4 Ways You Can Actually Protect Your Consumers

Modern consumers are afraid to share their personal data online because they are aware of the probable negative outcomes of allowing personal information to fall into the wrong hands. Their attitude towards behavioral targeting is significantly affecting their usual online purchasing behavior. Therefore, it has become important for the marketers to balance the advantages of behavioral advertising with the consumer privacy concerns. Consumers’ trust in the brands depends on how the marketers protect the privacy of their customers.

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This blog post talks about four effective strategies that the Internet marketers should use to protect the consumers from potential fraud and to influence the consumers’ online behavior.

1. Limited Data Collection and Retention: Personally Identifiable Data (i.e. name, age, address, locations, etc.) are more sensitive than Non-PII Data. However, once the PII or Non-PII data are stored on the websites, it is possible for the third parties to hack the storage and steal the info of the web surfers. Uncontrolled data collection can eventually expose the web surfer fully. Therefore, it has become obligatory for the marketers to have full control over their PII and Non-PII data collection process of behavioral tracking.

Marketers should also retain the collected data for the shortest time possible. They must not keep the data that they do not need for their behavioral targeting purpose. Retaining those data for an extended period can significantly increase the risk of fraudulent activities. Federal Trade Commission stated that businesses should not keep any data that is no longer needed in to fulfill a legitimate business or law enforcement need.

2. Increasing Websites’ Security: It is important for the companies to increase their websites’ security to prevent the harms associated with BT. Customers are likely to share their information more on those sites that have strong built-in security systems. For instance, SSL encryption is a security system that the companies can implement while collecting sensitive consumer data online. Sensitive data can include credit card number, Social Security number, personal health information, Tax ID numbers, and bank information such as routing number and account number.

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This privacy measure can help them avoid common encryption mishaps, such as failing to encrypt login or password retrieval web pages. There are other security measures that they should implement to increase their websites’ security, such as: keeping scripts updated, imposing robust password policy, using a secure domain and host, and scan the sites regularly to check server vulnerabilities.

3. Increase Consumer Awareness for Behavioral Targeting: One of the biggest challenges for the behavioral profilers is educating their customers about it, and helping them understand what it is all about. Lack of awareness about behavioral tracking technologies and tools are making the customers more distrustful of this approach of online advertising. A study conducted by TRUSTe and TNS (2009, p. 8) reported, “Three-quarters of consumers say they know how to protect their personal information online, yet 39% admit that they do not consistently take the necessary steps to do so.”

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Customers should be aware of the usage of their data and be familiar with the tools that they can utilize to keep their information secure. A majority of consumers feel comfortable with online behavioral advertising when they receive relevant, quality, free and tailored ads or online content. Content strategists should educate the consumers about the benefits and usage of BT technologies to explain them the win-win situation for both marketers and customers. When customers will understand the benefits they are going to receive by using BT tools, it would be easier for them to consider sharing their Non-PII data on the web.

4. Being More Transparent: Marketers should be more open about their behavioral tracking activities. This study encourages the development of creative and effective disclosure mechanisms that are separate from the companies’ privacy policies. Recent researches showed that customers do not mind being tracked by Amazon because they trust Amazon; they know that Amazon is collecting their data and that data will be used to provide a better experience on the site and also to provide customers with timely and relevant offers from Amazon. This note suggests that company that wants to engage in behavioral targeting needs first to build trust with the consumers before they start targeting them.

Companies should also ask for informed consent on their websites from the customers. FTC’s online behavioral advertising guidelines strongly emphasized on transparency and consumer control. It requires websites that collect behavioral advertising data to:

(1) State that they are doing so and (2) allow consumers to opt out of this collection. It also requires behavioral advertisers who collect data outside the “traditional website context” to “develop alternative methods of disclosure and consumer choice that meet the standards described above.”

Understanding the privacy policies of a website help the users take the informed decision. Marketers should make their privacy policies and opt-out options appear clearly on their sites. The words and sentence structures of that policy statement should be straightforward, concise, clear and noticeable. Web sites should notify the user every time it is attempting to capture the Non-PII data.

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Usability and Design in Website Development

“Usability comes first” is a true rule of website development, but design plays a critical role in creating great user experience (Felton, 2013). According to Nielson (2006), “Website designers make a huge mistake when they focus around usability alone, just because it is thought to be more important for users. Usability and design should go together as CSS and PHP, as Header and Footer, as content and layout.” This week’s blog post will discuss the design and usability of Burger King’s website along with the websites of McDonalds and Wendy’s.

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As mentioned above, a site’s usability mainly depends on its design. A fast website with a friendly entry form, yet colored in an unsuitable color palette and with old-fashioned fonts would never succeed among the users. However, website usability is about user-centered design. Burger King’s website is primarily designed to engage the viewers and to promote exciting offers. The web designer chose a warm color palette in the design of this brand’s website. The images used on the website are very colorful and appealing. Also, the site lists menu items in traditional navigation style.

