A Holiday Shopping Season Like No Other

How a global pandemic is shifting the online shopping landscape.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Decorations are starting to pop-up here and there while visions of deep discounts and door-buster deals dance in our collective heads. And, while the season may very well end-up looking shiny and bright, there’s a more-than-likely chance that it’s not necessarily going to feel that way.

To say that COVID-19 has impacted our lives is an understatement of epic proportions. It has changed everything about the way we live, work, travel, and, as will become obvious in just a few days, the way we shop.

According to Adobe Analytics, in 2019 Black Friday shoppers spent $7.4 billion online – a $1.2 billion increase over the previous year. And 61% of all online retail transactions last year were from smartphones (a 16% increase over 2018).

As for Cyber Monday 2019, customers spent $9.4 billion online – a 20% increase from 2018. Mobile transactions accounted for $3.1 billion in sales, a 46% increase over the previous year. Impressive numbers, to say the least. But, that was before COVID changed, well, everything. Just a few months ago Google stated:

“More than a third of U.S. shoppers who normally shop in-store for Black Friday say they won’t this year. And half of U.S. shoppers say the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for the holidays this year.”

If that statement turns out to be true, online retailers could be in for a record-shattering online holiday shopping season. In anticipation, many brands have ramped up their online presence and are feeling more prepared than ever. Here are just some of the strategies and tactics marketers are implementing to make sure that their customers find that special something for that special someone as easily, and as safely as possible. 

Turkey Day Will Just Be About Turkey

If there’s one thing you could always rely on come Thanksgiving, it was that the big box stores would be open on Thanksgiving. Not this year. Walmart, Best Buy, and Target have all announced that their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving. Given that fact, most of their holiday sales and promotions will most likely reside on their respective websites. 

Instead of Punches And Kicks, Discounts And Clicks

Shoppers will no longer have to risk bodily harm by throwing themselves into a pre-dawn shopping scrum. Doorbuster deals and massive crowds cued up for high-ticket items will be replaced by online discounts that start sooner and last for a longer time. 

Oh, Good, Another Acronym

During the early days of the pandemic, common household items quickly ran out of stock. Unfortunately, one usually didn’t realize the item was out of stock until one was already standing in the store. This is why BOPIS (buy online and pick-up in-store) has become so popular. Expect more retailers to offer this service that puts customer safety and convenience first, while still making cash registers ring. 

Time To Go Shopping

Just like making a reservation at a restaurant, some stores may require customers to register for a specific shopping time slot. By doing so, it limits the number of people in the store at one time, making for a safer, and certainly more unique shopping experience. 

That’s Not A Bell That’s Ringing

Chances are good that when a phone vibrates this holiday season it won’t be a BFF – it will probably be a retailer. Remember, last year 61% of online Black Friday transactions were made on mobile devices. Many brands will continue to use SMS or push notifications to offer deals, and let shoppers know that their online/mobile order is ready for pickup.

When You Absolutely, Positively Want Free Shipping

One of the most effective ways for online retailers to move merchandise is by offering free shipping. Most retailers offer free shipping once you hit a certain dollar amount. Some offer an entire day where every purchase is shipped free of charge. But, this year, when so many will be unable to celebrate in person with family and friends, shipping costs will be even more top of mind with consumers. So, it’s probably a safe bet that retailers will be in even more of a giving mood when it comes to offering free shipping. 

Need assistance elevating your eCommerce business in this unprecedented holiday season?

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Capturing Minds: Augmented Reality & Cognitive Performance

 

As we have covered in our recent blog posts, the adoption of Augmented Reality is far ahead of schedule compared to expert predictions. With more AR experiences flooding the marketplace, the competition for valuable real estate in a customer’s mind will reach an all time high. The highly interactive nature inherent to AR experiences will present a unique opportunity to create lasting imprints in the minds of your customers. In other words, you can create memories designed specifically for your target market. To understand how to best capitalize on this innovative emerging technology, one must first come to understand how AR influences cognitive performance. 

 

Duration, Path, Outcome

Our brain is divided into two distinct sectors: conscious and unconscious. The conscious side is continuously processing information, looking at possible outcomes, developing predictions, and assessing the world around us. The information it perceives as “non-prioritized” is sent to the unconscious sector.

This process of Duration, Path, Outcome is constant now more so than ever via the seemingly endless scrolling through social media feeds. Our brain is actively passing actions to automation mode while searching for a dopamine fix. 

This brain process is simply broken down to Signals vs Noise. 

Memory Creation & Plasticity

Emerging Technology allows for a further push on brain plasticity, or the ability for the brain to be shaped and molded. When looking at AR, VR, Spatial Computing, or any form of interaction with technology, there are significant signs that the brain is stretched and able to rewrite former engrained paths and their outcomes.

