How to Find Success on Shopify

Shopify, one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce platforms, is growing at such a rapid rate that it’s projected to overtake eBay as the second-largest e-commerce platform in 2020, according to CNBC.

While that kind of growth offers massive opportunity for Shopify retailers, it’s also quickly becoming a much more competitive space. Shopify now has more than 1 million merchants active on its platform, all of whom are working to differentiate themselves and outsell the competition.

So what’s the secret to gaining more traction with your Shopify store? Let’s take a closer look at seven key tips for better Shopify store development.

1. Prioritize customer service — and outsource if necessary

E-commerce doesn’t have to mean minimal customer service. In fact, it was Jeff Bezos’ famous “customer obsession” that helped Amazon become a global heavyweight. Yet for most people operating Shopify businesses, dealing with customers is an enormous time suck. While keeping your clients happy is critical, most people simply lack the bandwidth for the task.

Instead, it makes sense to outsource customer service functions. The international call center business is booming, and you can find qualified customer service freelancers on just about any major Gig Economy marketplace. It’s important to ensure that the workers you contract with have first-class fluency in English. Adding live chat is another element that can really improve the customer experience.

2. Focus on the right design

Great design is crucial to the success of any Shopify site. This begins with choosing an appropriate theme. Find one that fits the look and feel of your brand or signature products. The right theme can have a dramatic impact on the visual atmosphere and overall user experience of your site.

While Shopify offers some free design templates, you can also choose to pay for some of the premium designs the company offers. Unsurprisingly, the premium templates tend to be more eye-catching, which can help your site stand out with a fresh look. In addition to the look and feel of your site, you’ll also need to consider how design impacts functionality. Do you want larger images? A wider Instagram feed? These small decisions can have a significant impact on how your products are browsed and purchased, so weigh these decisions carefully.

Generally speaking, it’s also a smart idea to design with certain principles in mind. Your site should feel clean and uncluttered. An overabundance of design elements or products can confuse or irritate visitors and encourage them to depart without buying.

3. Incorporate and optimize elements stressing your originality

Templatized websites run the risk of appearing a bit cookie-cutter, but there are a few steps you can take to make your site appear fresh and original. First, commission striking, original photography and avoid over-reliance on stock imagery. This can go a long way toward giving your site some visual panache that makes it stand out from other e-commerce offerings.

Second, create copy that is truly creative and that engages the reader. Too often Shopify copy is bland and boilerplate. By coming up with lively product descriptions and other copy, you can help convert buyers and differentiate your approach. You’ll also want to choose headlines that stand out from the crowd and that are calibrated to resonate with your target demographics. Figure out why people would be interested in your products and use that as a guide for creating catchy headlines. Humor — in the appropriate contexts — is also a big plus.

4. Check out the competition and test your approach

Auditing other e-commerce sites is a smart way to evaluate your own approach. You can take what they are doing well and adapt it for your own purposes, while also identifying any deficiencies in their approach and capitalizing on them.

Incorporating some simple A/B testing into your site can also help you learn what people are really responding to. These tests allow you to take two versions of a screen, headline or some other element and evaluate how visitors interact with each version. This can be an invaluable tool for learning what converts and what causes people to disengage.

5. Build your social proof

There’s no debating it: Reviews are the lifeblood of any e-commerce store. This means it is critical to monitor your reviews and respond in a timely fashion. If there was a legitimate issue, be transparent and forthcoming rather than defensive, and offer to make it right. This will often disarm even the most dissatisfied customers and help turn negative interactions into positive ones.

Encourage your customers to leave photo reviews whenever possible. Visitors enjoy these and they often seem more credible than text reviews. The more smiling and happy customers you can showcase on Shopify the stronger your business will be.

6. Tread carefully with shipping costs

Excessive shipping costs are one of the most common reasons why customers do not follow through with e-commerce orders. For online retailers, nothing is more frustrating than getting a customer all the way to the checkout page…only to have the product deleted from the cart because of elevated shipping charges.

E-commerce consumers have been conditioned to expect low or no-cost shipping by Amazon Prime, so it’s a wise idea to either build the cost of shipping into your products or figure out an alternative method for defraying costs.

