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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.

3 Ways for Brands to Get the Most Out of Native Commerce

3 Ways for Brands to Get the Most Out of Native Commerce

The elusive black box of marketing plagues brands of all shapes and sizes. No one enjoys spending money on advertising and customer acquisition without knowing the ROI ahead of time. Yet, many agencies require steep introduction fees to establish relationships.

That’s what makes working with StackCommerce so unique. Whether your brand is new-to-market or well-established, you’ll have your choice of multiple pay-for-play solutions for customer acquisition, brand awareness, and revenue growth without paying upfront fees.

Here are some of the ways your brand can quickly expand its digital reach:

#1 Advertorial Content, Exclusive Offers & The Art of Storytelling

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It’s no secret that entering the native advertising playground can be extremely pricey. In fact, digital advertisers are forecasted to spend $28.2 billion on native advertising by 2018 according to eMarketer. However, unlike traditional native ad or sponsored content media buying, StackCommerce allows brands to get maximum brand exposure without any of the upfront costs.

With consultation from our merchandising team, our brand partners curate promotions or CPA offers that are exclusive and newsworthy, giving our network of publishers an opportunity to design authentic content that engages their readers. These brand stories are specifically created to add rather than distract from the reader’s’ experience. The result? The publisher, the reader, and the brand win.

While exposure on publishers like AOL, Gothamist, Digg, and The Daily Dot can often be purchased on a CPM basis, we offer this to brands free of charge as part of our structured promotion. The benefits of brand exposure are obvious for new-to-market brands, but even well-established brands can utilize StackCommerce’s content creation abilities to strategically enter new markets and reach new audiences.

For example, leading national language software company Rosetta Stone used StackCommerce’s platform to break into a new younger and mobile-centric market. With over 65 editorial pieces published across the network and over 96,000 eyes on their product, Rosetta Stone successfully created a presence amongst a brand new audience through engaging content. “We are delighted to be partnering with StackCommerce as they help us reach a different customer, who might not have looked for us in our traditional channels,” noted Mike Fishaw, North American Director of Sales.

#2 Handcrafted, Custom Email Placement

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Email placement is another great way to accelerate your brand exposure. Featuring your brand’s logo, image, or full product line in a dedicated email send is one option available to all brand partners. Our in-house creative team is available to create custom emails to showcase your brand or product line specifically for your targeted market. We segment our email list of over 3 million subscribers to deliver increased value and drive engagement. We always tailor our sends to be 100% unique, and customized quotes are available upon request.

#3 Accelerated Dollar-for-Dollar Ad Spend Matching

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We’ve discussed the power of native content when posted by influential online publishers, but what happens next? Does the content simply disappear forever? StackCommerce’s Amplify program allows brands to double down on their content strategy by attracting more eyes to their brand via social media. The Amplify program is consistent with our commitment to eliminate the black box of unknown fees and unclear ROI. Matching ad spend dollar-for-dollar, we are able to scale targeted, strategic Facebook Ad Campaigns with up to 6x return on ad spend (ROAS). With innovative methods to  showcase content as ads, we are blazing a path for social commerce at scale.

Before we even pitch our brand partners on the Amplify program, we put our money where our mouth is and build a proof of concept ourselves. StackCommerce takes on the full risk during an initial trial period, meaning we only offer this program to a select few brand partners who have already been shown to benefit concretely with actual data. With agency to generate custom, flexible solutions, we are able to drive value and deliver results, without compromising brand integrity.

StackCommerce Monthly Update: January 2017

StackCommerce Monthly Update: January 2017

There’s no question that 2016 was a great year at StackCommerce. We’ve gone from pioneers, forging a new path for publishers and brands in native commerce, to key players in an established and growing monetization category.

Over the past year, we’ve empowered brands of all sizes to expand their reach, enter new markets, and surpass their revenue goals. Collectively, our brand partners sold over 870,000 units and were featured in over 6,000 pieces of editorial across the web.

Our network of publisher partners saw 41% year over year growth in 2016, earning higher earnings from native commerce than ever before. And we were thrilled to have welcomed over 1.1 million new users to our community in the past year alone.

So what does 2017 have in store? We’re only 13 days into the new year and already making huge strides towards our aggressive goals. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Introducing….Apple Pay

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It’s been 6 weeks since we enabled Apple Pay on the StackCommerce network, and the results have surpassed expectations. We’re committed to providing our partners with the latest e-commerce technologies, and Apple Pay was high on our list of priorities. So far…

– 10% of all iOS users pay with Apple Pay

– 5,000+ total transactions executed with Apple Pay

Just Launched: Loyalty Program

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One of our primary goals for 2017 is to increase AOV (average order value) for all publisher partners. Our brand new Loyalty Program was created and deployed with exactly that in mind.

By incentivizing customers to spend more by offering credit back in return, we’re working to not only increase AOV, but improve the likelihood of return purchases. One of the advantages of native commerce is that it enables publishers to gain the lifetime value of a customer, and the Loyalty Program is one more way in which we’re helping publishers do just that.

We’re Growing: Support Team!

With more and more users joining our community daily, we’re investing even further in the care of our customers. That’s why over the past month, we’ve added 6 more members to our Support Hero team. Our customers are already reaping the benefits with faster response times, streamlined resolutions, and higher overall satisfaction ratings.

We’re committed to the continued improvement of our support efforts in 2017, as we strive to make sure every purchaser across our network is left with a positive experience.

 

The Art of the ‘Commerce Content’ Headline

The Art of the ‘Commerce Content’ Headline

Considering the deluge of articles on social media, email, and RSS, headlines are integral to our efforts at optimizing native content for publishers. A good headline acts as an attention grabber; it humors, excites, compels, and/or shocks, promising readers a major payoff should they click through — and for publishers, a sale contributing to their revenue.