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The five tasks, assigned to the three users, to test the usability of this website and other two sites were:

  1. Browse the site from a mobile device and a tablet.
  2. Order some food online
  3. List some of their current promotional offers
  4. Sign up for the newsletter
  5. Find out store locations and hours of operations

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The tasks above were chosen as the different criteria to be used to compare the companies’ websites. The results after interpreting the data collected from the users are discussed below:

Mobile Friendliness:

All of the users were able to browse the websites from their mobile devices. However, two of them mentioned that they struggled with the site of Burger King. According to them, the navigation style of its mobile web is not user-friendly. Since the homepage of BK is very long, it takes substantial time to load the page. The users did not like the wait time. Compared to BK, McDonalds and Wendy’s have clearer and more concise homepage in their mobile webs.

Navigation style and links:

Two of the users said they could easily know where they were on the McDonalds website. Another user said the site of Burger King provided useful clues and links for the users to get the desired information. However, all of them noted that it was difficult to move around at the website of Burger King. The animation used on the surface to display the images are very distracting. According to them, it is much easier to move around at McDonald’s website by using the links or back button of the browser. They also think, the links at McDonald’s website are well maintained and updated. Placement of links or menu is standard throughout the website and easily recognizable.

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User Interface Design:

All of the users think that the BK’s website interface design is attractive. All of them were comfortable with the colors used on this website. However, as mentioned earlier, they think that the site contains some features that at times irritated them such as scrolling and looping animations. According to the users, McDonalds’ website has a consistent feel and look. The design of the site makes sense, and it is easy to learn how to use it. Nevertheless, two of the users mentioned that the website of Burger King is much more user-friendly than the site of Wendy’s.

Performance and effectiveness of the Website:

As mentioned above, the users needed to wait too long to open the homepage of Burger King. However, two of the users agreed that the homepage of BK loads faster than the homepage of McDonald’s. It is because of the flash video used by McDonalds on their homepage. Considering the wait time, Wendy’s website is the most effective among three of these sites. However, the users noted that all these websites responded to their actions as expected.

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According to Nielson (2006), “A usable website is user-friendly, easy to read, it is flying (in the literal and metaphoric senses), and it makes users come back.” When users arrive at a website, they should understand how the navigation works, how to act via CTA, where to find any particular section of the site or information they are interested in, and all this is called website usability. Burger King should improve their navigation style to make the site more user-friendly. Also, to improve the overall user-experience BK should refine the animations of their web page. It is recommended to the company to make the homepage crisper, which will eventually make the website more swimmable by the users.

Getting the Most Out of Online Advertising

Advertising on the Site:

Sevenly does not use any third party advertisements on its website. Previously, the team of Sevenly used some ads in their Facebook page. Now that the business is in the growth stage, the company does not allow any kind of paid third party advertisements on any of its social media pages or website. It mostly uses the ads of its own products on the pages of the website.

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However, Sevenly promotes the charity organizations it selects each week to donate on its website. In my opinion, this is one sort of advertisement as well. For instance, this week Sevenly is donating the money it is raising for the charity purpose to an organization called “Autism speaks”. The viewer can see a banner on Sevenly’s website that is promoting the organization Autism Speaks. Although, Sevenly does not receive any payment for promoting such organizations, the ads on the website serves the purpose of advertising for them significantly.

Products:

Sevenly does not have various product lines yet. It mostly offers apparel and accessories for male and female. The main objective of Sevenly is to sell special designed products through its website. The products it sells include t-shirts and some other accessories, i.e. hoodie, T-shirt, wall print, backpack, bottle, etc. In an article titled ‘Sevenly: Wearable and Charitable’ Organic Connections Magazine mentioned, “The T-shirts and many of the different accessories Sevenly sells bear original hand-drawn designs by Sevenly artists, using inspirational and empowering messages.”

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Nonetheless, the artists design the T-shirts based on the particular week’s charity. The products Sevenly offers are made in the USA. The materials are also certified by WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production).

Communications I receive from the Website:

I am probably one of those few people who click the “subscribe” button on the websites willingly. It has been almost one year that I subscribed to the email newsletters of Sevenly. Thus, the only communication that I receive from the Sevenly website is its e-newsletters.

Normally, I get Sevenly’s email newsletters twice a week. The newsletters mostly contain the information about its weekly campaign along with the products it is offering for that particular week. The team of Sevenly put a lot of effort while designing the newsletters. The email newsletters they send are very brief and image-heavy.

Affiliate Program:

Sevenly introduced its affiliate program in 2012. The team of Sevenly said that to drive traffic and generate initial revenue they have run various affiliate marketing program. The first action they used is CPA (Cost per action model). They used some external websites, i.e. Affiliate technology, Popshops, Abestweb, etc., to promote their brand.

Initially, the commission they gave to these affiliates for their assigned job is 15-20% of each sale. Nonetheless, they still uses CPA model to boost their revenue. The click-through affiliate program is being used by Sevenly as well. It pays 15% commission to the external website that has the link that leads to the website of Sevenly. The affiliate receives the amount if a user clicks on the link and enters to Sevenly’s website.

However, Sevenly uses individual affiliates as well. If a blogger is interested to promote Sevenly, he or she can apply for the individual affiliate program. In this program the selected affiliate gets the exclusive T-shirt and accessories for free. In return all they need to do is wear the T-shirts, tweet and write about Sevenly in their blog. There are many bloggers who work as affiliates of Sevenly. They are known as ‘Sevenly educators’ as well.

