5 things to get your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving, so we thought it would be an excellent opportunity to steer you towards some of the best tactics to grow your ecommerce business in 2018. If you’re keen to impress your boss or keep your head of marketing happy, then here’s a collection of tools, tactics, and software that would be a welcome addition under the tree.

Staying on top of the latest developments in marketing technology can help you stay ahead of your competitors, keep your customers happy and boost your conversion rates. And with outcomes like that, these are gifts that just keep on giving.

The ultimate data visualization toolkit

Data visualization is more than just a marketing fad; it’s a powerful way to really tell the story of what’s working for your business. With more marketing channels available than ever before, it can be hard to assess what is contributing and driving sales. In truth, most stores rely on multi-channel marketing, and there is often no one single source of sales.

Being able to display complex sets of data in a graphical format that is easy to digest and easier to understand, analyze and interpret can be extremely useful for marketers, business analysts and decision makers.

Attribution modeling is becoming more sophisticated and means analysts can move beyond relying on last-click as the only believable measure of success. Last-click models are dated in that they give all the credit to the channel that generated the last click before a customer completed a sale, without taking into account previous visits, views of prior marketing messages or other steps along the journey to purchase.

Technological improvements mean there is now a wide choice of tools that can help you to drill down into the data and present it most effectively. This helps you more accurately and efficiently distribute and measure your marketing budget. Google’s data-driven attribution setting within Google AdWords uses machine learning to give a more accurate assessment of the impact of your different ad campaigns. The new Google Attribution analytics platform is also set to come out of beta in 2018 and will become more widely adopted, but is available for sign-up now if you want to steal a march on your competitors.

Other tools that will help you wow your boss with your data wrangling skills include the free Google Data Studio, which quickly pulls together charts and graphs using data from your Analytics and AdWords accounts. If your marketing channels expand beyond the Google tools, then Supermetrics offers free and paid plans to help you automate your data collection and reporting from various sources without needing coding skills. It uses plugins and add-ons to pull figures in from all your marketing channels into Excel or Google Sheets, with a gallery of pre-built templates available to help you lay everything out. For more sophisticated business intelligence data, as well as a rich array of interactive options for presenting your data, Tableau and Power BI are worth investigating.

Upgrade your email marketing

Since the advent of the digital age, email has been one of the most powerful channels for gaining and retaining customers. That’s a trend that shows no signs of waning, with email usage expected to top 3 billion users worldwide by 2020. It’s a direct communication tool and a compelling way to connect with consumers.

But despite being an ‘old favorite’ when it comes to online marketing, it’s a platform that is continuing to develop, and you can’t afford to stand still or rely on outdated technology or tactics.

Innovation is essential to achieve continued successes via email, so that means making the most of advances in automation, personalization, segmentation, machine learning, split testing, dynamic content, and advanced audience targeting. Such approaches can grow open rates, click through rates and significantly increase the relevancy and impact of your mailshot campaigns. If your email marketing platform doesn’t offer the option for you to deploy advanced features such as these, then perhaps it’s time you looked at upgrading or investing in some add-on technology. We’ve collected a few tools together for inspiration below.

Phrasee and Persado both integrate with your email service provider, using artificial intelligence-powered natural language processing to optimize subject lines and email copy, with the aim of increasing opens and clicks.

Ubiquitous email provider Mailchimp has really invested in its automation capabilities in recent years, helping you save time and grow interactions with a series of recommended automated email flows, such as welcome messages, cart abandonment emails, customer reactivation offers and much more. Relative newcomer Iterable also places a lot of emphasis on automation, offering a series of granular audience behavior triggers which fire personalized messages across multiple channels, designed for maximum impact. Rules and triggers can take audience segmentation to a new level.

Moveable Ink allows you to send targeted and hyper-relevant content, using dynamic content blocks which can update live in the very moment a customer opens it, changing what they see dependent on factors such as weather, time of day, stock levels, or geographical location.

These are just a handful of companies that are pushing the boundaries of email marketing, so be sure to do your research before choosing a new platform. But keep your CMO happy by staying on top of the latest developments to really maximize the results of your campaigns.

A friendly chatbot to keep your customers happy

Toy robots have always been a popular addition to kids’ Christmas lists around the globe. But a new breed of bot is keeping grownups happy too, by improving customer experiences and helping to drive ecommerce growth.

Chatbots can help scale your sales and support efforts without having to grow your staff headcount. Intelligent bots can automate interactions with customers, improving customer experiences, and providing assistance for common customer service inquiries. They can also help boost sales by tackling cart abandonment, providing live product recommendations, using persuasive messaging to guide customers to the products they want, or offering an alternative way of purchasing goods directly through the consumer’s preferred instant messaging platform.

This rise of ‘conversational commerce’ has seen bots created and used by some of the world’s biggest retailers to allow shoppers to complete purchases on apps such as Facebook Messenger, Kik or Twitter.

There is no shortage of intelligent bots appearing all the time, whether for streamlining communications with your customers on your own site, or offering a way to connect with them on social media sites and instant message apps. It’s one of the latest ways that ecommerce is evolving to provide a more customer-centric experience, making it as easy as possible for shoppers to find the information they need, the products they love and buy items with the minimum of effort. Those are all essential ingredients for a winning ecommerce site, so your CMO will be delighted to find a functioning bot under his tree, ready to power up your customer experiences in 2018.

Voice-powered personal assistant

Plenty of people are expected to be unwrapping an Amazon Echo or Google Home this Christmas Day. But making sure your marketing chief gets their hands on one is about more than just making sure he has a cool gadget to play with. Getting to grips with the capabilities of voice assistants and understanding how consumers will use them will be essential for marketing professionals in 2018.

Voice search has been a regular presence on digital trend lists for the past few years. But with reports suggesting that as many as 40% of households will own a voice-powered smart speaker in 2018, and Amazon estimated to have shipped around 10 million Echos in 2017, this is a trend that online businesses need to take more seriously than ever.

Voice searches were said to have accounted for 20% of all mobile Google searches in 2016, a proportion that has grown dramatically in recent years. SEO and paid search marketers will all need to keep a close ear on how voice searches can impact the search results and how this shifting consumer behavior will affect campaigns. A lot of work is being done to make the integration between voice assistants and ecommerce as smooth as possible too, with shoppers already able to order products directly without having to input payment details or rely on a keyboard.

For modern ecommerce sites and online retailers, it’s essential to stay on top of this latest trend, as it may have a significant impact on shopping habits in 2018.

Turbo-fueled testing for your website

One of the biggest barriers to a successful conversion optimization program is the volume of A/B and multivariate tests being run. But if you told your CMO that you could exponentially increase the number of design variations to test in the new year, they’d no doubt be happy with that.

When you consider how many elements are on a typical ecommerce page and how many pages there are on a typical ecommerce journey, there’s an awful lot of things that could impact the likelihood of shoppers buying from you. That means there many things that can be tested. Trying to test different versions of these elements, and then different combinations of how these elements work together can quickly leave you with hundreds if not thousands of potential designs to try out. This is something that simply isn’t practical with most traditional A/B testing platforms.

But Sentient Ascend tackles this issue and allows you to test multiple variations all at once. It uses artificial intelligence and evolutionary algorithms to deliver thousands of versions of a page, combining the power of machine learning with your own creative hypotheses, identifying optimal combinations and intelligently picking out those with the most potential to grow your sales.

It allows for high-impact testing at a scale and volume not possible before, allowing you to test more of your ideas, faster and more efficiently. The result? Your best conversion rates ever and fast growth for your site in 2018. That sounds like the best Christmas present any online retailer could hope to get.