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Category: Native Commerce

StackCommerce Hack Day Spring 2017

StackCommerce Hack Day Spring 2017

As company traditions go, Hack Day is one of the most beloved events of the year here at StackCommerce. Last week, for the sixth time, we left our daily tasks behind, turned off (or down) our inboxes, loaded up on company-provided grub, and spent the day thinking big and thinking boldly about native commerce.

As with any startup, innovation is our bread-and-butter, and Hack Day is the perfect day to remind ourselves that no idea is too out-of-the-box if it helps our publishers and brands in new and exciting ways. Read on to explore this year’s highlights and look out for some of these features coming to fruition in the coming months (if they haven’t already)!

#1 All-About-The-Customer Hack

What happens when members of our supply chain, design, and customer support teams get together? They develop amazingly thoughtful ways to turn around less than ideal customer experiences. Operation ‘Customer Win-Back’ includes fun incentives like surprise gifts and special (free) e-learning bundles designed to soothe the frustration of unavoidable shipping delays and product issues. Because as we say: happy customers, happy Stack.

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#2 ‘Your Wish Is Our Command’ Sales Hack

At StackCommerce, curation is king. We excel at matching our publisher partners with products that their readers will actually like. But in typical Stack fashion, we believe we can always do better. Some of our rockstar Sales reps came together and built a system that would tell them exactly what products our partner audiences are talking about. By swiftly scanning the comments sections and most-viewed articles, we can better serve our partners with great deals on extremely relevant products.

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#3 Efficiency Hack

One unique aspect of working with StackCommerce is our ability to enhance our partners’ earnings with paid advertising. Known as Amplify and Momentum, these programs help our publishers and brands capitalize on high-converting commerce posts and videos with strategic spend and top-notch management. Together, the best minds in marketing, business development, and data science were able to hack together a tool that sets up paid campaigns faster than ever. Efficiency for us equals more money for our partners. Win, win.

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#4 Storytelling-in-Action: Hack Day Winner!

Let’s face it. Facebook is the new front door to the internet and this fact has huge ramifications for online publishers and advertisers. Native Social Video is a new product at StackCommerce and allows our publisher partners to use Facebook video to generate incremental revenue streams outside of homepage traffic. This year’s Hack Day winner spent the day simplifying the video request process and recruiting the best social video editing talent in the game. The future is video, and this year’s Hack Day echoed that sentiment loud and clear.

Case Story: Rosetta Stone Tackles A New Market with Native Commerce

Case Story: Rosetta Stone Tackles A New Market with Native Commerce

Native commerce offers brands of all sizes an amazing opportunity to grow revenues, enter new markets, and of course, gain invaluable brand equity. Although we often tout the success of niche brands working with our platform, we’ve also seen first-hand the significant role native commerce can play for large national brands like Rosetta Stone. Today, we’re here to share that story.

You’re most likely no stranger to the fact that Rosetta Stone is a household name when it comes to learning new languages in the digital age. But long before the mobile revolution, Rosetta Stone got its start selling CD-ROM software. Eager wanderlusts and budding linguists alike dove into hours of innovative learning lessons that looked unlike any high school Spanish class, and Rosetta Stone quickly became America’s leading language learning software.

The Digital Age Challenge  

As technology quickly evolved, once cutting-edge CD-ROMs became less and less relevant and Rosetta Stone adapted by offering its digital experience via the cloud. As with any drastic product change, this posed the massive challenge of getting their message out to a totally new, younger, and mobile-centric audience. And with shipping challenges eliminated, there was a fantastic opportunity to break into the international market.

Rosetta Stone partnered with StackCommerce with hopes of tackling these challenges through exposure across our vast publisher network. The first step was constructing a robust marketing strategy that spoke to both Rosetta Stone’s core brand message and the wide array of publisher audiences that would be engaging with the content.

By taking into account demographic, interests, and price point, StackCommerce targeted readers who would connect to the Rosetta Stone story, but may not have fit the profile of the typical Rosetta Stone customer.

The Power of Native Commerce Distribution

From Boing Boing to The Daily Dot to Gothamist, publishers from across the network posted a total of over 65 pieces of written native content based around Rosetta Stone, allowing them to successfully reach their targeted demographics in a natural way. Apart from the obvious brand exposure element, the campaign resulted in over 1,200 units sold and 96,000 sessions on their deal page across over 175 white-labeled publisher shops.

“We are delighted to be partnering with StackCommerce as they’ve been able to successfully help us reach a totally different customer, one who might not have looked for us in our traditional channels. The opportunities with StackCommerce not only helped us enter new markets, but enter new markets faster,” noted Mike Fishaw, North American Director of Sales.

For national brands like Rosetta Stone, the native commerce model aligns perfectly with lofty expansion goals and product launches — proving that sometimes impressive gains come from looking outside the comfort zone of traditional marketing channels. Sharing authentic, engaging brand content across publishers that people know and trust is a great place to start.

