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In this story, I’m seemingly the criminal. My crime? Choosing to buy an imported phone from an established international online retailer. Let’s take a look at what happened to me, what’s happened to some other people, and what you can do to protect yourself from experiencing this situation in the future.

Requiem for a Nightmare

The Nightmare started off but a Dream (of a swift refund)

I was promptly provided with the company’s DHL account and told I would need to contact the carrier to arrange pick up. There would be no charge to me for this return shipping. Wonderful. Everything seemed smooth and painless, all the more so when DHL came on January 13th and was so kind as to fill out the paperwork themselves. When I checked the package status just a couple of days later, I noticed that it has already been delivered. Fantastic.

I notified Expansys and was told the package was received and that the defect would be checked. I was also asked to provide my bank account information for the pending refund.

The Real Problem Begins

About a week passed with no contact regarding the status of my refund. I finally send an email, but receive no response. A few days and several more emails later, a reply is finally received by the end of January. In the email, they state the inspection process is going to take a while because “we’re very busy”. I had asked repeatedly who would be checking the product: Expansys or Samsung? If the product had to be returned to Samsung, obviously I could understand the longer wait. No answer was given.

About a week passed with no contact regarding the status of my refund. I finally send an email, but receive no response.

Fast forward to February 5th. Expansys replied to an angry message I had sent inquiring as to the status of my refund. At this point, almost a month had past and I was getting more irritated with each passing day. The reply indicated the defect had been confirmed and a refund would be provided. Days pass, and I then send another email asking where my money is. On February 13th, I received a single reply indicating there was some kind of “trouble” with the refund but it was sent finally, on the 13th.

A rare reply from Expansys that contained a bit more than the usual “please wait” type content.

I wait. On February 17th the money had still not appeared in my bank account and so I call my financial institution to investigate. Late in the afternoon, I received a call from my bank with some extremely infuriating news: it had the money, but due to an error, the money could not be deposited to me. Instead of sending the money to my name, Expansys had used my bank branch’s name as the recipient. I was told the money could not be deposited into my account until the sender corrected the mistake.

I contact Expansys informing them of the problem, and in the process, discover the wiring error was my fault. Back when I provided my bank details in January, I had mistakenly specified the wrong name due to misreading the Kanji (Chinese characters). This issue is totally of my own creation, and therefore technically Expansys only took a month to refund the money.

Unfortunately, what should have been a simple fix turned into another month of waiting.

More Waiting

I provided Expansys with my correct bank information. Days pass, finally a reply arrives. I’m told that they have contacted their bank (HSBC) and that I need to pay a fee due to bank charges which amounts to about $30. Of this I had no objections whatsoever, given the fault was entirely mine. I was told that a separate e-mail will be sent to me with an invoice. Apparently the billing comes from the UK office. Days pass, no Paypal invoice. I contact them again and finally an invoice is sent on Friday, February 27th. I pay it immediately and then send another message to Expansys indicating it’s been paid. I am told that they will contact the UK office and notify them.

Days pass again, more e-mails are sent asking what’s going on.

Days pass again, more e-mails are sent asking what’s going on. The last reply I received in regards to this matter was Expansys indicating that it was proceeding via the “guidance of HSBC” and therefore any additional expenses related to the error will be covered by Expansys. Finally, on March 11th, I checked my bank account and the money was there. Expansys did not, and has not, actually sent me any message to confirm the wiring completion thus my discovery of said funds was a totally random surprise.

Analysis

I gave Expansys multiple chances to explain what was going on, but they never bothered to. In the end, I was never worried that Expansys was going to “steal” my money, as I had used them many times in the past and felt assured they were a legitimate organization. I did however, abandon any hope of receiving prompt customer service, explanations of what was going on, or seeing my refund in any semblance of a timely manner.

Not surprisingly, a quick Google search reveals that it’s not just Expansys Japan that has problems, but rather the company on-the-whole. Here are a few customer testimonies from elsewhere in the world. A 2012 complaint from UK-based Overclockers:

What to take away from this story (i.e. 10 DOs and DON’Ts)

2. DO use online payment services like PayPal. They offer significantly higher customer protection in the event of fraud and such. Much like credit cards, they often have a window-period in which you can file claim.