0000017-women-grab-bagSevenly and an Article about Affiliate Marketing:

To discuss the impact of affiliate marketing on Sevenly, I have chosen an article from the Forbes Magazine titled “4 Myths about Affiliate Marketing You Need to Know” by Steve Olenski. In this article the author mostly talked about four very important traditional myths about affiliate marketing. He revealed that affiliate marketing can open a new revenue avenue for a company without much of the difficulties associated with setting up new marketing programs. Nevertheless, it is very important to understand the true facts related to affiliate marketing to make the correct decisions for the future growth of any business.

The first fact the author talked about is the time requirements for affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing takes a considerable amount of time to show results. It does not bring results immediately after introducing the program. As discussed earlier Sevenly introduced its affiliate program back in 2012. The primary objective of Sevenly’s affiliate program was to drive traffic for its website. To turn that traffic into conversions the team of Sevenly put a lot of effort. First of all, they set up the most efficient partnerships for their business. Then they brought the right partners into their affiliate program. Furthermore, they tend to update the contents of the website regularly.

The second myth the author talked about is the market size and popularity. According to the article most people think that popular niche markets are appropriate for affiliate marketing, which might not be true in many cases. Non-popular niches can be appropriate too, if they are relevant to the business goals of the company. Therefore, the author suggested to follow the goals and mission statement of the company and find affiliates who understand the relevance of working in a new yet potential market. In my opinion, Sevenly explored some niche markets to implement affiliate marketing. It uses individual bloggers and educators to run affiliate programs that are profitable to drive traffic and spreading word of mouth. Nevertheless, the team of Sevenly is determined to explore niche markets to set up new marketing initiatives constantly.

The last two myths the author talked about is the effectiveness and efficiency of affiliate marketing. He mentioned that due to Google’s new algorithms for SEO, link building is becoming outdated that can discourage affiliate activity. However, if this is the case, there are many new ways to use SEO and increase the effectiveness of affiliate marketing. Sevenly should explore new ways to use SEO while building strategy for its affiliate marketing. Nevertheless, success in affiliate marketing comes from getting the product on as many sites as possible. According to a study done by Three Ladders Marketing, the most traffic for affiliates were driven by SEO, 79% and social media, 60%. Although, studies show that affiliate marketing isn’t easy, Sevenly should still focus on the niche markets, focus on a few key affiliates, and create a system that generates performance for both the company itself and the affiliate that can drive profit and conversions for its business.

Making the Best Use of Digital Marketing

In the summer of 2011, two people with noteworthy social media background, Aaron Chavez and Dale Partridge, decided to start a business where they can blend profit and purpose together, by putting people before profit. They came up with a life changing business idea titled Sevenly, which not only represents the number 7, but also the word “heavenly.” In an interview with Mashable, CEO Partridge said, they chose the number seven because Biblically, it represents completeness. Completeness, according to Dale Partridge, means “world without need.” Surprisingly, the name of the company itself explains its business model, which was inspired by social good companies like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker. However, their aim was to create an original business plan. Hence, they chose the number 7 as the base of their ultimate simple business model.

With a slogan of “People Matter,” Sevenly donates $7.00 from each transaction to different causes of charities weekly. Every week, Sevenly announces the causes, it will be donating to, in its website. Sevenly believes their business model is co-profit, thus sustainable. To clarify this model, the team of Sevenly stated, $7.00 per transaction is almost 30% of their income and that is exceptionally high for a for-profit company. They also claimed that their donation rate is so high that the Internal Revenue Service could not place it in the for-profit tax category with the other retail companies. Therefore, their business model is defined as co-profit, where a fixed percentage of their company’s profit goes directly to the nonprofit causes.

As we know, Sevenly is an e-retailer, all the activities of this company are being operated online. It has built some fascinating online cause-marketing strategies that helped the company to grow within a very short span of time. This weekly cause activation platform was first launched on Facebook. In an article of Facebook titled, “How Sevenly Uses Facebook to Profit for Good”, the CEO of Sevenly mentioned that they used Facebook initially to build an audience and grow awareness. He also said that, for a time Facebook generated almost 97% of their site traffic. Now that they are in the growth stage of product life cycle, they use Facebook mainly to drive traffic to their site. Although these days they are introducing new online strategies frequently to expand their market, they are still using Facebook primarily to build awareness and engage with their customers.

However, to take advantage of the power of online and digital platforms fully, Sevenly has been using other online platforms as well, i.e. InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterestLinkedIn, and Google+. The team of Sevenly build and update the contents of these online platforms regularly, based on their weekly chosen causes. According to Stephanie Czupryk, Director of Marketing at Sevenly, “Telling both our cause and design story on platforms like these helps us continue to engage and inspire our audience throughout our weekly campaigns. When you run 52 different campaigns a year, it is important to maintain a fresh perspective in your storytelling of each charity and the designs we develop for them.” Thus, the team of Sevenly is using the feel good principle, the science of storytelling, as a weapon for their business.

In addition to using all the mentioned social networks, Sevenly also uses the most popular online platform YouTube. To increase the word of mouth, the team of Sevenly has been using the YouTube Stars as a consumer engagement strategy for the last three years. In an interview with I AM THE TREND, the CEO of Sevenly revealed, as soon as they learned that YouTube stars have a higher engagement rate than Facebook and Twitter, they made friends with these celebrities and signed them up to be their spoke person.

