Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Marketing Insights from Linda Bustos, Ecommerce Expert from Get Elastic

In this series, we will pose a set of questions to explore the insights and opinions of experts in various aspects of marketing (social media, content, etc.) and ecommerce!

Starting us off is Get Elastic, the #1 subscribed ecommerce blog in the world! Catering mainly to ecommerce retailers, Get Elastic provides excellent articles ranging from optimising SEO to utilising social media for businesses.

We asked the wonderful author of the blog, Linda Bustos, a few questions about the latest news and future challenges in the realm of ecommerce and marketing, and here’s how it went:

There have been many changes lately in the marketing world: Search engine algorithm changes, big changes at Google (not provided, publisher/author markup, TOS changes, G+ comments for Youtube), Facebook custom audiences, Twitter ads etc. What are your thoughts on these changes? How has the role of online/ecommerce marketing evolved in light of them?

In online marketing, the only constant is change.

Search engines update several times per year, ad networks add and remove features, testing tools evolve (and get acquired), social networks are born and die, and mobile device use grows, so it should be part of every ecommerce marketer’s job description to keep on top of the latest news and shifts and adjust marketing strategies accordingly.

Ecommerce leaders need to understand these changes to keep specialists, consultants and contractors accountable, even if they’re not the ones actually managing the day-to-day SEO, PPC, email, social and mobile programs — especially mobile.

There is not one online marketing activity that mobile is not transforming today.

What challenges do you think SMBs might face with marketing in 2014? What can they do to overcome them?

The holy grail in online marketing is the ability to tie in non-site online and offline customer data and achieve a 360-degree view of the customer, in order to correctly attribute sales to marketing campaigns, to deliver shopping experiences “in context” to where the consumer is and what he or she is interested in, and to predict what a consumer will do next across experience touchpoints.

We’re at a stage where the importance has never been higher, but the tools to achieve this goal are not well understood, and companies that make this a priority will face the challenge of “how” to get these data sources pooled, and how to turn them into actionable insights. Many SMBs simply do not have the resources and tools to do this, and will have to rely on existing tools and piecing together of mobile analytics with online / offline, social, etc.

The hope is in time, the industry will catch up in finding solutions and making these tools available at reasonable cost, making them accessible to more businesses, along with established best practices.

In the meantime, businesses should determine what is the best way to handle attribution across channels, to properly give credit for conversions and “assists” that occur across marketing touchpoints.

84% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth the most. What are interesting/ innovative uses of word-of-mouth marketing you’ve seen? Any thoughts on how marketers could take advantage of word-of-mouth?

It’s harder than it sounds to get a viral word-of-mouth campaign going. Even with social networks, people are reluctant to share commercial messages with friends for fear of spamming them, so only the products and WOM campaigns that are truly unique, informative, entertaining, funny or unbelievable will gain traction.

What small and medium ecommerce marketers can do is collect the “micro-pieces” of word-of-mouth that are happening organically, and find ways to bake them into product pages, emails, home pages and their own social posts to boost “social proof” when/where customers and would-be-customers can be most influenced by them.

Finally, who do you think will win: Google or Facebook? Why?

Both, just for different reasons.

Facebook wants to get into search, and Google wants to thrive in social. They both are eons ahead of each other in their core strengths and neither will catch up to the other.

I do believe Facebook has a higher chance of losing relevance the long term — the more advertising Facebook adds, the less fun the space will be, a few privacy SNAFUs and Facebook could go the way of MySpace, but Google Search has a much stronger position in the search space, it’s not going anywhere.

Points to ponder over:

  • Mobile is changing everything about online marketing. Ecommerce leaders will have to keep with these changes (and others) to survive and stay ahead.
  • The greatest challenge of online marketing is to develop a complete understanding of customers and their behavior. The future will belong to businesses that are able to make progress on this front, and getting more value out of their marketing efforts with those insights.
  • Use “Micro Word-of-Mouth”: Collect little pieces of word-of-mouth that happens organically, and integrate them into your product pages, marketing collateral, everything.

For more ecommerce tips and research articles on digital commerce, check out the Get Elastic blog here. Also, follow Linda on Twitter and Google+! Finally, stay tuned for the next post, as we’ll be featuring Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing Institute!

Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion ecommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior and social psychology.

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