5. DO use tracking when returning the item(s). Depending on the store’s return policy, it may-or-may-not pay for the return shipping. Regardless, make sure to include tracking when sending back your purchase, even if it means paying out of pocket. The charge is usually just a few dollars more, but when it comes to disputes, having the ability to confirm the store received the parcel and having proof to offer a credit card company is essential.

6. DON’T buy from a store just because it’s the cheapest. Often times there are reasons why an item might cost so much less than at competing retailers or vendors, though it might not be obvious at first. Perhaps the store has only two people working for it, and it can afford to sell the products for less money simply because it doesn’t have to pay a full team of staff. Maybe the items are refurbished.

7. DO read the after-service details before placing your order. This is extremely important. Does the store have a return policy? Will it accept items that have been opened? Do you need to send it back within 24-hours of receipt, or is there a 30-day window?

Services like PayPal might actually be better than you think when buying products online, or overseas.

8. DO try to find the item locally if possible. This goes back to the pricing issue: if a local store has a product for $200, and an online store has it for $180, consider if it’s really worth the potential trouble to save $20. If the online store is say, Amazon, and the item is shipping from Amazon (not a third party seller) then it’s a safe bet. On the other hand, if the store is located overseas, you might end up paying $20 or more in import taxes and wind up with a major problem in-hand should the product itself be defective or incorrect. Finding the item locally also allows you to physically inspect it before purchase (when possible) and makes returns or exchanges much easier.

9. DON’T misread the small print. I see endless amounts of posts about “Amazon is now selling product X”, yet when I actually check the link, it’s some Marketplace Seller offering the item which makes the scenario about as legitimate as selecting Buy It Now on eBay. If you are buying from a hypermarket, confirm where it’s shipping from. If the Marketplace Seller’s order will be fulfilled by Amazon, then you’re golden for Amazon’s internal return policy applies.

10. DO consider waiting. I know how many of you want to be the first to have something (heck, I am that way as well). If a new product has gone on sale overseas, and will hit your market in a few weeks, just consider waiting. The more local and contained a situation can be controlled, the lower your own danger and risk will be.

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A New Web Customer Feedback Service

Our interview with Brent Coker, creator of Webreep

Of course, most web analytics tools like Google Analytics are great at telling you what customers are doing, but not so great at telling you why they are doing it and what their motivations and feelings are. Thats’s why I’ve always been keen to share the different types of online customer feedback service available.

I was recently alerted to a new tool by Brent Coker which I think adds to tools which help the “Not What, but Why?” question. It’s an interesting tool for me since it’s based on academic research dating back to 2004, yet is a practical real world tool with benchmarking capabilities. The tool is Webreep

Why web customer feedback is gold!

Before we go into the interview, here’s Brent’s views on why Customer feedback is Gold, but like gold, hard to get your hands on.

Brent’s puts it this way: “Without customer feedback it you’re basically guessing what customers want. Customers might complain if they’re really angry, but they are not the people you want to try to make money from.

What you really want is to do is work on pleasing your existing customer base, and identifying those who are experiencing dissatisfaction before they defect to a competitor.

The problem is less than 6% of dissatisfied customers will tell you they are dissatisfied! They only say something if they’re already angry, then it’s too late. But if you ask a dissatisfied customer how their experience with you was, and how you can improve, 95% will tell you. The secret is, you have to ask.

Webreep works like a chef in a restaurant, coming out of the kitchen to ask diners how they enjoyed their meal! Except it works for any type of business;).

What is Webreep?

Q. 1. Please explain the category of marketing tools Webreep belongs to and how they can help marketers?

Webreep is a customer feedback tool* for websites. It belongs in the web analytics category.

Webreep helps Marketers by identifying exactly what is causing (dis)satisfaction, customer loyalty, and intentions to refer others to the website.

It also tells website owners how strongly key factors are affecting these outcomes, and compares each key factor to industry benchmarks. This information is invaluable for guiding business growth strategy. You have to know what business growth likes to eat, and in what quantities, before you can feed it. Webreep tells website owners exactly what they need to do to feed online business growth.

How does this save you money? It’s five times cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to lose them and have to find replacements.

Unique features of Webreep

Q2. What makes Webreep different from similar tools?

The two main differences are Webreep Industry Averages and The Webreep Model.