7. Use a well-designed SEO and programmatic ad strategy

An up to date Search optimization strategy plays an essential role in helping people locate you. Most site owners aren’t experts at search, so it often makes sense to bring a marketing agency or SEO expert into the mix. The rules governing SEO are always evolving, so working with an expert can save you the hassle of trying to master search and remain perennially current on the latest changes to Google’s ranking algorithm. It also makes sense to work with a Shopify agency that specializes in this kind of overall site development.

Pay-per-click ad strategies are easier to learn, as you can get a lot of traction by researching keywords and slowly refining your approach over time. Taken together, both strategies can go a long way toward jumpstarting your Shopify revenue.

The takeaway

Shopify is second only to Amazon in terms of the opportunity it offers e-commerce retailers. By following these seven tips and practicing smart Shopify development, you can get faster traction, differentiate your site and generate more revenue.

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Starter Children, Fur Babies, and a DTC Success Story

If your fur baby could help lead you to a $250 million DTC subscription service, wouldn’t you want to be set for success?

Millennials are delaying child-rearing. Millennials love dogs. Millennials are receptive to DTC subscription services and advertising.

What do these three things have in common?

They’re a recipe for a $250 million business.

Barking up the money tree

It’s hardly surprising that younger people are delaying home-purchasing, parenting and other traditional milestones. Student loan debt is at historic levels and wage growth has been flat.

While you can’t eliminate the paternal/maternal impulse, you can reroute it. Priced out of parenthood, millennials are turning their thwarted parental impulses toward pets. 

Call them starter children, fur babies, or absurdly over-indulged animals, the numbers don’t lie: 44% of millennials see their pets as proxy children.

Brands in the flourishing pet care space have been quick to capitalize on this sentiment. Yet none are quite so well-positioned as DTC brands, who are firmly in the millennial sweet spot. They offer boutique, cleverly marketed products to a narrow yet hardcore audience; they deliver to your door and they are price competitive.

That’s more or less the millennial trifecta, and one of the brands that have been most successful at deploying this strategy is BarkBox. 

BarkBox is a DTC subscription service that delivers a box of dog treats to your door. Not revolutionary, sure. Yet the idea plays beautifully on several consumer preferences.

  • You don’t have to leave the house and visit a pet store full of poorly-differentiated toys and treats
  • You don’t have to spend time choosing what to buy
  • Your dog treats arrive in a box, curated for your pet’s enjoyment
  • The contents of each box are a mystery, making the process a bit like opening a gift
  • BarkBoxes are sold direct-to-consumer, with the parent company (Bark) largely relying on Facebook for marketing during its early growth phase

That’s a winning formula, and not just for pets. Another popular DTC subscription service, Universal Yums, curates boxes of candy and snacks from across the globe and sends a new box from a different country to subscribers each month. 

BarkBox, which handles its creative in-house, recently tested its first direct response TV ad, then measured the number of new subscriptions gained in the immediate wake of the ad. It’s a strategy that many DTC businesses are following, as they try to do more with less outside the confines of the traditional large agency model.

Direct to consumer marketing strategies have a variety of powerful benefits for brands such as Bark: They allow more control over brand messaging, they reduce costs, and they enhance flexibility.

Partnering with the right DTC marketing agency can help small businesses unlock these benefits and drive real, tangible results.

The takeaway

Small DTC businesses often lack the resources to partner with the largest agencies – yet that doesn’t mean they can’t have access to world-class campaigns. At Bigeye, we understand the DTC subscription service and advertising market on a deep level, and we’re nimble enough to help you create compelling direct to consumer marketing campaigns on demand. 

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Why Direct to Consumer Brands Need TV Ads

Direct to consumer brands are winning market share from brick and mortar retailers – but they need the power of legacy TV to take the next step.

Direct to consumer (DTC or D2C) companies have taken full advantage of paid social and paid search to bootstrap growth. The dominant digital ad trio of Instagram, Facebook and Google has allowed DTC brands to reach vast audiences on a fairly limited budget.

Yet if DTC brands want to maintain or even exceed their early growth trajectory, they need to look beyond direct to consumer marketing to a legacy channel: Television.

Why DTC + TV is the growth equation for brands

According to data from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB), TV spending among DTC brands is rising. The Bureau tracked Nielsen research data from 125 DTC brands and found that they spent $3.8 billion, collectively, on TV ads in 2018.

The more interesting statistic, however, is this: 70% of these DTC brands were spending ad money on TV ads for the first time in 2018. Top spenders in the DTC TV ad category include prominent names such as Chewy, Smile Direct Club, Purple and Peloton, all of whom spent more than $100 million in 2018 alone.