Introducing Native Social Video for Monetizing Your Social Channels

Introducing Native Social Video for Monetizing Your Social Channels

In today’s digital world, monetizing your audience takes more than focusing on the readers that hit your homepage. With more and more publisher traffic originating from social media sites like Facebook, there’s a clear need for fresh, innovative strategies. That’s why we’re excited to announce our Native Social Video offering, which allows our publisher partners to utilize social media traffic to build a new, video-based revenue stream.

During its first few months in beta, Native Social Video content generated over 100 million views, 500,000 shares, 400,000  likes, and more than $1M in gross sales — clear signs that there is high demand for snackable videos featuring engaging products.

By creating these videos at scale, we’ve successfully helped partners with large Facebook followings that historically struggled to directly monetize their rapidly growing social audiences. By utilizing our platform in addition to their own audience insights to drive on-site impressions and purchases via social video, Native Social Video’s launch partners have seen video commerce increase their total commerce-related revenue over 20%. Users have purchased over 30,000 products as direct result.

“Fresh monetization solutions are critical for the future of publishing, and digital publishers need to be open to utilizing e-commerce in completely new ways” said Ben Gafni, VP of Business Development. “Driving revenue through social commerce — in particular, the way we’re doing so through video — is poised to be a huge trend for publishers in 2017. By creating engaging product videos specifically for social, we’re helping publishers to monetize an increasingly mobile, and ad-averse, readership.”

We’re rapidly rolling out social video commerce across our network. To read more, see our official press release.

Stack Chat: CEO Josh Payne Talks Native Commerce on The Makegood

Stack Chat: CEO Josh Payne Talks Native Commerce on The Makegood

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:

People of Ad Tech: StackCommerce CEO Josh Payne from Tom Hespos on Vimeo.

How to Hit a Bullseye with Your Marketing Strategy

How to Hit a Bullseye with Your Marketing Strategy

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.

5 Commerce Tips for Making the Most of This Holiday Season

5 Commerce Tips for Making the Most of This Holiday Season

The holiday season is approaching quickly, and having a strong digital commerce strategy is essential. At StackCommerce, we’ve helped hundreds of publisher-owned online shops flourish during the holiday season through our native commerce platform. From preparing unique and exciting inventory to organizing specialized gift shops, we’ve had our hands in it all. Check out our top 5 tips for generating more revenue all winter long, and spreading cheer while you’re at it.

Plan Ahead 

For most online shops, the holiday season is the busiest time of year. On days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, site traffic can quadruple, coupons and promotions can go viral, and inventory can deplete within seconds. It’s critical to plan ahead in order to set your company up for success. Below are three steps to prioritize:

    • Build out the promotional calendar as early as possible, even if that means starting to plan for the holidays in the spring or summer.
    • Review all inventory pricing, needs, and caps before your sales go live. Once you drop a price or issue a site-wide sale, you can’t go back.
    • Schedule promotions with proper cadence to ensure that you and your team are prepared to handle increased volume and heightened sales. Preparing for this influx will provide your customers with a positive experience.

Set Up a Gift Shop

One major shift occurs during the holiday season: consumers buy gifts for others, not themselves. Therefore, the tactics you use to convert consumers during the rest of the year may not be effective during the holiday season. Launching a gift shop, which functions differently than your normal store, allows customers to shop your existing inventory in a new way. Gift Shops also guide customers through a purchase decision that can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for launching a can’t-miss gift shop:

    • Showcase your catalogue with buckets and themes that relate to gifting. Some examples that have worked for us include:
      • Gifts Under $50
      • Gifts for the Trendsetter
      • Gifts for the Jetsetter
      • Gifts for the Techie
    • Don’t assume that customers think your products are giftable. Be sure to communicate the launch of your gift shop to existing customers and explain why the products within are great for gifting.

Call Out Shipping Times  

There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up to a holiday celebration or party without a gift. So don’t put your customers in a position to fail! Be upfront with your shipping times and let the customers decide if your timeline makes sense for their purchase. Sometimes it’s okay if a gift ships after a holiday, sometimes it’s not.

Don’t Over-Discount

Discounting is a great way to entice customers, but often it’s overused. Consider the reasons why your products are special and communicate this to your customers. Don’t overlook the appeal of your own products! Ask yourself these questions to uncover why your products are unique:

    • Why do my products make for perfect gifts?
    • What features stand out about my products aside from their price points?
    • Are any products exclusive? What products can’t be found anywhere else on the web?

Review Past Holiday Seasons

We’ve all dealt with analysis paralysis, but a healthy amount of analysis can be incredibly effective. Take a good look at what happened last holiday season. What were your biggest sales? Which emails had the highest open rates? What deals sold out? Which promotions converted the most users? How can you replicate what worked and improve what didn’t?

One of the benefits of working with StackCommerce’s native commerce platform is that we deliver a full holiday marketing strategy to each publisher shop across our network! StackCommerce-powered shops will benefit from curated gift shops, full email marketing cycles and sales, and incredible logistics and customer service from Black Friday through the holiday season.

Inventory issues, shipping times, discounts, analysis – we consider it all and make sure our publisher partners’ branded storefronts are prepped for success. Whether you work with us or are implementing your own marketing strategy, we hope these tips will inspire success this holiday season!