However, while best practice-type guides like this one and this one abound, resources are pretty limited for commerce content in particular. With the rise of affiliate and native commerce as essential components of most modern publishers’ monetization strategies, this topic is sure to garner more attention in the coming year. Do the same rules apply to commerce content as to traditional content? Not exactly. At StackCommerce, we’ve dug deep to determine best practices unique to commerce content, and have compiled the best of them below for anyone interested in a quick primer:

1. Shorter headlines aren’t necessarily better

Virtually every headline guide online trumpets the same rule: keep headlines as brief as possible. While we do generally aim for shorter headlines (~8-10 words each), we’ve found that many of the best performing headlines from across our partner network are on the longer side:

  • (15 words): This may be the world’s smallest camera drone, but it packs some serious flying power
  • (16 words): 3 meals from Blue Apron make a delicious last minute gift & are now over 50% off

We do approach this rule with a few caveats. Only use longer headlines if:

  • It’s absolutely needed to communicate important details about highly multifaceted deals.
  • They are written meaningfully while still reading concisely (no fluff!).
  • They are fully displayed on publishers’ sites.

For a publisher whose headlines are often truncated, best practices say to stick almost exclusively to short headlines. 

2. There is no universal headline formula for commerce content

When you’re working with publishers with vastly different audiences, like we do, headlines must be approached on a case-by-case basis. This means tailoring the voice and formatting of each so it embodies that of its publisher, and ultimately getting readers to engage and enjoy the content.

For instance, commerce content typically falls into two categories: deal-focused and story-focused. Whether a publisher may opt for one or the other in headlines really depends upon whether a publisher’s audience is simply deal hungry or prefers more informative articles:

  • Advertorial: A Complete Computer Science Education—Minus the Student Loans
  • Informative: Here’s how you can master AI and machine learning in 2017

3. Strategically frame discounts so they’re most compelling

Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it will interest readers at face value. Each deal should be analyzed individually to determine whether to highlight the percentage markdown, dollar off amount, price point, or none of the above — generally following these rules of thumb:

  • Highlight the % markdown if ~40% or more
  • OR mention markdown as a $ off amount
    • works well with ‘hundreds off‘ discounts
    • avoid under $20 off (even this is low) or $1K+ off (seems unbelievably high)
  • OR say we’re dropping the price from $X to $Y if the $ off discount is significant
  • OR mention the sale price in the context of how much the featured product usually costs

Here are some headline examples honing in on markdowns:

Typically most headlines should focus on a mixture of the discount and deal feature, but in cases where the discount isn’t at all compelling — it’s most effective to focus exclusively on the deal feature:

  • Loot Crate’s Mystery Box is a great holiday gift for your favorite gamers and geeks
  • Make your own cold brew anywhere with this portable coffee maker

Above all, commerce content should tell a story – whether it’s a discount, an interesting feature, a surprising result, etc. – every product, publisher, and moment is unique. Great commerce content is beneficial to all parties: readers discover great products on their favorite publications and publishers make the profits they need to succeed. The year ahead promises to bring to light best practices on how to navigate the complex world of affiliate and native commerce, and we will continue to share our findings to help publishers surpass their expectations and delight their readers daily.

Content Is King: 5 Incredible Stories from Our Partners in 2016

Content Is King: 5 Incredible Stories from Our Partners in 2016

2016 marked a transformative year for publisher monetization. Facebook’s algorithm shift was a lesson in ‘expecting the unexpected’, and The New York Times’ acquisition of The Wirecutter a lesson in ‘doing as the giants do’. The decline of traditional display ads continued steadily, and the rise of native advertising content accelerated above and beyond predictions.

We’re proud to be at the forefront of this evolutionary time, and excited to see what 2017 will have in store. To celebrate the end of a year marked by spectacular native content, we’re sharing 5 incredible stories from our publisher partners.

Engadget: The essential VPN buyers guide

 

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This deep dive into VPN usage delivers an informative look at the increasing importance of these protective services. From how a VPN actually works to how to choose the right VPN for your online habits, this article successfully delivered an important message to their readers at a highly relevant moment in digital security.

 

The Daily Dot: Semi Automatic Rubber Band Guns

 

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Content, of course, is not limited to words and punctuation, and the Daily Dot proved the unbridled potential for Facebook video as a medium for publisher monetization in 2016. This “snackable” video showcasing the use of a retro-style rubber band gun has drawn over 2 million views, proving one should never underestimate the appeal of an old fashion office rubber band fight.

 

AOL.com: 5 reasons you shouldn’t drive without a dashcam

 

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With an influx of dashcam footage surfacing in the mainstream media, AOL tapped into this growing trend with a piece centered around practical use cases of a dashcam. From recording fender benders in the parking lot to fighting insurance fraud, this article speaks to even the least tech-savvy of drivers.

 

Digg: 8 Stocking Stuffer Gifts That Do Not Suck

 

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Digg successfully mastered the art of the listicle with its unique holiday ode to the stocking stuffer. A much needed breath of fresh air from the typical gift guide, this holiday roundup offered up Magnetic Space Putty and a Toilet Bowl Light as clever alternatives to the typical socks and dental floss.

 

The Huffington Post: This Wine Club Is Starting a Revolution

 

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In 2016, President Obama raised a glass of Pezo do Rei Ribeira Sacra, instantly popularizing this Spanish wine and its region of origin. This piece from the Huffington Post touches on the importance of a wine’s story (in addition to its taste) and introduces a wine club that’s out to do just that with every delivery.

3 UX-Friendly Ways To Upsell Your Customers

3 UX-Friendly Ways To Upsell Your Customers

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.

Product Page

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.

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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.

Shopping Cart

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.

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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.

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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.