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ecommerceIQ, together with Sasin SEC, created the Leadership Ecommerce Accelerator Program (LEAP) to provide the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to successfully run an ecommerce business in the world’s fastest-growing market.

The third week of LEAP dove into a session disproving what most marketers still commonly think of as the “magic dust of strong sales” and introduced digital marketing concepts such as SEO, SEM and retargeting tools to students looking to grow their customer base.

Here are some of last week’s LEAP highlights:

1. “Growth hacking is bullshit, there is no shortcut to growing your business”

SHEJI HO, GROUP CMO, ACOMMERCE
ecommerce growth marketing

Sheji Ho, aCommerce Group CMO at LEAP 2017

The biggest takeaway from Sheji’s two hour lecture on digital marketing is that companies should ask themselves “if the market needs their product” before spending money on Google and Facebook ads. Popular businesses like ofo, Seekster and Blue Apron, may run into trouble because they lack what Brian Balfour refers to as “market-product fit”.

Examples below:

ofo – Thailand’s roads are the second deadliest in the world, does it make sense to have bike sharing in Bangkok?

Seekster – home service on demand started in the US but churn rate began increasing because once a user finds a suitable cleaner through the platform, most home owners would take the transaction offline.

Blue Apron – once people learned what ingredients to buy and how to cook the meals, would they continue ordering expensive meal kits?

ecommerce growth marketing“Before you spend money at your product, does your business make sense in this time and this market? Because if not, people won’t use your product regardless of how much money you throw at it.”

2. Ok Google, teach me about SEO

KORAVUT PAVITPOK, HEAD OF GROWTH MARKETING, ACOMMERCE
ecommerce growth marketing

Koravut (Bom) Pavitpok, aCommerce Head of Growth Marketing

What is Google’s market share in Thailand?

A whooping 99%.

It’s almost essential then to understand how Google search can drive quality online traffic to your website through proper SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing) and dynamic retargeting.

Based on factors such as search volume and intent, companies can bid on keywords to capture the attention of Thailand’s most likely buyers.

ecommerce growth marketing

The more accurately you can target users on the lower end of the funnel, the more likely to see conversions on your ecommerce channels.

Think of Google search like street names,” says Bom Pavitpok. “You want to be on the most popular street for your particular category.”

The next LEAP class is on Thursday September 28th, 2017 taking a look at social media marketing, Google analytics and a Central Marketing Group case study. Stay tuned for next week’s takeaways.

[LEAP Week 1] eIQ Insights: The New Ecommerce Opportunity in Thailand

[LEAP Week 2] eIQ Insights: Refinement of an Ecommerce Channel Strategy


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Instagram celebrated the first anniversary of IG Stories earlier this month. In one year, the platform has become one of the most important online channels for brands to reach customers as more than 70% of IG users follow a brand page and 22% of shoppers have regularly used Instagram to browse products.

With 250 million daily active users, Instagram Stories has become a new favourite tool for marketers as half of the businesses on the social channel have produced a story in the last month alone.

Its appeal comes from the contrast of Instagram’s two functions; the polished image shots and the “raw” side of the capture process.

“Within the same platform now we’ve got this lovely juxtaposition that allows you to tell a richer story, but maybe [providing] a more authentic, or more earthy experience alongside the more polished core visuals,” said Hugh Pile, CMO L’Oreal Western Europe.

Instagram Stories Brands

L’Oreal’s post on Instagram Stories

However, with so many advertising channels now available to brands, it is important to know what is the right content to produce on Instagram Stories for success.

The path to conversions

There are five main categories of activity that brands can encourage users to do with the feature in the ads for Instagram Stories, but shopping is the most popular objective for brands as 59% of the ads Stories produced since its launch in March linked to a page where the products featured in the ads were available online.
Instagram Stories Brands

 

“Instagram has integrated ecommerce handoff technology into Stories, namely swipe-up links leading to brand sites, linked influencer tags, and checkout buttons that support brand efforts to move beyond engagement metrics and render their live video content shoppable.” – L2

Brands also use Stories as a gateway or teaser to drive traffic to more elaborate content on platforms like Youtube or Facebook where shareability and engagement are more likely with the user.

