar contributed an excellent post on Hubspot listing some of his favorite SEO blogs.

Hubspot’s Top 10 SEO Thought Leaders:

1. SEOmoz Blog – SEOmoz has become the gold standard for SEO information and how-to articles. Its team of contributors offers an article per day to help expand your SEO knowledge.

2. Marketing Pilgrim – Andy Beal and his team of talented writers break search engine and internet marketing news and discuss major industry trends impacting marketers.

3. Search Engine Land – This is one of the best search engine blogs for in-depth news and analysis of the search marketing industry.

4. Search Engine Journal – From link building to the newest changes from Google, Search Engine Journal covers news and tactics related to the search engine marketing industry.

5. Search Engine Roundtable – For detailed discussion and explanations of the fine details of search engine marketing, Search Engine Roundtable has you covered.

6. SEO Book – For reviews of the newest SEO tools to analysis of search engine changes, check our SEO Book.

7. ReelSEO – ReelSEO is a resource for marketers looking to learn more about online video’s impact on search engine marketing.

8. Yoast – Yoast is a how-to focused blog that covers tactics for improving SEO as well as user experience for your website.

9. aimClear – The aimClear blog includes articles about a wide range of search marketing topics, including SEO and PPC.

10. Biznology – This blog discusses many SEO-related issues but has recently focused on content marketing and its connection to SEO.

To read about another 13 top SEO blogs, visit Hubspot and read all of Kipp’s post. If you’d like to read Hubspot’s free 23-page report on how to increase  your organic search rankings, you can find that here.

Leisure marketing: Online holiday shoppers start much earlier.

August 20, 2010
Computer mouse chord shaped like a Christmas tree

More and more internet users are starting their holidays shopping early.

A survey by Google and OTX found that 35% of internet users are starting their holiday shopping before summer has even ended.

Leisure marketing pros take note: The internet is changing the way people do their holiday shopping.

A new survey by Google and OTX Research found that 21% of internet users have started their online shopping by May.

And another 14% start their shopping June-August.

Which means that 1 in 3 internet users are starting to buy their holiday gifts online by the end of August.

As many holiday shoppers now shop early as shop late.

Thanks to the internet there are now equal numbers of people shopping online for holiday gifts May-August as there are people who shop in November-December for their gifts.

What the research doesn’t spell out is why people are shopping online so early.

But I hope you don’t need research to confirm what I’ve written about in previous posts. Any leisure marketing CMO knows why people shop online, whether it’s early or late season:

  1. Price.
  2. Convenience.
  3. Ability to shop on their timeframe.

Don’t miss this golden, green and red opportunity.

If you’re a leisure marketing pro who sells your products or services online, make sure you are taking advantage of this new trend in e-tailing.

  • Don’t wait to manufacture and promote your hot selling holiday items.
  • Start promoting them in the spring.
  • Offer sales and discounts in spring and summer.

Right now leisure brands are not promoting holiday specials early in the year, but there are no rules of e-marketing that say you can’t try to speak directly to these early shoppers.

  • Consider creating a special place on your site for early holiday bargain hunters.
  • Try a special sales event created just for early holiday shoppers.
  • If you’re selling your products through others sites, create a special pre-holiday promo with your retail partners.

That’s what we’re recommending to our clients selling at retail.  Let us know what you’re planning to do differently this year to capture more business from the early holiday shopper.

You can read more about this study at e-marketer.

Travel marketing: 10 questions to ask before you create your social media campaign.

August 19, 2010

Before you jump on the social media bandwagon, make sure you ask these 10 questions.

Awhile back, Sean Carton, Chief Strategy Officer for Philadelphia interactive design firm idfive , posted an excellent checklist of questions to ask before developing a social media strategy.   Here are the highlights:

1.  What are we trying to accomplish?

Your first step in developing a social media strategy is to get clear on what you want your outcomes to be. Is it more sales, conversions, brand engagement, or awareness?

2. Why are we using social media?

Is it to build stronger relationships with your customers? Create buzz? Become a thought leader? Before jumping on the social media bandwagon,make sure it’s going where you need to go.

3. What kind of social media will help us best achieve our goals?

Do you need to utilize social networking sites, blogs, real-time updates (e.g., Twitter), social news sites, media-sharing sites, review/directory sites, virtual worlds, or display ads on social media sites?

4. Are we prepared to let go of control of our brand?

You can’t participate in social media without engaging in a conversation with customers. Which requires you to give up control. Is your company willing to do that?

5. What will we do to encourage participation?

Make sure you have a plan to drive people to your social media site or viral video. And the time, money and expertise to execute that plan.  Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed.


6. Who will maintain our social media presence?

Participating in social media takes a lot of work. It won’t happen unless it becomes part of someone’s job. Do you have someone ready to commit a big chunk of time to maintaining your social media presence?

7. Do we have the resources to keep this up, or will this be a short campaign?

If you’re investing in a long-term social strategy, make sure you budget resources to continue your social media presence beyond the current fiscal year.

8. How does engaging users through social media integrate into our overall marketing/communications strategy?

Social media works best if you fit it into what you’re trying to do in all your other channels, and visa versa.

9. How do we measure success? And failure?

Are you measuring views, followers, comments, or subscribers? What happens if you don’t get there?

10.  What are we cutting back on to do social media?

If you spend more money on social media and other nontraditional forms of marketing, you have to spend less on something else. Figure that out before you start, or you could have an expensive mistake to explain.

Thanks to Sean for another insightful post.

