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.

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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.

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.