We’re thrilled to be included in The Makegood’s ‘People of Ad Tech’ series! In this segment, our CEO and founder Josh Payne explained the importance of ‘native’ as an essential component of the modern digital publisher’s monetization toolkit. Check out the full interview below:
It’s a tough job getting marketing efforts rolling, and even tougher trying to scale them. While it’s great to build your brand through snappy messaging and eye-catching creative (and you do NEED those things), it’s not always what grows your revenue and bottom line.
At StackCommerce, each new publisher and new brand we work with is a fresh marketing challenge. Ultimately, we’ve learned that rapidly testing and deploying new marketing channels – and then wrapping them up into a cohesive story – is what will propel each of our partners to the top.
Many people compare marketing to throwing darts at a dartboard. In that spirit, here are 6 tricks for hitting the bullseye – i.e. building out and scaling your marketing efforts from scratch.
1. Throw a LOT of darts.
It’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, so don’t focus your strategy on one channel or one media outlet. Even when you have years of marketing experience, you can never truly know exactly what marketing channels will take off for a new brand. The best rule of thumb is to throw a lot of darts – launch many different channels constantly, and even try testing some channels that are less familiar to you.
How to do it wrong: Pour cash into Facebook Ads for months trying to find the right formula (because that’s where you’re told the money is).
How to do it right: While you’re trying Facebook Ads, also try other social media advertising platforms like Pinterest and Twitter. Run search and banner ads on AdWords. Lock-down your email program for email addresses you’re collecting along the way.
2. Throw them fast, in different colors, both right and left-handed.
Experimenting with various channels helps you focus your attention, and that’s when the real testing begins. Once you’re confident that a channel generates solid returns, dig into the details: can you segment your audience by age, gender, device? What copy/creative works best within each of those segments? These days, segmentation technology is nearly unlimited, so find that dart that stays on target with each throw.
How to do it wrong: Focus all your efforts on creating one killer campaign on Pinterest with an A-list influencer.
How to do it right: Run many smaller campaigns with C-list influencers across multiple social networks, using several mediums (video, listicle, etc.) to determine what works best. Then get the A-lister on the line!
3. Give your darts lead-tips.
Another classic marketing saying is “there is no silver bullet”. You may find an exact combination of channels that really takes off, and that’s great! Always double down on efforts with proven success. Just remember, these are lead bullets, not silver. No strategy is flawless, so continue to diversify for strategy in preparation for when that lead-tipped dart misses the board.
How to do it wrong: Latch onto a successful email channel, and invest 100% of your budget. What happens when conversion rates plummet?
How to do it right: Build out your email program and find out what’s making it tick. Is fresh email content increasing click-through? Is your subscription offer something customers don’t see anywhere else? Find out what’s working, and replicate that success in other channels, too.
4. Throw your darts in handfuls.
Create holistic marketing campaigns where channels crossover or feed into one another. You’ll amplify your results and returns.
How to do it wrong: Focus on isolated strategies for each marketing channel, since they all operate independently, right?
How to do it right: Create a centralized landing page with a giveaway or special offer and feature products below. Don’t forget to offer rewards or bonus entries for sharing on social. Collect emails, create a triggered email series, and drive traffic using digital ads.
5. Make it native.
This is where we come in. Simply selling a product by listing features is great, but younger audiences are becoming numb to the typical advertisement and commerce email. Embed your products into interesting content on your site, or better yet, on an influential publisher or personality’s site or social account. By telling a brand story through your marketing, you’re going to make a lasting impression on your customers that increases brand recall and conversion rates.
How to do it wrong: Send emails about products. Post on social media about products. Run ads featuring products.
How to do it right: Get your products featured in native editorial posts and videos. Let othes rave about your products!
6. Make it rain.
How to do it wrong: Dump a bunch of cash into soulless ads on Facebook, insisting that it’s going to work eventually.
How to do it right: Diversify, rapidly test, and innovate. Tell a story across all your channels, and repeat.