The Webreep Model came about from my PhD thesis which I started in 2004. At that time I was looking for a reliable way to measure and predict satisfaction, loyalty, and likelihood of referral. I believed these three constructs were key to growing a successful business online.

The concept is simple: If you are satisfied (delighted) with your experience, you are likely to return next time (loyalty), and also tell your friends and family (referral).

This means more money and more customers for the business owner. Comparatively, new customer acquisition is very expensive.

It’s far cheaper, and makes more sense, to focus efforts on getting existing customers to spend more and refer others. Back then, no-one had really worked out how to directly influence these constructs online.

The Webreep model was designed to do just that. Webreep tells you exactly what is affecting satisfaction, loyalty, and likelihood of referral, and what you need to do to increase them.

The second main difference is Webreep Industry Averages. I developed an algorithm that allows you to compare key areas of your site that influence satisfaction to all other websites in the same business category. You can see what your industry average is for things like content quality or website attractiveness, and then compare how your website squares up in comparison. Pretty neat;)

How can Webreep improve website results

Q3. At chúng tôi we’re interested in how to use tools to drive change, to improve results. Could you give us some examples of how Webreep does this?

Being an academic I’m a great believer in market sensing. That is, shaping your offerings to perfectly match your customers’ needs and tastes. Webreep enables website owners to sense and respond to the market by using a set of interrelated constructs called the “Webreep Model”, and an open ended feedback form.

Without market sensing you’re basically guessing what your customers want, which is inefficient and may even backfire and create dissatisfaction. To use an analogy, imagine you really feel like eating a bowl of clam chowder with sour dough rolls for lunch. You walk into a restaurant, and without saying a word they bring out the best clam chowder and sourdough you’ve ever had.

They knew exactly how you liked it, and they knew you liked it before you said anything. They have delighted you to a point of strong satisfaction.

As a result chances are you’ll come back again and again. Better yet, you’ll tell all your friends and relatives to go there. Before you can satisfy your customers to this degree, you have to know exactly what it is that is influencing their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction if your aim is to stop defection to competitors). Webreep tells you exactly what is influencing satisfaction, how strongly, and what you need to do to improve it.

The Webreep model

Q4. Webreep is based on a model developed by you at the University of Melbourne. Can you tell us the basis of the model please?

The Webreep Model was born from my PhD thesis in 2004. The internet was still recovering from the dot-com bubble four years earlier, and everyone was trying to find a way to predict purchase intent.

The Webreep model consists of four main constructs that directly influence satisfaction, referral, and loyalty. Each construct is comprised of seven facets that comprise each construct. The construct categories include: Navigation, Content, Performance, and Trust. Webreep basically aggregates data on each dimension, and does a statistical technique called multiple regression to show you how strongly each facet is affecting satisfaction, loyalty, and referral likelihood. Then all you need to do is tweak the offending categories for improvement. Rinse, repeat, and watch revenues grow.

Common causes of dissatisfaction

5. Are you able to see any common issues reported by survey respondents? What do these show about how companies can “up their game”?

According to the Webreep Industry Averages, ability to locate relevant information quickly appears to be the biggest area causing dissatisfaction on the web right now. This is across the board, not necessarily tied to a specific industry.

This tells us two things. First, being able to locate information quickly has become the number one issue amongst consumers. Second, websites in general are doing a poor job of making relevant information easy to find. When you look at the way we organise search in the offline world, this trend makes more sense.

When we’re in a department store for example, we don’t have to walk room to room looking for what we want, everything is more or less in one large room. We look for the menswear sign, head in that direction, then ask floor staff where the ties are.

In contrast, traditional websites group information in many “rooms” (pages), so unless we have a very good map, or someone to ask on the spot, we get frustrated. Some websites are even trying to copy the offline experience by enabling consumers to pull up bits of relevant information without leaving the page, to sort of emulate the department store experience. Gap for example have been quite sicessful at this. Those websites that have superior access to information tend to have much higher loyalty rates and word of mouth recommendations.

The second interesting trend we have observed is that trust is becoming less of an influence. Trust was traditionally the number one issue consumers had when giving or payment credentials or personal information about themselves, but it seems now it is becoming less of an issue. The reason why consumers are becoming more trusting is that website designs on the whole are improving with the widespread availability and maturity of CMS systems like Drupal and Joomla. Our research also tells us site design has a subconscious effect on trust. Webreep supports our findings here.