Purple, a mattress company, was particularly notable, spending $140 million after spending almost nothing on TV ads in 2017.

In many cases, this was money well spent. Peloton, for example, doubled its sales to $700 million in 2018 after increasing its TV ad spend by 48%.

Overall, DTC brands increased their total spending on TV ads by 60% in 2018. Total ad investment by all brands in the category reached $3.8 billion last year.

What’s behind the increased spending?

There’s a reason why DTC brands are pumping money into TV in unprecedented numbers: They need to scale, and quickly. DTC companies have, in most cases, validated themselves and their model within the market; now they face heightened competition from other DTC brands and traditional retailers who are rolling out their own DTC strategies.

This trend is supported by changing consumer behavior. According to a study from YouGov, 64% of Internet users say that 20% (or more) of their total purchases will occur through DTC brands. Businesses are staking out territory now to capture this revenue.

TV is playing a critical role in this process, as DTC brands seek to leverage its vast reach to drive viewers into the online marketing funnel, as shown by VAB data:

  • Turo, a car sharing startup, increased online video views by 5,100% after increasing its TV ad spend.
  • GrubHub increased its online video views by 1,100% after tripling its TV ad spend.
  • Poshmark saw online search queries increase by 6,900% after increasing its ad spend by 8,400%.
  • Barkbox witnessed a search query gain of 824% after increasing its ad spend by 726%.

Current data also shows that viewers are receptive to this strategy. Research done by Telaria showed that DTC shoppers who are shown both linear and connected TV ads are twice as likely to buy. 

Overall, DTC brands are using TV to exponentially increase exposure and awareness, which results in massive increases in search interest, online engagement and, ultimately, sales.

Another factor influencing DTC growth is cost. While digital advertising is still much less expensive than TV, the cost of advertising on Facebook and other platforms is rising. 

The takeaway

DTC brands have used a digital-first approach to grow and win market share while operating on relatively small budgets. 

That strategy, however, is becoming less relevant as DTC brands mature. In order to reach the vast new pool of consumers outside their digital sphere, it becomes necessary for DTC brands to enter the TV market, where potential buyers can be engaged and guided to online channels. 

At BIGEYE, we’re experts at helping DTC companies reach their full potential through savvy media buying and strategy. We can help you scale and reach new audiences with creatively inspiring new campaigns, smart media buying strategies, and advanced audience analysis and market intelligence.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today to learn what a truly great marketing campaign can do for your brand.

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Why Direct to Consumer Pharma Ads Remain a Global Anomaly

Direct to consumer prescription drug ads are everywhere in the US — and almost unseen everywhere else. Here’s why.

In the U.S., consumers are bombarded with ads for pharmaceuticals — so much so, in fact, that the very form has become a cliché (think about “active seniors” pursuing their favorite activities while a narrator rattles off a list of side effects). If you work for a pharmaceutical advertising agency that isn’t based stateside, it’s an entirely different world, however. 

The U.S. is the only large market where direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising is permissible. Only one other country (the ‘tiny by comparison’ New Zealand) allows the practice — and that nation has seen repeated efforts to ban consumer prescription drug ads.

Let’s take a closer look at why direct to consumer drug marketing works, and any changes that could lie ahead.

The Power of Direct Advertising

While direct advertisements for pharmaceuticals are now inescapable, the truth is that they’ve only been around for 22 years. The practice of marketing medications to consumers was made legal under the Clinton Administration in 1997, immediately unleashing a torrent of new advertising on the public in a previously unseen category.

The rationale behind this move was simple: When people suffering from a certain affliction would see an ad for a product that treats their symptoms, they would ask their physician about the product, opening up an important dialogue about their health in the process.

However, the reality hasn’t always proved so simple. When direct advertising certainly works in terms of generating brand awareness and sales, some physicians have raised objections about the role it plays in patient health.

In a Food and Drug Administration survey, 65% of physicians reported feeling that direct advertising sent confusing messages to patients; a smaller number of physicians reported feeling pressure to prescribe as a result of direct ads.

This has occurred against a backdrop of massive expansion in direct pharma advertising dollars. According to a Journal of the American Medical Association study, total direct pharma ad spending grew more than 360% from 1997 to 2016.