86d160650785a1069a911a6d5237e09e_largeHowever, Sevenly’s marketing team is always testing new channels that may be a good fit for its brand. As part of their channel exploration, they used the Television media to run a reality show regarding a campaign of Sevenly in 2013. They were also featured in prime time on German Television along with some other national presses. Thus, Sevenly keeps testing and re-testing multichannel to reach its audience.

As an e-retailer, Sevenly has successfully created a very structured way to capture data about their customers. In an interview with I AM THE TREND, CEO Partridge mentioned that, they have a very high repeat buyer percentage. They maintain a complete different database for the repeat buyers. Once a customer signs up for a Sevenly account and buys products from the website, the information automatically goes to their customer database. Customers who tend to purchase more than once are considered as repeat buyers. Sevenly is very strict about collecting and protecting the personal data of their customers. It uses the latest industry-standard SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to protect personal data of the users. Sevenly also utilizes SEO and SEM to drive traffic to their website. If you search for “shop for charity” on Google search engine, Sevenly’s website appears on the first page. Thus, Sevenly is making the most effective use of digital marketing tools to achieve its goals.

Placing the Customers at the Heart of its Success

As discussed in my previous blog posts, Sevenly is a co- profit organization promoting a cause that aims to persuade individuals to get involved in charity through marketing a lifestyle product line. The mission of Sevenly is to activate “cause art” movement worldwide. To achieve this goal the team of Sevenly is determined to build long-term relationship with their clients and partners. Dale Partridge, the CEO of Sevenly, indicated that Sevenly wants to bring all the individual philanthropists of this generation under one umbrella. His team believes together we will be able to create a better world. This idea makes me feel that togetherness has a power in itself. All we need to do is support each other to ensure a better life for everyone.

CRM Program:

As an e-retailer Sevenly has developed a very effective CRM model. According to the team of Sevenly, “At the heart of the organization’s success lays a well-managed customer relationship system.” The aim of the team is to create value for their customers first. The weekly apparel and accessories they offer are based on the suggestions of their customers. Each week the team asks the customers to provide new ideas and recommendations for their next campaign in Sevenly’s social media pages. Moreover, in Sevenly’s website there is an option that can be used to submit someone’s own designs. Thus, Sevenly adopted the customer-centric approach mainly. The company is placing the customer at the center of its business planning and execution.

However, Sevenly uses CRM software significantly to collect all of its customers’ information in a centralized place, which is allowing the company to get a holistic view of the customers. In an article titled, ”How Sevenly CEO Dale Partridge Is Changing the World $7 at a Time,” the CEO of Sevenly, Dale Partridge, indicated that they have a complete separate database for the repeat buyers. The database helps them to identify and serve their existing customers better. Nonetheless, when a customer purchases any product form Sevenly’s website he or she needs to open an account first. The CRM software automatically captures the information, the customer is giving willingly. The aim here is to capture the demographic details on potential leads, current leads and contacts, such as age, gender, income, etc. Also, the system can capture the psychographic data on contacts such as customer values, attitudes, interests, etc. Furthermore, the company tend to keep up-to-date fresh information in its database.

t-7811-5428In addition to traditional CRM system, Sevenly also conducts Social CRM, since social media is the most important channel for the company. The team tends to integrate any new social channel to its existing CRM strategy very efficiently. They also use social media to drive CRM and expand the reach of the company as well. In an article titled, “Sevenly Takes ‘Do Good’ Approach to Building Business”, George Anderson mentioned, “The Company relies upon word of mouth, primarily via social media, to expand its scope.” However, Social CRM enabled the company to use the online reputation management and monitoring tools. Sevenly captures how the customers are interacting on its social pages regularly. The team use the Social CRM tool to rate and sort the perspective of the consumers about their company. This allows them to effectively test the temperature of the online community’s feeling towards the brand, which can then guide any future action.

Customer Service Policies:

n2xzz6-b888119z.120140324062334000g70tdim.10Sevenly has a good customer service. On its website there is a Contact Form that customers can use to submit their queries. Customers can also email directly to the support team. However, I did not find any phone number on its site. Personally, I look for a contact number first when I plan to contact any retailers. I would highly recommend Sevenly to provide at least one number on its website for the customers to call.

Nevertheless, Sevenly recently introduced a new contact option that enables the users to chat with the customer service representatives instantly. In the right hand corner there is chat-bar that says, “How Can We Help You.” Customers need to click on that bar and provide their email address to chat with the customer service representative. In my opinion, the chatting option took the customer service experience for the clients of Sevenly to the next level. Customers are now able to get in touch with the team of Sevenly instantly.

However, Sevenly has an excellent shipping and return policy as well. The team mentioned that they understand ordering online can be difficult. Therefore, if the clothing item doesn’t fit a customer, he or she can send it back to Sevenly within 60 days of purchase. If the team has the right size available, it sends it to the customer at no additional cost. If they do not have the size available, they give the full amount back in store credit minus the $7 donation associated with the order. As the $7 is already been donated, they can’t give that back to the customers.