The implications for website owners is however not as good as what we would expect. Because consumers are more trusting, they are more willing to try new websites, which means that on the whole online consumers are becoming less loyal. Our data in fact supports this trend towards lower loyalty across the board. In the past consumers tended to stick to websites already known to them in order to eliminate metal anguish from supplying payment and personal information to a new source. Nowadays it seems consumers are venturing out more, and trying new websites.

The antidote of defection to another website is of course satisfaction. The implications for Marketers here is that they need to really focus on the key drivers of satisfaction such as ease of search, content relevancy, and site attractiveness in order to reduce customer defection to competitor websites. Webreep is designed to help Marketers do just that.

How To Choose Web Hosting Service: Customer Reviews

Your website hosting service choice is crucial: it’s the foundation of your website success. A web host delivers your web site to the world. In case you make a bad choice, you risk getting into trouble:

Uptime: Apart from obvious damage to your website performance, frequent crashes often negatively affect SEO. Google won’t rank your website high if it is often unavailable or down (see tip #2 in the list of the ways of increasing Google crawl rate);

Now, there are plenty of web hosting services available and here’s a basic checklist I often turn to when choosing one for myself or my client:

My project budget (how much money am I able to spend on web hosting?);

Service reputation (I perform a few Google searches to check what people say about the service provider);

Basic features (no more than I need for the future project, some extra features I will never need won’t encourage me to choose one particular service provider);

(Very important) 24/7 customer support (I usually contact them prior to subscribing with a few basic (stupid?) questions to see how responsive and helpful they are).

To decide whether one particular service provider is compliant to my very basic requirement listed above, I usually turn to customer reviews. To properly search for “real” customer testimonials, I usually use the following tricks:

1. Google “Reviews”, “Forums” and Date Search

2. Hosting Comparing Services

There are a few helpful services that let you compare various services and packages as well as look through user reviews. chúng tôi is one of those: it compares web hosting services in multiple categories (free web hosting, dedicated server hosting, vps hosting … etc) in a handy table containing:

Web hosting provider;

Basic features (space, traffic, price);

Bonus features;

Reviews rating.

3. Twitter Search

One cool hack that I often use to find negative reviews on Twitter is 🙁 search. Just add it to the search query and you will have the list of dissatisfied customers tweeting about their poor experience:

And how do you decide if the hosting provider is worth a try?

What Are Essential Customer Service Skills?

Excellent customer service is the pinnacle of a company. It appears to have the power to unveil all the secrets of success once you have it. Providing faultless service, on the other hand, is not always straightforward.

While the pursuit of excellent customer service skills and competencies is a more contemporary undertaking, many CEOs believe it is as elusive as the mythical grail that inspired the Crusades.

Despite the number of customer service skill assessment surveys you send out, most of the customer attitudes will remain a mystery. Thankfully, researchers have been collecting data on customer service satisfaction for years. However, unlike the quest for the Holy Grail, the search for excellent customer service starts with the personnel you hire.

What is customer service?

Customer service is defined as providing support to both new and existing customers. Client service employees often answer customer concerns via call, mail, chatting, and engagements and they might be in charge of creating self-service support materials.

Organizations can also define customer service according to their values and the type of help they intend to deliver. For example, at Help Scout, customer service is described as providing prompt, empathic assistance while keeping the requirements of consumers at the center of every engagement.

Essential Customer Service Skills?

Following are the customer service skills CRM personnel should possess −

Skills in Persuasive Speaking − Consider your company’s most persuasive speaker. Is it a salesperson or a saleswoman? The answer is almost certainly yes. Persuasion has long been regarded as an essential sales skill, but it may also benefit customer service. Your sales reps transform issues into solutions and sceptics into brand champions every day. Do you feel they don’t need to be persuaded to do the task?

Interestingly, 74 % claim they’ve spent close to 14 percent extra with a company because of good service. That is how powerful it is. As a result, ensure that your sales associates can speak confidently, stay upbeat, and deliver the types of compelling arguments that result in conversions.

Patience − Customer service personnel must be extremely patient. Customers that call customer service are frequently bewildered and annoyed. Listening to customers and addressing them with patience will make them feel as if you are committed to solving their concerns.