Product promotion is still the most popular type of content in Stories, which accounted for 36% of content produced by brands, followed by ‘behind-the-scene’ pieces, and influencer endorsement.

Instagram Stories Brands

Video has also increasingly become a more effective media format that drives online shopping – 34% of Indonesian youth were influenced by video ads to shop online.

With more tools available for brands to engage consumers, especially in a market like Southeast Asia where online marketing channels are dominantly Google and Facebook, it’s time for brands to get more creative.

With Alibaba’s acquisition of Lazada and Southeast Asia’s mirror-like ecosystem to that of China, it’s no surprise that the region’s more popular marketplace is moving towards a more Tmall-like model.

The largest sign being the opportunity for brands to design their own shop-in-shop – called Tmall flagship stores in China. They drive on-site traffic and simply optimizing shop-in-shop text and images can lead to maximum conversions.

In this article, we look at some best practices from popular Tmall flagship stores in China and explore opportunities for brands to improve their shop-in-shop performance on marketplaces in Southeast Asia, specifically Lazada.

Best Practices for Shop-in-Shops: Learnings from China

Tmall’s shop-in-shop concept called flagship stores – 天猫旗舰店 in Chinese – became officially available to brands in 2010. Ever since then, global and local brands and retailers have opened their own branded stores on China’s biggest ecommerce platform.

They include Apple, P&G, Estee Lauder as well as retailers like Costco, Macy’s and even Amazon.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

P&G store on Tmall

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Apple Tmall store

With the help of official TPs (Taobao Partners), agencies who help brands design and operate flagship stores, Tmall stores in China have undergone a massive transformation.

Although every brand has a unique Tmall flagship store identity, there are several patterns that successful brands employ that could be applied to marketplace presence in Southeast Asia, whether today or in the near future. They include:

  1. Bundling
  2. Rich, often video, content for branding, testimonials/social proof, and product tutorials/walkthroughs
  3. Coupons and promotions
  4. Flash sales and time-based offers
  5. Live chat (often split between pre-sales and post-sales live chat)
  6. Reviews management
  7. Unique store design
  8. Product detail page optimization (text, graphics)

Bundling

Bundling is a very common concept on Tmall brand stores because it helps brands achieve three things:

  1. Address channel-conflict, usually online, by creating ‘new’ products by combining them together into a single SKU.
  2. Increases average order values (AOVs) to offset delivery costs. This is frequently applied by CPGs such as Unilever, P&G and Coca-Cola whose products, if sold in single units, wouldn’t make sense for ecommerce.
  3. Quickly testing new product combinations and their traction. For offline retail, it often takes months to get new SKUs into the distribution chain and then another few months to get feedback from customers.
Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Example of P&G product bundling

Rich content for branding, testimonials/social proof, and product tutorials/walkthroughs

Tmall flagship stores have evolved over the last decade to become a viable alternative to brands’ creating their own ecommerce sites. Nowadays, Tmall allows brands to soup up their stores with not only banners and graphics but also more engaging videos.

Why is this important? Because viewers can be 64-85% more likely to purchase after watching a product video.

Below are examples of Estée Lauder and Johnson’s Baby using video on their Tmall flagship store homepages.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Estée Lauder home page on Tmall rich in content

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Johnson & Johnson informative home page on Tmall

Coupons and Promotions

What is Tmall without promotions? Neutrogena’s flagship store has a dedicated section for coupons that can be redeemed and applied right away to increase chances of a browser converting.

Neutrogena coupons on Tmall flagship store

 

Johnson & Johnson’s Aveeno brand offers customers a chance to enter a lucky draw for each purchase.

P&G offers customers a gift set if they spend over 159 RMB, approximately $23.