Travel and leisure marketing: Americans are doing more online besides search for information.

August 17, 2010

Online viewing habits are shifting from searching for information to socializing.

    Your customers are not spending as much time searching for your business online as last year.

    If you’re the CMO of a travel or leisure brand trying to find your customers online, I have good news and bad news.

    First the good news:  they’re spending more time in leisure activities like gaming and social networking.  Now the bad news:  they’re harder to reach through traditional online media like search portals.

    According to several recent Nielson surveys, social networking and gaming now take up one-third of our time.

    Americans spend almost 25% of their time online on social networking sites and blogs, an increase of 43% from a year ago.

    The findings of the latest Nielson report:

  • We spend 10% of our time gaming, a 10% increase from 2009.
  • We spend 8% of our time with email, down 28% from a year ago.
  • We spend 4.4% at internet portals like google and yahoo, a 19% decline from 2009.

    Our online viewing habits are changing in other ways, too.

  • Of the most heavily used sectors, online viewing of videos and movies grew by 12 percent from 3.5 to 3.9 percent.
  • June 2010 was a major milestone for U.S. online video as the number of videos streamed passed the 10 billion mark.
  • The average American consumer streaming online video spent 3 hours 15 minutes doing so during the month.
  • Despite some predictions otherwise, email remains as the third heaviest activity online.
  • Although the major portals also experienced a double-digit decline in share, they remained as the fourth heaviest activity, accounting for 4.4 percent of U.S. time online.

If your travel and leisure marketing is targeted online, you have several options here:

  • Become a sponsor of online gaming sites.
  • Devote more of your marketing resources to developing a Facebook and Twitter strategy.
  • Create your own online gaming and social marketing opportunities, including custom games and discussion boards on your website.

You can check out a more complete summary of the report at the Nielson blog.

The most powerful online leisure marketing machine is not a machine at all. It’s Lady Gaga.

June 27, 2010

Lady Gaga has become the queen of online marketing.

Lady Gaga is the most popular celebrity online. And a walking case study in integrated online leisure marketing.

Lady Gaga:  An online brand that’s gaining audience share every month.

If you asked me today to name a leisure brand that best links web and social media tools into one powerful marketing machine, my answer would be a person:  Lady Gaga.

This self-professed “fame monster” leverages 3 different websites, her own facebook, myspace and buzznet pages, a twitter feed and a youtube channel to gain millions of fans and sell millions of songs.

Lady Gaga by the numbers:

Last month, Lady Gaga added 1.5 million facebook fans, 483,130 twitter followers, and 19,213 youtube subscribers, bringing her online following to:

Lady Gaga uses every trick in the online and social media strategy book:

1.  Her sites contain compelling content.

Her web and social sites are jammed with stunning costumes, videos, photos, interviews and  articles.

3. Each site has a great breadth and depth of content.

Every day, her sites post new information on her concert tours, interviews with the press, photos of a recent video shoot, and more.

Each site is visually and verbally rich in content.

4.  Content is shared between sites.

She has 8 different web and social sites.  And although each one has original content, all of these sites share common content.

5.  All of the content is sharable by fans.

When you press the “share” button,  280 different bookmarking and sharing sites show up! And she links to other musicians’ sites.

6.  Each site makes it easy to purchase music and merchandise.

You’re never more than 1 or 2 clicks away from purchasing your favorite song, t-shirt or co-branded product.

7.  There are plenty of places for fans to talk about her.

Her sites are full of chat, comment and discussion features.

I counted 125,000 posts on this site alone!

8.  There is an underlying strategy holding it all together.

Each site has its own audience and purpose. Yet they work together to feed the insatiable appetite of fans.


TripAdvisor at 10: An online travel marketing pioneer comes full circle.

June 24, 2010

Step 1: Trip Friends shows you facebook friends who have visited the city you're traveling to.

After inventing crowd-sourced travel planning 10 years ago, TripAdvisor is going against the conventional wisdom it created and launching a new friends-based recommendation tool.

A website born out of of questioning conventional wisdom.

When Steve Kaufer set up TripAdvisor.com in 2000, people made their travel decisions based on the recommendation of a guidebook, travel agent or a friend.

Steve believed that the opinions of a crowd of strangers was better, and TripAdvisor was born.

A decade later TripAdvisor.com attracts 34 million monthly visitors.

Today, TripAdvisor.com is the world’s largest travel website, with 34 million visitors a month.

Along the way, the website helped popularized user-generated content and paved the way for other online review sites.

How Steve’s innovation changed the way I plan trips.

Today, TripAdvisor.com is one of the first sites I visit before I book travel. It has taught me to base my purchasing decisions for other products and services on the others’ reviews, too.

The limits of crowdsourcing travel decisions.

But I’ve come to realize that just because a hotel is rated highly by the masses doesn’t mean I will like it. And I’ve stayed at a few properties where they knew how to work a better TripAdvisor review out of guests than their service merited.

So it doesn’t surprise me that Steve has come full circle.

This month TripAdvisor announced Trip Friends.

Trip Friends allows you to see which facebook friends have been to the city you’re traveling to.  And to ask them for their recommendations.

Why is TripAdvisor testing a different model?

According to The Economist, Kaufer believes that soon travelers won’t want to wade through 150 reviews to pick a hotel.

In this age where the opinions of strangers are  now a commodity, people will seek familiar and friendly recommendations.

I applaud Steve for his courage in seeing the shift. And being visionary enough to catch the next wave while it’s still too small for many of us to see.



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