The reason for that ad spend is simple: It results in sales, and lots of them. Another federal study showed that for every $1,000 pharma companies spend on direct advertising, they add 24 new patients. Pharmaceuticals supported by direct consumer ads add patients at a rate seven times higher than drugs without ads.

Alternative Approaches to Direct Ads

One alternative to direct pharma advertising that has gained traction in recent years is the Disease Awareness Campaign (DAC). This model eschews product-specific direct ads in favor of a less commercial advertising approach that aims to heighten awareness.

Gilead, one of the world’s leading drug developers, has used the DAC approach in support of its new hepatitis C treatment. The ads encourage people to seek testing for the disease without getting into the merits of Gilead’s product. 

Ultimately, it is unlikely that we see a move to significantly restrict direct pharmaceutical advertising in the US. In fact, it seems likely that other nations may follow the lead of the U.S. and New Zealand and loosen regulations. The European Commission, in fact, has undertaken hearings to explore that possibility, though any approved ads would likely be much less promotional in nature than what is seen in the U.S.

If you’re running a pharma brand or a pharmaceutical advertising agency, perhaps the best approach is one of moderation. Take advantage of the reach and efficacy of direct advertising, but make sure it’s done in a way that stresses awareness and maintains a sense of professional ethics. 

Ultimately, drug companies, physicians, and patients all need to pull in the same direction to create better health outcomes.

The Takeaway

At BIGEYE, we believe that a great pharmaceutical advertising agency offers its clients three things: Domain expertise, advanced technological tools, and a sophisticated understanding of the existing marketing landscape.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about what BIGEYE can do for you.

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Use These Tactics to Advertise Like Chewy.com

DTC brands are known for their clever, original, and on-trend ads. Read what we can learn from the pet product marketing tactics Chewy.com uses to connect with audiences.

In a few short years, DTC (or D2C) brands have gone from a novelty to an essential part of the lives of most consumers. They’ve also inspired corporate heavyweights to follow their lead. Nike plans to reach $20 billion in direct to consumer sales by 2020 — a 300% increase from five years earlier.

Many of the newer DTC brands who have become household names have used highly memorable and creative direct to consumer marketing approaches to gain traction. One such example is Chewy.com, a DTC pet brand. Let’s take a closer look at how Chewy.com advertises, and what we can learn from their pet product marketing approach.

Using a savvy DTC ad strategy to build market share

This Chewy.com ad cleverly targets the new parent demographic. One of the primary benefits of Chewy’s direct to consumer marketing model is convenience — it delivers toys, chews, food, and treats directly to a consumer’s home, in a box.

For new parents, saving a trip to the local brick and mortar pet store is a significant draw. Chewy’s ad shows how its service can ease the burden of new parenthood, often one of life’s most overwhelming experiences.

Chewy’s ad is smart for another reason: It targets a large and growing demographic. Pets are often regarded as “training babies” by millennials, who are delaying the rituals and milestones of adulthood longer than earlier generations. Because younger people humanize their pets and treat them as family members, they are more willing to pay for premium products and services. Focusing on the “new parents with a dog” market is a smart move for Chewy.com, given their passion and willingness to spend.

Chewy’s ads also make an economic case familiar to DTC or D2C brands. This ad stresses that all the products offered by Chewy are not only cheaper than those found in a brick and mortar retailer, they also come with free shipping.

It’s a powerful ad because today’s “pet parents” want to do more for their animals, but they may be constrained by lack of income (a particular problem for younger pet parents). Chewy’s ad maintains that it’s possible to buy the best for your animal by opting for their low overhead DTC model.

Chewy.com also released ads focusing on the ease of the delivery and exciting experience of “unboxing” a collection of dog food, treats and toys; an ad showing how Chewy.com customer service reps can assist with helping find food for dogs and cats who are “picky eaters”; and ads that feature specific owners and their dogs, all enjoying Chewy.com boxes.  

All of the ads are upbeat, brief and colorful and feature lots of testimonials and images of happy pets. Additionally, all of the company’s pet product marketing messages highlight at least one aspect of Chewy.com DTC value proposition: Cheaper products, easy delivery, the boxing experience, etc.

Experience-based advertising and marketing, Chewy-style

Chewy.com has also “clawed its way into the public consciousness” by creating memorable experiences for its customers (and their pets) to share.