It’s not enough to complete client contacts as rapidly as possible. Your team must be willing to fully listen to and comprehend each customer’s issues and requirements.

Customers and coworkers should be asked for direct input − If your boss permits it, ask customers for feedback on your service. This could help you figure out if you’re providing a positive experience for your customers daily. Negative feedback should not be taken personally. Even if it isn’t positive, every consumer feedback is valuable.

Empathy − No set of excellent customer service skills is complete without empathy. Empathy is the capacity to understand and sympathize with the feelings and perspectives of another individual. What is it about empathy that makes it such a helpful service skill? Consider the following: Customers’ perceptions of how they are treated account for 70% of purchasing choices. It’s not whether the issue was resolved, whether reimbursement was issued, and how much time has been spent – at least not entirely or even primarily. Typically, customers’ bottom lines are emotional rather than financial, so people in business are accustomed to concentrating on the bottom line. Simply put, emotions are more significant than evidence.

Adaptability − When you deal directly with the public, your days aren’t the same. People aren’t all the same. Did you know that 60 percent of clients contact you in different ways based on what they’re doing? As a result, you’ll receive phone calls, emails, social media messages, and potentially even personal visits from the very same customers. Fortunately, an innovative CRM can alleviate this problem by integrating ticket origins and keeping customer data available regardless of channel. Customer service employees must have the same conceptual capabilities to adjust to a range of circumstances in the way that your customers demand at the time.

Possessing the Ability to Use Positive Language − If a customer calls you, they are likely having difficulty. However, agents must maintain a good attitude regardless of a customer’s rage, dissatisfaction, or defeatism. It’s OK to empathize with the customer; it’s an essential part of providing excellent service — but keep your tone as positive as possible. To lead the conversation in a positive direction, use positive statements. Keep your focus on the solution. Thank customers for their time, understanding, and treasured loyalty.

Customer feedback reports should be read − If your employer sends service feedback forms to consumers, review them if you get the opportunity. Customer feedback may provide a different picture of your existing customer service abilities than what you’ll get from management or coworkers inside.

Pov: My Experience Getting Tested For Covid

First-Person Account: Dean of Metropolitan College Shares her Experience Getting Tested for COVID-19 at Boston University: “No worse than a good nose cleaning”

Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Voices & Opinion

POV: My Experience Getting Tested for COVID-19 at BU “I proceeded with the nasal swab that felt no worse than a good nose cleaning”

On the first day COVID-19 collection sites opened for Boston University faculty and staff, a bright August afternoon, I walked to Agganis Arena for my scheduled appointment. I was curious and hopeful and apprehensive about how a system of such dissimilar parts—testing lab, sample collection sites, web portal—would come together. It was built so quickly and in a time of constant change, stress, and uncertainty that the probability of slipups seemed pretty high to me. And so much depended on its working properly—our trust in a safe workplace and the return to a version of normalcy. 

For months I had pored over memos, guidelines, and clarifications of guidelines on a bewildering range of topics—from how to teach remotely to physical distancing to the best masks and shields to HVAC standards to cleaning supplies and protocols. I also wrote my fair share of memos, guidelines, and clarifications to my staff at Metropolitan College. And my colleagues joined me for many hours of Zoom deliberations, finding our path to a new way of work. But there were, and remain, vast differences in opinion about the nature of the infection and how it should be handled in individual and family circumstances. And deciding on workplace adjustments and testing categories was an intensely emotional experience. 

My own thinking about the virus had traveled a long road in a very short time. The initial disbelief turned into an obsession to understand and learn more. I compulsively checked multiple dashboards for infection trends—daily and cumulative cases and deaths, infection rates, per capita stats by state and country, correlation with policies, and more. I looked at models and summoned my computer science background to understand the differences in assumptions and approaches.

It seemed logical that the sophistication of modern medicine, health, and data sciences supported by the strength of the US economy would quickly put an end to the crisis. However, the evidence was revealing a hard, obdurate fact—the virus was likely to stay with us for years. Not all news was discouraging. Disciplined mask-wearing, physical distancing, hygiene, testing, tracing, and isolation dramatically reduce the spread of the infection. 