Website Navigation and Website usability:

Website navigation is a crucial part of any website and its design should not be taken lightly. In an article titled, “Best Practices for Modern Website Navigation” the author, Chad Johnson, mentioned, “Website navigation is the portal to important content and it can drastically increase (or decrease) site click-through rate.” He also emphasized on effective site navigation, which depends on almost all of the design disciplines involved in web design including information architecture, user experience design, visual design and front-end development.

After reviewing Sevenly’s website for navigation, I would like to say that the site can improve its navigation style. Although the names of the categories are clear, they are not mutually exclusive. The category “new arrivals” can be divided into two sub-categories – men and women. Most of the consumers prefer to take a look on new arrivals. So, categorizing this section will help the customers save time while browsing. Also, the site should have subcategories to improve the customers’ shopping experience. In the subcategories, they could include the types of products they offer, i.e., t-shirt, hoodies, jackets, etc.

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However, the navigation style of Sevenly enables the users to find out the important information easily. The essential content, such as, weekly cause, exclusive collections, blogs, etc., are placed in chronological order on the landing page. This style helps the users to scan and skim the website very quickly. Nevertheless, Sevenly recently introduced its responsive website, which adapts and fits to all screen sizes including tablets and mobile phones. In my opinion, the new responsive site will help the company to increase the site’s click-through rate significantly.

To talk about some best practices for improving website usability that Sevenly can use to enhance the usability and readability of its website’s content, I have chosen an article titled “7 Best Practices for Improving Your Website’s Usability” by Jacob Gube. The tips he provided in articles are based on research findings and suggestions by well-regarded usability experts such as Jakob Nielsen.

According to the author, “Web pages must be designed to facilitate the ease of reading content through the effective use of colorstypography, spacing, etc.” The content writer must be aware of writing strategies that enable readers to quickly identify, read and internalize information. The author suggested that the content of a website should be easy to understand and skimmable. As discussed earlier, the navigation style of Sevenly’s website enables the users to scan and skim the content easily. The design, however, is a bit clumsy and complex. To improve the usability of the website Sevenly can put the blog link in the category section.

However, the article also suggested that the design of a website should support the users to do “block reading”. This means, breaking up long articles into sections so that users can easily skim down the page. An eye-tracking study conducted by Nielsen revealed an eye-movement pattern that could further support this idea that web users do indeed read in chunks. People swipe their eyes from left to right, then continue on down the page in an F-shaped pattern, skipping a lot of text in between. In my opinion, Sevenly does a very good job in designing its blog posts. The blog posts contain simple and concise headings that help the user to scan the page quickly. Nevertheless, to improve the usability of the website Sevenly used the “inverted pyramid” style to place important information at the top of its articles. The site also has meaningful visuals that support the texts. Overall, Sevenly has a good website. Improving some of its designs will enhance the usability of Sevenly’s website for the users significantly.

Customer-Facing Business:

Customer facing business explains hardware, software or technology with user interfaces (UI) or applications that directly interact with customers. However, a customer facing system is more than an interface. It should add value to relationships with customers and is often used as a tool for customer analytics. In an article titled “Customer-Facing Vs. Business-Facing” the author, Bert Markgraf, mentioned, “Customer service is a key customer-facing function that is critical to a company’s success. Depending on the business, companies can impose tight scripts with scenarios and detailed desired responses or they can empower employees to decide how to best satisfy the particular customer.” In either cases, the purpose of the customer-facing aspect of the service function is to produce satisfied customers.

In my opinion, Sevenly does not have a comprehensive customer-facing system yet. As mentioned above, the company does not have any established customer center as well. Nonetheless, Sevenly uses the customer-facing system in a different way. Customers are exposed to the business and production model of the company. As a cause-oriented e-retailer Sevenly makes sure that its customers are well aware of the causes it is donating to. Thus, transparency helps the company to maintain its customer-facing business.

Sending Something worth Having to Your Inbox

My Story of Getting into the World of Sevenly:

Unlike most people, I do not mind receiving myriad of email newsletters from the companies or the organizations that I have subscribed to. This is perhaps because I like to know what’s happening in the world I feel I belong to. However, not all the companies send emails worth having all the time. Among those companies, who send emails worth reading, Sevenly is one of my favorite.

There is one mantra which has always inspired me. Mahatma Gandhi said “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Yes, I believe that if everyone tries to change what they think is necessary to make the world a better place, someday our dream world will come to fruition. Although, I am studying marketing and communication, my primary focus is not learning the marketing strategies only to increase revenue for a company. I believe marketers are the ones who can make positive contribution to the world, by just spreading awareness about a cause of change and uniting people to make that change together. Nonetheless, after observing the continuous evolution of profit-oriented capitalism, I started thinking probably I am just a big dreamer. I also thought that it is quite difficult to blend cause and profit together, until I came to know about Sevenly. The importance to have the email newsletters of Sevenly lays there. If you are one of them, who wants to see what positive changes are happening in the world and also would like to contribute to them, then you must subscribe to Sevenly for their email newsletters.