The goal of every experience should be the creation of new memories. Using this as our foundation and core Key Performance Indicator (KPI) creates the desired interaction between technology and the user. If our desired effect is to create a memorable moment, the brain is at the focal point of our interactions. Immersive and impactful experiences will be tied directly to the Signals, rather than more Noise. 

Tying It All Together

Creating Signals is the key to obtaining valuable brain real estate.  While creating more Noise will further distance a company from its desired outcome. 

But, we have always done it this way…

Consumers are currently on Noise overload. They are being bombarded from all angles, whether it be from mobile apps, social media, or eCommerce websites. Experiences are all the same and what was once amazing is now normal. Everything is blending together.

Creating experiences that push past the brain’s dismissive functions is the core of our team’s purpose. Creating memories will be realized through the use of  Emerging Tech. At PeakActivity, we help you build Signals that will allow you to own the most valuable real estate in the world: inside a consumer’s mind.  

Want to learn more about the implementation of Augmented Reality and how it can help your business?

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Augmented Reality: Why It Means Things Are Changing

As the third quarter came to a close, SnapChat (Snap Inc). released a report detailing the quicker than expected adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) experiences. With such massive growth in this space, continued heavy investment in AR is inevitable. This report underscores the fact that Augmented Reality and Emerging Technology are here to stay and it will have an enormous impact on businesses that are quick to adopt and implement this game-changing technology. Augmented Reality is no longer simply a tool to fix a flower crown or dog ears on the user. Its potential impact on education, experiential marketing, retail, and data visualization cannot be understated. 

 

Education & Training

“There is significant evidence that indicates that the grades obtained in the learning unit that was taught using AR are better than the grades obtained in the unit that was taught using traditional methods four weeks after the initial assessment” – The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology 

What is the benefit of faster, longer-lasting, and more intuitive training to your business? Augmented Reality allows end-users to understand complex data and training modules with a longer rate of retention of knowledge. This understanding of a product or process will ensure a longer stickiness in your end-users mind driving a higher cognitive recall. 

Marketing & Experiential

“Traditional electronic commerce (e-commerce) is limited because it cannot provide enough direct information about products…The technology presented in this paper shows how Augmented Reality (AR) can be used to help overcome the limitations and enhance e-commerce systems.” – International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction

Creating Signals above the Noise for customers is more important now than ever. With the average American adult spending 3 hours, 43 minutes on a smartphone device per day we are more apt to disregard traditional marketing efforts within social media, websites, and installed apps. Creating Interactivity within AR experiences delivers a more immersive experience which will drive up a higher usage and retention of information. Spikes in browsing interactivity must be triggered by “new” experiences that a user has not come across yet. 

Retail & Conversions

“AR-based product presentations generally provide effective communication benefits compared to web-based product presentations and the positive relationship between interactivity/vividness and usefulness/enjoyment is mediated by a sense of immersion.”  – Journal of Interactive Marketing

Augmented Reality experiences are currently impacting customers’ shopping habits that drive higher engagement and conversion. Options such as “see before you buy” allows customers to place any product where they want and interact. In a similar vein, AR features allow consumers to “try on” clothes before buying them without the hassle of actually putting them on. 

Data & Visualization

“The main benefit from the implementation of the MR approach is human experience improvement…visualization allows convenient access to huge amounts of data and provides a view from different angles…Furthermore, it ensures actionable insights that improve decision making.” – Journal of Big Data

Creating interactive data and seamless interactions within digital objects allow users to understand and grasp complex findings unseen in the 2D world. Placing the most essential data in the central area of the human visual field in Mixed Reality would allow one to obtain the presented information in a short period of time without significant data losses. Improving visualizations by using cognitive psychological principles and by implementing the most natural interaction with visualized virtual objects is destined to yield the best results. 

Augmented Reality is changing the landscape of customer engagement. Its adoption is far more rapid than experts had previously predicted. Its ability to create effective and meaningful experiences for your target audience is undeniable. Augmented Reality is here and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. 

Want to learn more about the implementation of Augmented Reality and how it can help your business?

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PeakActivity Establishes Partnership with Cloud Computing Leader

Marketing and Technology Company Joins Forces with CloudHesive to Bring a Fully Packaged eCommerce Platform to Their Customers.

BOYNTON BEACH, FL, OCTOBER 2020 – South Florida based PeakActivity recently announced its strategic partnership with CloudHesive, an Amazon Premier Partner specializing in the cloud technology space. 

PeakActivity manages a robust eCommerce platform that drives their customers’ online presence and eCommerce revenue. Partnering with CloudHesive takes PeakActivity to the next level of maintaining and securing this platform, as well as providing an end-to-end solution to new customers as a single service offering. Knowing that everything from software features and security, to management and deployment processes will be managed by a single team provides customers with peace of mind.