Flash sales and time-based offers

Aveeno offers 50% off for buyers in the first 5 minute of its flash sale, limited to 1,000 units.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Live chat (often split between pre-sales and post-sales live chat)

Often credited as one of the reasons why Alibaba/Taobao was able to defeat eBay in China is live chat. Since the early days, Taobao offered a way for customers to talk directly to merchants through it’s WangWang chat platform.

When Tmall spun off from Taobao, WangWang was also applied to the B2B2C Tmall model. Nowadays, customers can login and chat directly with the customer service reps of a brand’s Tmall flagship store.

Neutrogena offers dedicated chat lines for pre-sales and post-sales live chat.

Lazada Shop-in-ShopReview management

Tmall allows customers to leave reviews after their purchase and also for merchants to reply to their customers. This offers brands a way to manage their online reputation – something most brands have engaged TPs to help manage due to high volumes.

Below is an example of Neutrogena’s TP helping address a customer’s negative review.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Store design

Having a great-looking and brand-aligned store design can mean the difference between a high and low conversion rate. In China, brands often engage TPs to help them not only manage but also design and decorate their stores.

Adidas’ Tmall flagship store design follows its brand guidelines so customers browsing the store will feel like they’re on the Adidas.com official brand site.

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

 

Product detail page optimization (text, graphics)

Product detail pages (PDP) don’t have to be bland and boring. Tmall’s official stores have taken PDP design to the next level by including high-res images, videos, customer reviews, company details/history, and much more. All this is to help increasing conversion rates by providing customers with as many relevant details as possible as well as establishing trust through brand consistency and social proof.

Left: Tide product detail page on P&G Tmall flagship store

Right: Tide product detail page on P&G Lazada Philippines shop-in-shop

Which one has a higher conversion rate?

Lazada Shop-in-Shop

Best Practices for Shop-in-Shops in Southeast Asia

Obviously, Chinese ecommerce and Tmall are several years ahead of Southeast Asia. However, as Lazada is already moving towards a Tmall model and offering more and more features to brands operating shop-in-shops, there are several best practices that can already be implemented for brands to benefit from:

  1. Brand-centric store design
  2. Rich (video) content
  3. Product detail page optimization (text, graphics)
  4. Onsite SEO
  5. Live chat
  6. Product sampling

Brand-centric store design

Launched as early as 2013, Maybelline was one of the first shop-in-shops on Lazada. As one of the pioneering brands in Thailand ecommerce, Maybelline’s Lazada shop-in-shop store design arguably is the most sophisticated, offering high-res, brand-aligned banners and creatives as well as video content.

Lazada Shop-in-ShopRich (video) content

Lazada offers YouTube video embeds that Maybelline has used to feature campaign and branding videos. Others like La Roche Posay are leveraging videos to explain how to use their products via walkthroughs.

Product detail page optimization (text, graphics)

Brands on Lazada still under perform in terms of PDP optimization. Most SKUs use only a few lines to describe the product and only a few brands have utilized images or videos to spruce up content.

Maybelline PDP on its Lazada Thailand shop-in-shop

Maybelline PDP on Tmall flagship store

Again, which one would convert better?

Onsite SEO

To gain organic traffic coming from Google and also from Lazada, brands should increase the amount of text on their homepage, category and product detail pages. Some of this is done by Lazada but brands should be actively driving this process, either directly or via partners.

Below is an example of the Maybelline Lazada Indonesia shop with footer text optimized for SEO.

 

Live chat

Live chat is pretty much the default standard on Tmall flagship stores but only a few brands are offering it on their Lazada shop-in-shops. One example is La Roche Posay who recently piloted a live chat feature on its Thailand Lazada shop-in-shop for a short trial period that has since ended.

 

Product sampling

Another unique feature that’s currently being piloted on some Lazada shop-in-shops is product sampling. Purina One’s shop on Lazada has a link out to a form where users can sign up to receive free samples. This is a great way for brands to not only acquire new users for their CRM database but also increase the exposure of new products.

As ecommerce continues to develop in our region, more brands are faced with the choice to set up on popular marketplaces or build their own brand.com website.