It has been more than one year that I subscribed for Sevenly’s email newsletters. I went to the website and put my email address in the “Subscribe for offers and update” section. The site immediately sent a confirmation email in my email address. I had to confirm my subscription and also to give them permission to send me email newsletters. After clicking the confirmation link, I received the first email titled, “Let’s change the world together.” This probably was a simple welcome email, but it gave me a sense of belonging to the world of Sevenly. In my opinion, that is the beauty and uniqueness of the newsletters of this company. I personally find their emails very inspiring and positive. The newsletters mostly contain fresh pictures that are relevant to its weekly causes and campaigns. The team of Sevenly mentioned in their blog titled, “6 Social Media Marketing Tips By Sevenly”, that they focus on building image-heavy contents when communicating with the customers via email. However, I normally receive email newsletters of Sevenly twice a week. The email newsletters inform the subscribers about the chosen weekly cause of Sevenly. The newsletters also contain the pictures of their weekly product collection for that particular campaign.

The first thing I do when I start my day is check emails, while drinking a cup of warm tea. Ever since I started living alone, I discovered getting emails with personal touches make us feel adequate. I also believe, it is very important to start your day with positive feelings. I really like how the email newsletters I receive from Sevenly put a smile on my face in the morning. For instance, today I received an email from Sevenly that stated, this week the organization will give the donation to the female burn-survivors to help restore the self-image of adolescent girls suffering from burn/trauma injuries. Sevenly is raising both capital and awareness for these survivors. Being a woman myself, I can totally understand how this cause might change so many lives.

The Email:

Screenshot (40)In my opinion Sevenly does a very good job at designing their email newsletters. The team of Sevenly put a lot of effort while designing the newsletter. Usually, the emails they send are very brief and image-heavy. Most of the newsletters do not include any details about the campaign.

However, the email newsletters they send do not emphasize on sharing further. I designed a newsletter for Sevenly concentrating on sharing specifically. The subject of the newsletter  will be “Let’s fight the down syndrome together.” I believe, the phrase “lets do together” has a unique power to entice people to share it with their friends.

The newsletter shown in this blog has a call-to-action button that says “share now”. Customers will be able to share the campaign upon opening the email by clicking on that button. Thus, the campaign will be able to use the power of word of mouth. As we know pass-on rate indicates the effectiveness of email marketing, this strategy will help us to measure the result easily.

The newsletter also have two other CTAs, one is “shop to support” and the other one is “Shop for cause.” The objective of these two CTAs is to convince the viewer to make at least one transaction to support the cause.

Nevertheless, in the header section I tried to focus on the phrase “limited edition charity collection” followed by some pictures of that particular collection. This will help to gain initial attention from the viewers about the weekly campaign and its theme.

The Plan to obtain a list of Contacts:

Before designing an email newsletter it is very important to make a plan to obtain a list of contacts, to send the email to. Sevenly already has a database of the people who want to hear from them. As mentioned earlier, Sevenly uses the opt-in method to receive permission from the users. If you shop at Sevenly.org, you will be automatically subscribed to its email newsletters. The site will ask for your permission if you want to receive exclusive news and updates about Sevenly. If you do not check that box, they will not send you email newsletters. In my opinion, this is a very good practice.

In the article Ask Before You Blast – The Importance of Permission by MailChimp (2014), it has been stated that Opt-in method helps to identify the customers, who want to be added to the subscribers list. Sevenly also uses double opt-in method, which is giving confirmation by clicking a link in the email, to make sure the user is willing to subscribe for their newsletters. Nevertheless, I would like to have an automated process built in the site, by which I am able to add the confirmed subscribers to a complete database that will include the full name, gender, state, mobile number, and address of them.

However, the site of Sevenly does not give the option to sign up via social media accounts, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. In the article 10 Reasons Social Logins Could Be a Game Changer Vertical Response (2014) explained that social login could be very effective for the companies to collect data of the enthusiastic visitors. Therefore, I would like to recommend Sevenly to enable social log in sign up, so that we can collect the contacts directly from their social accounts.

The Plan to Measure the Results:

To measure the performance of the email campaign, I have made a comprehensive plan. At first I would like to count the number of emails that are delivered. However, in the article titled “Email Deliverability: Inbox Deliverability Rate Numbers and Their Meaning” the author, Kevin Gao, said that email deliverability rate is the number of emails that we sent that were successfully delivered to recipients. It is not a reflection of whether the email went into the spam or junk folder of the recipient. As long as the email is delivered, it is counted as a positive delivery no matter what folder it is placed in by the email service provider. Thus, it is very important to measure the number of emails that have been bounced. When an email is rejected by a subscriber’s email server, it’s called bounce. In this case it will be appropriate to measure both hard and soft bounces since it will tell us if the email is rejected permanently or temporarily by the server. It is also very important to know how many emails were actually opened. Finally, the pass-on rate and the click-through rate will give us the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of the email newsletter. The pass-on rate tells us if the recipient finds the newsletter effective enough to share it with his friends and family by forwarding it. According to Ayaz Nanji, “Click-through rate (CTR) was defined as the percentage of delivered email messages that drew at least one click.” CTR is a very effective tool to measure the results of email newsletters as it reveals which content or promotion was most enticing to the customers. I would like to use Click-through rate primarily to measure the performance of this email campaign. Nonetheless, I have decided to use MailChimp to calculate the CTR rate for this particular email newsletter.