Chewy operates on the premise that consumers only share two types of experiences online: Great ones and terrible ones. So Chewy, obviously, strives to generate the former.

The company has drawn notice for sending flowers and condolences to a customer who called to cancel an order after a pet’s unexpected death. The customer was stunned and appreciative and later shared the story on social media.

Chewy is also known for sending handwritten notes addressed directly to its customers’ pets — a whimsical touch that plays extremely well in an era when most of us humanize our animals.

The takeaway

DTC brands seeking to build awareness, attract new audiences, and engage with their existing customers would do well to consider Chewy’s direct to consumer marketing, DTC advertising, and customer service model.

Chewy’s ads are not high concept; instead, they hammer home the core value proposition of the company’s DTC model and show plenty of happy and excited pets.

At BIGEYE, we have the experience and expertise to create top drawer DTC ad campaigns such as those created by Chewy.com. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you reach your goals.

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How Direct to Consumer Brands Can Market Creatively

Direct to consumer (DTC or D2C) brands are capturing the public’s imagination — and also their dollars. Here’s how your brand can market creatively.

The ripple effects of the Internet and social media are responsible for countless changes to the way we work and live. Yet the impact these technologies have had on business is no less profound. Today, direct to consumer brands can reach new audiences at a fraction of the cost associated with legacy marketing approaches.

In order to do so, however, they need one thing: Creatively inspired marketing and advertising, supported by sophisticated technology and consumer insights.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at three creative marketing tips for direct to consumer brands.

Unlock the full potential of influencer marketing

Direct to consumer brands have bootstrapped their way to growth by leveraging search tools and social media. Instead of expensive (and poorly targeted) TV campaigns, brands cultivated their audience through digital advertising and social outreach.

The results have been impressive, as direct to consumer brands continue to take a larger and larger slice of the overall consumer pie.

This marketing approach, when done well, comes across as more organic and less mediated. It allows brands to build a grassroots online audience of loyal fans and brand ambassadors. 

Influencer marketing can play a critical role in this strategy. Influencers are perceived as more authentic than legacy ads and they often already hold sway over a large segment of a brand’s target audience.

The influencer economy also developed organically — it wasn’t dreamed up as some mad experiment in a Madison Avenue ad shop. Given these attributes, it makes for a natural pairing with direct to consumer brands.

Growth in the influencer economy continues to be robust — 320 new influencer platforms and influencer-based agencies were launched in 2018. Dealing with influencers one-to-one can be tricky (many aren’t fully professionalized), so it makes sense to use an agency with expertise as a conduit.

Focus on simplicity

Consumers — and people, generally — dislike complexity. Sometimes the best marketing and advertising messages are most simple and straightforward.

This is particularly applicable to direct to consumer brands. Many companies in this category have made a name for themselves (and earned substantial marketing share) by offering a simpler, better take on an existing product.

Consider the example of Harry’s. This direct to consumer razor company began with a simple idea: cheap razors are terrible to use, but high quality razors are absurdly expensive. Harry’s entered the market with an excellent razor sold at a mid-range price and began stealing market share from Gillette.

Direct to consumer pants seller Bonobos succeeded with an equally simple premise. They realized that men hate shopping for pants, and that most mass market pants fit poorly.

Bonobos offered well-fitting pants that found a middle ground between style and comfort — and they sent them directly to consumer doors. The idea was so simple — and successful — that the company was eventually bought by Wal-Mart.

This commitment to simplicity isn’t constrained to product designs or marketing opportunity. Direct to consumer brands such as Harry’s, Chewy.com, Bonobos etc. have historically kept their marketing messages simple. They offer a laser focus on the product’s core value proposition, and relay it to consumers in elegantly simple terms.

Take advantage of the most powerful tools and platforms

TV advertising may offer reach, but digital advertising allows you to target with precision. Direct to consumer brands should take full advantage of programmatic buying when pushing a campaign. 

One of the advantages a direct to consumer brand often has over brick and mortar retailers is the closeness of their relationship with customers. Because DTC brands deal with consumers directly, with no middleman involved, they have an opportunity to create meaningful personalized experiences.

They also have the opportunity to collect an enormous amount of actionable data, which can help them show more relevant ads to their audiences.

The takeaway

At BIGEYE, we’ve got the experience and domain expertise to help you craft direct to consumer marketing campaigns that get results. Don’t wait to contact us today for more information on how we can help your DTC brand stand out.

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