Setting up shop on marketplaces is more than simply uploading product pictures and hoping for a sale – it requires a similar strategy to setting up a brand.com. Businesses on marketplaces shouldn’t forget about the variety of tools available to them to influence sales and conversion rates and can either choose to do this themselves or partner with a specialist, “TP” in Southeast Asia.


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Ramadan, the time of year when Muslims around the world fast from dawn to dusk, is only six weeks away. The holy month is not only for reflection and prayer through the Islamic world but surprisingly also one of the busiest shopping seasons for businesses.

Online sales and web traffic have been especially profound for online businesses with a rise of 77% and 110%, respectively, during Ramadan last year. With approximately 240 million Muslims in Southeast Asia, the upcoming holy month means more eating, praying and shopping.

But what are observers of this religious festival shopping for? When and where can businesses reach them? Facebook has shared a presentation that contains insights about users during Ramadan. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Shopping peaks before, during and after Ramadan

Ramadan falls on May 27 to June 25 2017, however, sales increase both pre- and post-Ramadan offering businesses a period of nearly three months to capture the attention of potential buyers.

According to Facebook, the pre-Ramadan phase this year falls from April until May 26 followed by the holy Ramadan month, while the post-Ramadan phase falls from June 26 to July 31.

Pre-Ramadan

People start browsing to discover products as early as April, but shopping peaks in the Ramadan month, by as much as 27% compared to the season average in 2016.

Women especially are looking for tips to decorate the home, create a new dish or buy a dress, so it’s best to reach them through online campaigns when they begin prepping for the celebrations.

The pre-Ramadan period is good for offering things like household cleaning supplies as people embrace “purity” and “cleanliness” preparing to welcome Ramadan. The week before Ramadan, people will stock up on food and beverages.

Mobile is the observer’s best friend

  • 60% of Indonesians use the mobile during this season to connect with family and friends. Family, food and the home dominate Facebook conversations.
  • 86% of Indonesians access the internet via the mobile.
  • 96 million people access Facebook monthly on mobile making the platform a smart marketing channel.  
  • More service-based apps are downloaded during and post-Ramadan for a stress-free (28% increase in installs in June, 26% in July).

The Ramadan shopper

The focus is on women during this time of year as more activities become stressful in Ramadan. They include:

  • Keeping a tidy home (30.6%)
  • Cooking (30.4%)
  • Dressing well (27.9%)
  • Entertaining family/friends (19.5%)
  • Being a parent (14.9%)

And because they tend to miss out on relaxing (29%), watching TV shows (20%) and spending time with family/friends (16%), they turn to the mobile to post on Facebook and 50% look for inspiration during Ramadan.

Women namely discuss family, food and beverage and the household in Facebook conversations. The most popular Instagram hashtags during Ramadan include:

  • Hijab, Hijabers, Hijab fashion
  • Fashion
  • Dress
  • Kemeja (shirt)
  • Bajuanak (children’s clothes)
  • Holiday (more local destinations than global)

The most popular shopping topics among women:

  • Clothing – particularly for new clothes for Eid/Lebaran
  • Electronics – TV, Playstation and mobile phones (particularly Samsung)
  • Gifting and promotions

How to reach this demographic? Facebook has shared a handy table for setting up ad campaigns and the topics/keywords to focus on to provide convenience to observers:

Other tips to reach more Ramadan browsers

eIQ case study a few years back found that web traffic peaks in the early hours of the day so boosting online promotions and offers between 3AM to 6AM will be more effective than scheduling those for later in the day.

Digital marketing is a good way to send your brand message to customers during this period, especially if it’s optimized for the mobile device. Businesses also need to be aware that if they are connecting to their audience during this religious time, content should be appropriate and sensitive while providing as much convenience as possible.

  • Inspire with best Ramadan deals: tips for decorating the home, healthy recipes, stylish dresses
  • Begin campaigns early: Start as soon as April (now!) before it gets to Ramadan crunch time.
  • Be a problem solver: Women are stressed about cleaning, cooking and dressing well. Be creative, bundle cleaning supplies with home delivery and curated fashion solutions.