The Article:

Before planning the email newsletter for Sevenly, I tried to do a short internet research on the best practices of designing email newsletters. I came across an article of Entrepreneur magazine titled, “13 Ways to Get Your Emails Noticed and Opened” by Al Lautenslager. I found this article very helpful, as it explains what could be done to be successful in email marketing campaign. According to the author, the email message should be positive, and the subject line should be short and sweet. Although, the email messages of Sevenly are mostly positive but the subject line and the headers they use are a bit lengthy sometimes. Moreover, the article indicates that the timing for sending the emails could be crucial. It is very important to know what is the best time to send the email newsletters. Sevenly should check the email analytics or test different days and times to see how timing affects the open rates of the emails. The articles also talked about the words that should not be used in the subject line. The emails that contain some particular words and phrases, i.e. free, percent-off, please, help, etc., are considered as spam or pitchy. Sevenly should keep these words in mind while choosing the email subject lines. Nevertheless, according to Lautenslager (2014) requesting for donation or charity directly is also a bad practice for writing email newsletters. Therefore, Sevenly has to be very careful while writing the texts for the newsletters, as some of the emails from this company persuade the viewers to contribute in the charity. Shop for cause/charity is more appropriate for Sevenly to use in their newsletters.

Creating Synergy!

Advertisements can be much more effective in delivering the core message if both verbal and visual designs can be combined together in an effective way. The ads that will be analyzed in this week’s blog post will be the ones that include both a verbal message and a visual design to create synergy. The ads below are the ones that would not be nearly the same without both verbal and visual components. Creating a relationship between words and pictures is the key to creating synergy, which can lead to a total effect greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Wendy’s:

6a00d8341bf89d53ef00e54f1878b38834-500wiThe designer of this ad used contrast colors in the overall design of this ad. The contrast colors of the different dishes made it look more vibrant. Wendy’s is communicating to the viewers that they are offering foods that do not cause obesity. The target audience of this ad was the health-conscious adults. The message was to let them know if they eat healthy they will not need to spend money on personal trainers. However, the images and the typography created a beautiful synergy in this ad. The message is clear by the texts and it was complemented by the images. Also, the ad only put emphasis on one idea, which is their healthy meal options. It is recommended to put emphasis on one idea per ad, as it helps to bring maximum attention of the viewers to that one particular idea (Felton, 2013).

Burger King started offering healthy meals from 2012. The company also realized that the target customers are becoming health conscious day by day. Therefore, they decided to introduce new menus for the ones who prefer to eat healthy. However, Burger King could not promote their healthy meal option as effectively as Wendy’s did.

McDonald’s

mcdonalds-advertising1In this ad, McDonald’s tried to engage the viewers in the verbal message by using a visual design, which is a bit ambiguous. This is typically an effective strategy, as it leaves the viewer curious and wanting more. The pictures of the left out fries induces the curiously of a viewer. However, when the viewer reads the headline they understand what the ad is all about. Felton explains that one effective strategy is to “let the consumer do some of the work” and use their own intelligence to figure out what the ad is saying (Felton, 2013).

Carl’s Jr:

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The visual design of this Carl’s Jr. ad is likely what sticks out most to viewers, but the message that goes along with it creates synergy and enhances the total effect of the ad. If a viewer looks at the attractive image of the burger he or she will be curious to know about the product. The headline explains the underneath message of this appealing image. The designer used opposition strategy to bring humor in this ad.

Arby’s

arbys-chicken-naturals-range-swimsuit-issue-small-87890arbys1Personally, I found these ads hilarious, yet effective. The images of the chickens and the typography creates a very effective synergy. The target market for this ad was the ones who look for authentic food. This ad clearly tells the viewer how authentic is the burgers of Arby’s. Adding humor in an ad effectively makes the ad more appealing. The ad from the left used an effective quotation as well to deliver the main message.

KFC:

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KFC did a very good job in creating synergy for this ad. Combining overstatement and understatement is an effective strategy, and using a wild visual with a verbal message that doesn’t shout can create synergy (Felton, 2013). The image of the leg complements the texts of the ad very effectively.

Picture Perfect Ads!

It is image that attracts the viewers most, and that’s especially true on the Internet where the shift to visual optimization is playing an increasingly important role in the recent phenomenon of photo marketing (Felton, 2013). According to a research of 3M Corp (2014), “The human brain processes visual images 60,000 times faster than text.” Therefore, it has become mandatory for the advertising professionals to  build image-based solutions for their campaigns. However, this week’s blog post will focus on the ads that are completely image-driven.

McDonalds Chicken Burger:

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This print ad of McDonalds beautifully achieved its goal by using an image only. The designer put an image of a chicken wrapped up by McDonalds packaging. This ad was released to promote their new line of products, which is chicken burger. However, this ad was a part of McDonalds’ authenticity of the sources ad campaign. The designer used ‘fact’ strategy in this ad by using the figure of a chicken (Felton, 2013). The image clearly indicates that McDonalds is trying to promote its chicken burger. Also, the designer used contrast colors to put emphasis on the main content of the ad. The contrast colors white and orange made a perfect visual hierarchy as well.