Upselling or cross-selling customers with relevant products is about more than boosting revenues (although it does that, too). From the user’s point of view, it’s an effortless way to see complementary products without browsing aimlessly. When done properly, upsells can truly enhance the user experience, while simultaneously increasing average order value (AOV) and generating incremental “free” money that the company or publisher would otherwise miss out on. Everyone wins, right?
Unfortunately, not always. Some e-commerce sites make a habit out of constantly shoving upsells in the user’s face, taking away from the user experience and leaving customers with a sour taste in their mouths. Successful upsells start and end with a carefully thought out product selection, but they also require a tactful UX strategy. Bypass common mistakes and read on for my top 3 methods of flawlessly implementing upsells across your site.
Across StackCommerce’s 100+ publishers shops, users consistently spend the majority of time on product detail pages, and almost always, this is the first opportunity to provide an upsell to the user.
At this moment in the purchase lifecycle, offering a higher priced, upgraded model of the product at hand is beneficial for both user and seller. One strategy is to promote the cheaper version of a product and then provide options for the higher priced versions during the product selection process.
In the example above, the user is viewing the cheaper plan, but is also made aware that bigger discounts are available for longer subscriptions. The options are laid out clearly but not aggressively for the user, maintaining an overall positive user experience.
The shopping cart is another great place to offer upsells. A user with an item in-cart has already expressed an intent to buy, and if executed well, a cross-sell can provide a relevant addition to the user’s purchase. Buying a drone? Perhaps the user is interested in a crash pack. When testing cross-sells across the StackCommerce network, the team was shocked at the immediate success of this technique.
To date, this has been our most successful cross-sell placement, and we’re continually enhancing it with improved automated recommendation logic and updated visual layouts.
Note: the cross-sell item remains separated from items intentionally placed in the user’s cart to distinguish it as something different. As with the upsell strategy, the cross-sell recommendation can be easily ignored by the user and does not interrupt the purchase flow. We fixed it to the bottom of the cart nearest the Checkout button for optimal visibility.
Order Confirmation Page
The order confirmation page is one of the most underutilized pages in e-commerce. It’s typically the last page a user views and generally consists of nothing but a simple receipt.
One method for monetizing your order confirmation page is by cross-selling a relevant product with a limited-time discount applied. You may be surprised at how many people are willing to immediately make a second purchase right then and there.
By applying the user’s payment method, you can create a one-click checkout flow on the order confirmation page itself. We offer a selection of relevant products at a discount across the the top of each order confirmation page, all equipped with a seamless one-click checkout solution.
Upsells and Native Commerce
Unlike typical affiliate commerce which redirects customers to a third party e-commerce site and yields a portion of the profits, native commerce branded shops allow publishers to benefit from techniques usually reserved by the e-commerce sites themselves. Upsells and cross-sells are amazing examples of this. With StackCommerce’s platform, publishers are able to seamlessly offer relevant upsells to their readers and collect on an additional incremental revenue stream as a result.
Whether you’re a publisher or e-commerce site looking for new user-friendly ways to monetize, remember that upsells and cross-sells should be implemented tastefully, carefully, and with a UX state-of-mind.
At StackCommerce, we thrive on delivering unique products and amazing deals to our publisher audiences. We don’t just sell products, we introduce the right audience to the right product at the right time. This all starts with our sales team, and we searched high and low to find the perfect leader for this essential part our business.
We’re ecstatic to introduce Jaromy Pittario, our brand new VP of Sales. Jaromy joined us from Velocity App, the leading global payment app in the hospitality industry, and has previously provided incredible sales leadership at Gilt, AOL, and LivingSocial. Today, we’re picking his brain on everything from the evolution of flash sale sites to leadership tips to what the future has in store for StackCommerce’s publisher and vendor network.
Liz: You have amazing experience in your field, and specifically working with the flash sale model. In what ways have you seen this model evolve and change?
Jaromy: In the luxury space in particular, I’ve watched brands become more and more accustomed to the benefits of the revenue share model, and therefore open to working with flash sale sites. When I started at LivingSocial in Los Angeles, no one was familiar with it. But by the time I led the team at Gilt City, luxury brands and luxury shoppers alike were becoming more and more attracted to this model.