My conclusion was that with a robust health safety framework, I prefer returning to work on campus. I arrived at this answer not just by reading about the pandemic, but also because I live in a multigenerational home, and my son continued his work at Massachusetts General Hospital without interruption. But this was my personal opinion, not shared by all, not possible for all, and I respect the differences. And no matter how divergent our stands, the reliability and validity of the testing operation is the keystone that has to hold our work together.  

So on Sunday, August 16, on the second day the Healthway portal went live, I logged in, read through the clear and surprisingly short instructions, and scheduled my test appointment for Monday afternoon. Promptly on Monday, I received a reminder to report my symptoms. Filling out the survey and being cleared for work for August 17 felt nicely reassuring—so far, things were working as they should. But there was still the test—and the little indignities of medical procedures kept percolating in my mind. I had heard horror stories of how ghastly and invasive it could be. An authoritative description on the internet—swab with a long stick from the nose to the back of the throat, possibly causing tears and gagging—did not help my jitters. Never mind assurances that BU had a gentler, kinder version. 

When I entered the Agganis lobby, I was immediately impressed by the organization. Friendly people gave me a test kit and directed me to one of a long row of little booths. Under the benevolent gaze of a young student worker safely behind a shield, I proceeded with the nasal swab that felt no worse than a good nose cleaning. Moving through the one-way lobby, I left my sample kit at the exit, and looked back—the work was continuing in an unhurried, systematic way as if it were nothing new or unusual in a sports facility turned sample collection center. Then on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after testing, I received my result—negative—and it felt like a victory. Not mine, but of the people who put all this together. 

Later in the week, the BU public dashboard went live, and I started checking the updates. First with my obsession of the early days of the pandemic, then in a more settled way, but never with the illusion we have erased the danger. The number of tests grew, surpassed the 10,000 mark, and the positive rate stayed around 0.2 percent, 10 times lower than in the state’s. A good beginning and a long road ahead.

Explore Related Topics:

Proven Local Marketing Strategies To Drive Customer Experience & Roi

Today’s consumer is looking for more personalized, meaningful brand interactions. How can you better connect to maximize your marketing ROI?

On March 24, I moderated a Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Dan Dillon, VP for Marketing at Reveal Mobile.

Dillon shared proven local marketing campaigns you can use right now to reach high-intent audiences.

Here’s a recap of his presentation.

While there was a massive adoption of online shopping in 2023 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it still only accounted for 21% of all retail sales.

Even prior to the pandemic, the majority of retail sales have been happening in physical stores. The same trend will most likely continue in 2023.

A recent eMarketer report shows that the number of retailers that plan to increase ad spend to drive in-store visits is nearly doubling over the next six months.

Delivering Personalization

One thing that did not change is consumers’ expectations of a personalized experience.

An Epsilon research revealed that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.

But personalization shouldn’t be just a one-off thing. It needs to happen throughout a consumer’s interactions.

Retailers that personalize as many touchpoints as possible across marketing and shopping channels are more likely to achieve 300% ROI or more, according to The Rise of Personalized Commerce Study.

Retailers that only focus on shopping experience see low ROI.

But what does personalization really mean?

For consumers, it means getting special offers only available to them and being identified as the same customer across all touchpoints, among others.

Brands can leverage certain types of content that are most compelling when it comes to personalization.

These include:

Products related to interest.

Similar product recommendations based on purchase or search.

Update on availability or price.

Retargeting of the exact product.

Based on their location.

And more.

But the most essential thing to make personalization work is data.

Consumers are aware that personalization runs on their data and some are willing to give up data if they know they are going to have a better experience with the brand they’re interacting with.

In fact, 66% of mobile device users share personal data if it makes life more convenient and 69% of mobile device users share location data if it makes life more convenient.

And here’s what retailers and brands can get in return if they leverage personalization:

Increased retail sales by 2-5%.

Reduced marketing costs by 10-20%.

Increased customer-satisfaction rate by 20%.

Boost in conversion rates by 10-15%.

Increased employee engagement by 20-30%.

Geofence to Maximize Local Marketing ROI

When marketing locally, retailers should focus on location data and capitalize on intent to offer personalized experiences.

Geofencing can also be used:

On competitors’ locations if you’re looking to capture their audience.

On other locations where your ideal customer visits.

With geofencing, you can:

Retain your customers.

Win market share.