Be it marketing through Facebook, email or any other channel, this is a helpful checklist for optimal marketing efficacy:


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Data analytics is the process of collecting and utilizing data to identify patterns to aid a specific function. It’s a field that encompasses a lot of what digital marketers do – tell stories about consumer behavior.

Analytics reveal which channels, campaigns, keywords, or target audience are top and flop performers, which are all critical to improve the bottom line for online businesses. Despite this, a solid analytics setup and understanding are very often overlooked- this applies to even the biggest names in the industry.

While these companies may spend a staggering amount of dollars on marketing, findings from E-Nor, a US based digital analytics consultant, suggests that analytics is an area where there is under-investment of money and time.

Only 3% of the biggest global brands are using digital analytics correctly.

Source: E-Nor

E-nor’s optimization framework below shows us a bottoms-up approach to grow any online business, where the peak of the pyramid represents success.

Source: E-Nor Optimization Framework

Obviously, business impact at the top means different things for everyone – it could be driving online sales, leads, traffic, ad revenue, or something else altogether – but in order to climb, a business must have a great product and strategy at the foundation.

The focus here is a sound strategy. There is very little point in investing in analytics and optimization without it and only after developing a clear road map and setting KPIs is it time for execution.

What could go wrong?

The three stages that build on the foundation are what veteran marketers find the kryptonite of many online businesses across Southeast Asia: implementation, reporting, and analysis.

Installing web analytics tools like Google Analytics (GA) properly is one thing, but setting up the account and understanding what the output means is a completely different skill set. GA is an insightful tool but can only be as accurate as its implementation.

Imagine if GA was installed in the wrong place or triggered at the wrong time on the website, it would be dangerous to rely the entire business on this data because according to the upstream of the pyramid, poor implementation cascades to poor reporting, analysis, optimization, and in turn affects the business as a whole.

Too often do businesses try to jump straight into ad or web optimization before ensuring the data captured is accurate or if the right metrics are being tracked.  

The focus here is actually a key framework that outlines the entire scope of data analytics that can be structured into these 5-steps:

  1. Audit
  2. Implement
  3. Training

  4. Analyze

  5. Visualize

Demand for all these five components has been growing audibly in recent years, but there is a shortage of talent equipped with the experience and expertise in such niche skill-sets, particularly in Southeast Asia.

Source: aCommerce Analytics

Audit & Implementation

“Data hygiene” doesn’t take care of itself, it requires constant maintenance. In order for GA to track how much traffic and conversions a website is generating, GA tags must be placed wherever these “events” can happen using Google Tag Manager.

For example, if you have a separate mobile site or a website in multiple languages, failure to place tags on all these versions and platforms is an instant red flag. It would mean that reports would be based solely on either desktop traffic and conversions, or collect data coming in from only a Thai version of the website.

A website and its visitors are also constantly changing, mandating a QA process to ensure that those changes do not affect how your analytics tags respond and fire. Since the tags are capturing data directly from the website code, any changes to this code may result in unpredictable and undesirable outcomes.

Once tags are properly implemented, GA account settings need to be tailored to accommodate the features of each website. These tweaks include referral exclusions, spam filters, channel grouping, and AdWords linking. They not only result in more accurate data, but also a cleaner view of data.

Whether it’s having someone audit your current setup or setting it up from scratch, recommended practice is to do this right from Day 0, because the bulk of the data in GA is dead as soon as it has been parsed, meaning there is very little room to retroactively adjust past data.

Once setup is up to standard, we have peace of mind to trust incoming data and derive actionable conclusions from the numbers.

Training

With quality data flowing into GA, the next sensible step is to provide training for those who rely on it daily. GA reports consist of four main components (AABC): audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversions.

Online resources are a great place to start, Google provides free online resources covering topics on GA, but like acquiring any new skill, working with certified instructors can save company employee’s valuable time and accelerate deeper understanding.