The experience transformed beyond the instant gratification of bringing a deal to a customer to a fully-branded journey that breeds engaged lifetime customers.
Liz: As a new member of the team in a leadership position, what are your key priorities?
Jaromy: My number one priority is to motivate and cultivate a cohesive team culture. As a sales team, our culture should be invitational so that our success is shared, not compared in a competitive fashion. Being approachable, relational, and goal-oriented also helps us become more available to cross-organization collaboration.
Liz: In what ways do you hope to influence the evolution of StackCommerce through sales and vendor relations?
Jaromy: I am working to grow and bolster StackCommerce’s lifestyle vertical, in part by bringing on national brand partnerships. Not only will these brands benefit from StackCommerce’s product distribution and marketing capabilities, but these noteworthy brands will work to elevate the customer experience across our publisher sites.
This symbiotic relationship is what makes StackCommerce a unique alternative to traditional affiliate advertising and publisher monetization solutions. I look forward to getting the StackCommerce name out to brands that I know would be a great fit.
Liz: You recently joined StackCommerce. What excited you about the opportunity?
Jaromy: During the interview process, I was fascinated by the rare blend of a startup environment and proven success and profitability at Stack. The interview process was so conversational that I felt I was able to really get to know the business and the people who make Stack a wonderful place to work.
Liz: What do you enjoy doing outside of Stack?
Jaromy: Cooking! I have an instagram account dedicated to teaching people how to make healthy meals in less than 30 minutes.
Liz: What’s your favorite saying?
Jaromy: Work hard, play hard.
We’re pretty big on bundles here at Stack. These unique curated sales are exclusive to our business, and allow our partners to offer customers amazing deals not found anywhere else on the Web. Last month we rolled out our new online course sale page, and based on that success, it was time to give our bundle sale page a facelift as well.
Our goal while redesigning our new bundle page was to give our users a better experience by highlighting important information and clearly showcasing the products. By diving into the most common customer service inquiries, we pinpointed the information that is most important in the user’s eyes. Then, we served it to them on a silver platter.
We started by bringing the most important elements up higher on the page so users would instantly know how many and which courses are included, without needing to scroll. The “Add To Cart” CTA was also moved up for immediate access. The result? The entire page was lifted, and now reveals the top part of the Product Details. This tells the users that there’s more content on the page.
We also made some significant improvements to the mobile experience. Before, the bundle page was essentially just a long, difficult-to-digest scrolling page.
Like the desktop redesign, we brought up the most important information to give the user quick and easy access. Instead of featuring vertical bars for the items in the bundle, we built a horizontal scrolling container so the user can easily swipe left or right through the products and still see other important content on the page.
The redesign not only provides a cleaner visual experience, but has proven to be a better overall user experience for our customers and those of our partners. Since launching the new design, we have watched the conversion rate on bundle pages rise by over 12%!
Up next: sale page redesign for more product types!
Thanks for reading!
– Braydon on behalf of the Stack Product Team
One of the many benefits of working with StackCommerce is our ability to accommodate international markets. For vendors, this means getting your products in front of users located in hundreds of countries across the globe, creating valuable brand awareness. For publishers, this means we’re here to support commerce for your current or future international audience. We want to help you grow! With such a significant segment of our current audience outside the US, it’s crucial that we create the best possible shopping experience for users in any location.
Where do we start? A critical piece of the international experience lies within our checkout flow. Due to varying costs, product variations, and availability, shipping items internationally is complex by nature. In an effort to maximize conversion, we’ve updated our UI to collect the most important shipping detail first: country of origin. This accomplishes two important goals:
- Ensures shipping costs, which vary by country, are correctly applied to the order
- Ensures that the customer’s checkout flow is relevant to the shipping destination (i.e., collecting state, zip code, or phone number where necessary)
We’re excited to continue fine-tuning our commerce experience for all users. Be on the lookout for more new features in the near future!