McDonlads is the direct competitor of Burger King. Both of the brands target the same market segment that is young adults. Burger King also offers chicken sandwich that is made of white chicken. Also, Burger King was the first major fast food chain to introduce grilled chicken sandwich. They also launched a campaign named “cheat on beef” to promote their chicken burgers.

KFC Burger:

KFC_Case_ZingerPieBannerThe ad here was released by KFC to promote their Zinger burger. The advertisements of KFC often encourages group-eating. This ad also encourages a viewer to eat in group. This image-based ad depicts the ‘happy-feeling’ among a crowd. The designer used ‘visual metaphor’ strategy in this ad very effectively. However, the metaphor used in this ad is not a pure one. The designer used fused metaphor in this ad. Felton (2013) explained, “Unlike pure metaphor, fused images help contextualize the selling argument, viewers don’t have to leap quite as far when part of what they’re looking at is what’s for sale.” The ad effectively established a situation that portrays the core selling argument of the product which is group-eating.

KFC is another major competitor of Burger King. As mentioned above, a very important product line of Burger King is their chicken sandwich, which competes with the zinger burger of KFC.

Domino’s Pizza Christmas Ad:

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Although, Dominos does not compete with Burger King directly, it can still be considered as a competitor of BK. Dominos target the same market segment as Burger King, which is the young adult segment. Both of the companies are included in the American Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry.

The ad here was released by Domino’s Pizza during the Christmas holiday time. The image used in the ad clearly delivers the core message of the ad. The designer placed a slice of pizza in a way that it looks like a Christmas tree. He used fused metaphor very efficiently in this ad (Felton, 2013). Domino’s Pizza effectively achieved their holiday campaign’s goal by using the Christmas tree as a metaphor of their product during the holiday time.

Pizza Hut

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The ad here was released by Pizza Hut to promote their New-Yorker pizza. The designer designed the upper side of a pizza in a way that it looks like the skyline of New York city. This one is a very good example of image-driven ad. The image itself is self-explanatory and the viewers will immediately understand what this ad is all about right after viewing it. In my opinion, the designer used a combination of ‘two-fer’ and ‘visual metaphor’ strategies. The metaphor used here is the ‘skyline’ that consists of the important buildings of New York. Since the design created a surprising connection between two dissimilar things to deliver the core message, the strategy can also be called two-fer (Felton, 2013).

Pizza hut is not a direct competitor of Burger King either. The products these brands offer are different. However, the target markets of these brands are same. BK and Pizza Hut targets the young adults who prefer to eat out on a regular basis. Both the companies are fast food chains and offer quick services.

Domino’s On The Go Ads:

55240_Dominos parkAnother brilliant image-based campaign created by Domino’s Pizza was their ‘on the go’ campaign, which was launched to promote their mobile app. Two of these ads are beautifully designed to deliver the main message of the campaign. 55241_Dominos streetThe designer placed some pizza slices in two of the crowded points of a city that are park and street. He used ‘fact’ strategy in this ad by showing how customers can place their order on the go (Felton, 2013). The images used in the ads are very eye-catching as well. However, what made the ads more effective is the contrast colors the designer used to put highest emphasis on the pizza slices. It is apparent that the contrast colors made it possible for the slices to stand out in the ads.

As mentioned earlier, Domino’s Pizza is an indirect competitor of Burger King. The core product of Domino’s is pizza, whereas the core product of BK is burgers. However, both the brands compete in the international market of fast food industry. They both operate their business locally and internationally.

Creating a World Without Need Using Digital Marketing

It was March 2013, one article from Forbes grabbed my attention.  The article was about how a two years old cause-oriented e-retailer, Sevenly, is growing its business, by only using social media and all other digital tools effectively. The article titled, How Sevenly CEO Dale Partridge Is Changing the World $7 at a Time, mainly focused on the aim of the CEO of Sevenly, Dale Partridge, which is to move a generation towards generosity.

I immediately did a short internet research to learn more about this company and discovered some of Sevenly’s striking marketing strategies. It is basically a lifestyle product line that simultaneously serves as the vehicle to solve world problems. Sevenly’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+, require continuous attention to accommodate their changing charities. With the motto “people matter”, Sevenly tends to contribute 7% per transaction to a cause, chosen weekly on their site, to combat world’s one problem at a time.

Ever since I came to know that Sevenly highly utilizes the digital platform to change thousands lives with the right combination of purpose and profit, 7422241026_197dd89c92_zI have become a huge fan of this company. For the next six weeks, I will be following and writing about the digital marketing strategies of Sevenly that have been intriguing me for the past year.

To give it an overview, I would like to mention that in March 2014, Mashable announced Sevenly as the winner of America’s Most Social Small Business. According to Mashable, “The competition was about how the companies utilize social media to get their brand message across, and it’s clear that a brand with as inspirational a mantra and purpose as Sevenly’s resonates well with the online community. Yes, Sevenly is trying to sell clothes; but ultimately, its larger aim is to change the world, and social media helps to makes this lofty goal possible”.

I believe that I will be able to learn the secret behind the success story of Sevenly throughout the next six weeks. My objective is to learn how Sevenly is testing and choosing the right channel in digital media, the secret to drive traffic to their website, different tactics that they use to encourage social interaction, and all other digital marketing strategies they apply to raise social awareness while simultaneously raising brand awareness for the Sevenly brand itself.