Analysis & Visualization

The final pieces of the analytics puzzle lies in data visualization and the analysis itself. With a whole host of reports, metrics, dimensions, and abbreviations to learn and recall, finding trends and actionable insights from huge datasets can be an overwhelming task.

One might have to dive into five different reports from multiple marketing tools in order to answer an everyday question like what were the ad impressions, spend, web traffic, and sales generated from one of our Facebook campaign yesterday?

The ultimate pain point is having to manually map ad impressions and cost data from Facebook, and sales data from our CRM to complement GA sessions.

With a dashboard, imagine a canvas with all the key metrics and charts that can be monitored at a single glance. The setup may be tedious, but a dashboard with automated workflows ensures that this will become a one-time effort.

Google recently released Data Studio- a data visualization tool that makes dashboards centralized, interactive, automated, and shareable.

As often as it gets overlooked, data analytics is a crucial aspect to any online business. Its scope spans beyond a simplistic approach of making analyses and drawing conclusions, but also involves a multifaceted process of auditing and implementing tags, setting up a leak-proof analytics account, and deriving actionable insights from reports via visualization.

From data collection, cleansing, consolidation, to presentation, a strict set of standards and best practices are required in a market where not many are qualified for this expertise.

However, if the business can overcome these hurdles and translate its top-line objectives into metrics, they will only be a few steps away from a strong digital marketing strategy.

By Watasit Chindakawee, Associate Internet Marketing Manager & Analytics Team Lead at aCommerce

Product research is an essential part of the consumer decision making journey. After the initial conception of the idea to buy something, consumers enter the phase of active evaluation gathering information and researching.

Consumer decision journey

Source: The consumer decision journey, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2009

While the ‘research phase’ is driven by consumers as they control where they look for the information, marketers can find ways to influence the process. To do that, however, it is important to know where consumers first find information about products.

Where do Southeast Asians come across new products or offers before making a purchase?

The Consumer Barometer from Google has some answers for that. It’s not a surprise that product discovery in Southeast Asia, similar as elsewhere around the globe, is driven by previous experience and word-of-mouth.

At the same time, pre-purchase research and advertising have influence over consumer decisions.

Source: The Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15. Countries included: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Base: internet users, n=38384

On average, stores and showrooms are still the most common place where 51% of consumers in Southeast Asia discover new products during product research. Online comes second with 39% of consumers while 4% are contacted through the phone via text or phone call.

The behaviors change when we look at each country within Southeast Asia:

Source: The Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15. Base: internet users, n=6527

Singapore leads the digital product discovery journey as 60% of consumers use the internet to find out about new products or offers. Only 34% of the country’s consumers first source of information comes from a store.

In Malaysia, more consumers are first aware of products during the research phase online than in store.

In the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, stores are the first place where consumers begin product discovery but the number of customers that start online is close to the region’s average at 35 to 38%.

In Indonesia, however, the situation is quite different. 76% of consumers discover new products in stores and showrooms, while only 18% come across new finds online.

While in most Southeast Asian countries, the number of consumers being introduced to new products over phone via text messages or phone calls is small, marketers in Thailand have found the mobile phone a good channel to reach customers.

11% of consumers report phone as their first point source for finding new products.

To influence the product discovery journey for Southeast Asians, advertising online and on TV are two of the most effective channels to reach consumers but as expected, the situation differs across countries and verticals.

Source: The Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15. Average of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Base: internet users, n=5338

In Indonesia, advertising on TV is three times more effective than advertising online as 44% of consumers report learning about a product they purchased on TV compared to 15% learning through online advertising.

But for clothing and footwear, advertising online in Indonesia can reach more consumers than advertising on TV.

In Vietnam, online advertising has helped 43% consumers discover new products they purchased, almost two times more than 24% of consumers who became aware of new products through advertising on TV.


Source: The Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15. Base: internet users, n=5338

Marketers in Southeast Asia have multiple channels to reach consumers and should keep an open mind when promoting for their respective brands.

A mix of online and TV advertising, running a content rich blog and betting on relevant keywords are as important as training sales staff in store to learn what customers want to recommend new products.

Happy basket building.