Acquire new customers.

Getting Shoppers Back Into Local Stores

Location data lets you reach loyal customers you’ve been marketing to visit your store even during the pandemic.

It also allows you to:

Market to high-intent audiences and eliminate wasted ad spend.

Capture casual shoppers you don’t have in another system.

However, it’s really important to think about not just the locations but what kinds of audiences you’re marketing to.

MIT Sloan Management Review’s recent research reveals how consumer preferences have changed and how retailers can adapt.

They identified five major COVID-19-related shopper segments:

Functional: Shoppers who are willing to return in-person to retail environments where they are already familiar with the layout and range of products offered.

Tactile: Shoppers who have been bored at home and are eager to hit the stores once they perceive there’s a relatively low health risk during the pandemic.

Experiential: These are shoppers who aren’t at the store just to check off items on a shopping list, but view a shopping trip as an event.

Diversion: Shoppers are eager for the excuse to get out of the house and were among the most excited about stores reopening.

Reluctant: Shoppers who are never excited about in-person shopping, even when there wasn’t a pandemic..

Each shopper segment has different values and needs and it’s important to think them through especially when crafting your ad messaging.

Retailers and brand owners can target each segment by using the SAVE (which stands for Solutions, Access, Value, and Education) framework.

Personalized Messaging Driving Best ROI

There are a couple of touchpoints along the consumer experience where your shopper really resonates with your message:

Use personalized messaging to remind customers to come back and finish their purchase (e.g., promotional, loyalty, win-back, abandoned cart).

Personalized website and/or mobile app content.

Personalized product recommendations.

Geofencing Marketing on Facebook

Let’s talk more about each of these parts.

Custom Audiences Are Your Best Friend

There are three kinds of audiences you can create in Facebook Ads Manager:

Core audiences.

Custom audiences.

Lookalike audiences.

To create a core audience, you’ll need to choose criteria such as demographics, interests, and behaviors. Your ad will appear to people who match those criteria.

A custom audience is more targeted than a core audience because it’s created based on your data.

To set this audience up, you can create custom audiences using several types of data your organization already has. The most useful are:

Email address.

Mobile ad ID.

Phone number.

Company.

Job title.

After creating a custom audience, you can build a lookalike audience. Facebook uses the data you supply in your custom audience and finds similar people on the platform.

This is a great, cost effective way to extend your reach. This is a good tactic to deploy when you need bigger audiences for larger-scale campaigns. Conversion rates may go down, but awareness will go up.

Ad Sets: Who, When & How Much

At this level, you’ll determine how your ad will run, including budget, schedule, and audience.

Ads: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Measure What Really Matters

But what do you do if you’re running campaigns designed to drive foot traffic and purchases at brick-and-mortar retailers?

This is where privacy-compliant location data comes in. Location data drives the most reliable insights for foot traffic attribution, tying online ad spend to offline (in-store) visits.

These audiences can be made up of current customers, competitor’s customers, and visitors to locations you otherwise care about.

Depending on the tool you’re using, location-based marketing software can also show you more detailed reports, such as foot traffic by day and comparisons to your competitors’ in-store traffic.

This enables you to see how your campaign is performing in near real time and make adjustments while in flight.

No need to wait until the campaign wraps up and then try again with a whole new campaign cycle.

Case Study

Increase foot traffic to restaurants.

Win over customers going to competitive locations.

They found their ideal audience by geofencing:

Visitors to Moe’s.

Visitors to direct competitors such as Qdoba and Chipotle.

Visitors to indirect competitors (i.e., Mexican Restaurants in Raleigh, NC area).

They were able to capture nearly 20,000 diners after a week.

They took that list of mobile ad IDs and then pushed them into Facebook which matched 85% of this VISIT Local custom audience (17,000).

The results?

They saw a 67% increase in app download conversions.

By targeting this audience, they were able to improve their customer loyalty and retain diners they were under threat of losing from their competitor.

Q&A

Q: What tools/services do you recommend for geofence marketing?

Dan Dillon: VISIT Local from Reveal Mobile. It enables marketers to create custom audiences based on locations consumers visit.

[Slides] Proven Local Marketing Strategies to Drive Customer Experience & ROI

Check out the SlideShare below.

Image Credits

Screenshots taken by author, March 2023

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