“We’ve worked on some projects with CloudHesive for a couple of years now, involving infrastructure set up, management, and recovery,” said Manish Hirapara, CEO of PeakActivity. “When it comes to establishing relationships with potential business partners we look for those who tend to share the same level of commitment towards customer satisfaction and innovation that we do. It didn’t take long to realize that we found that kind of partner in CloudHesive.”  

“CloudHesive is a customer focused organization and we partner with others that share our values and focus,” said Jim Walker, CEO of CloudHesive. “We want to work with other organizations that share the values of customer obsession, integrity, and doing the right thing for our customer base. PeakActivity has proven that they share these values with CloudHesive.”  

PeakActivity is a technology and marketing company focused on helping businesses achieve long-term, profitable, and scalable growth through better insights, superior talent, and game-changing technology. Utilizing a three-step approach (Dream, Deliver, Elevate), we partner with businesses to accelerate growth through digital innovation while working in a highly communicative, embedded team model. That means clients get dedicated, cross-functional teams that work in tandem with client resources to deliver quick wins tied to long-term strategy. PeakActivity takes pride in our broad and deep expertise, spanning a range of industries and offering a wellspring of experience in design, engineering, technology, and marketing.

CloudHesive is an Amazon Web Services Premier Consulting Partner headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile.  We are a customer obsessed organization which is driven by delivering innovative cloud solutions.  Our customers come to us for assistance migrating, securing, and managing mission critical platforms in the cloud. These platforms include niche business solutions built on top of Amazon Connect, Amazon Workspaces, and our standard managed services offering. CloudHesive is focused on driving incremental value to our customers. 

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Be That Voice in Your Customers’ Heads

Be That Voice in Your Customers’ Heads

How to Brace Yourself for the Voice SEO Revolution

Voice AI assistants are rapidly colonizing consumers’ homes. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has infiltrated its way into over 60,000 different gadgets, from your smart speakers to your car. Over forty percent of adults say they use voice search every single day, a prime opportunity for you to market your brand.

Marketing to all these people with all these AI voice options might seem a little tricky. The search results on your Alexa sound a little different from what you might find on regular ol’ Google. But, optimizing your marketing plan for voice search can be critical to your SEO (search engine optimization) success.

Be the answer to every question

Voice search smart assistants Siri, Alexa, and Cortana are making us rethink how we should manage our SEO strategy.

Consider a consumer who asks, “Alexa, is rice gluten-free?” Now, imagine you are a company that has recently developed a gluten-free rice product. You can already see the intent to buy, so all you have to do is put yourself on the other end of that question.

The same question in a text search would probably come up with a list of gluten-free rice brands and brand comparisons. You already know how to set your SEO for text. But the customer asking that question using voice search probably expects a response merely telling them yes or no and suggesting one brand and one price.

The SEO strategy to become that one company listed comes down to how well your content answers direct questions. Voice SEO categorizes by most popular, through continuous testing of conversion rates. Think of it as a constant race to win that one buyer.

Another aspect of voice SEO you may not have taken into account is tone. The tone of voice search is more natural and conversational. This means that your business, your website, and your content should also sound more like that.

It’s like shopping, but without the shopping

Beyond simply marketing your brand, consumers are starting to use voice search to actually purchase your products.

Right now, the options a customer has on a smart speaker consist mostly of hearing what the cart contains and adding and removing products. Walmart recently partnered with Google Assistant to introduce Walmart Voice Order.

So a consumer could order copious amounts of gluten-free rice without ever knowing about your brand. When they order the rice, they probably won’t hear options for a brand or anything else. The assistant simply provides you a “best match” product and brand based on previous purchase habits or recommended items.

So how can you become that “best match” brand? The answer is again voice SEO. Your SEO should adapt to create content that answers the direct search. It’s a winner-take-all game. Once a user has purchased your product, it will begin to populate their recent searches and product recommendations so the likelihood of repeat buys is increase

Conclusion

Voice SEO should definitely be up your sleeve as part of your marketing bag of tricks. Voice AI is not going away anytime soon as more and more people embrace this technology. Voice search acts as a medium of instant answers and instant eCommerce, so if you’re going to optimize for voice, make sure exact matching is one of your SEO priorities. Take into account your speed and your tone. Users want direct, specific answers and they want them fast.

PeakActivity works hard to create future-proof eCommerce solutions. Voice SEO is the future of commerce and we’re on it. If your customers could benefit from finding you by voice search, we can help you out with that. eCommerce is moving to voice and you need to move with it. Check out our website for more information.

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Kardashian Effect: The Power of Influencers

It’s easy to make fun of the often absurd world of social media influencers. No matter where your opinion on the matter lies, the reality is that influencers have taken over the world of social media marketing. While delivering 11 times higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional marketing, the companies who are hesitant to jump on the influencer marketing bandwagon are missing out.

The concept of an “influencer” may seem abstract to some marketers, but influencer marketing has become increasingly complex over the last few years. Companies need to know how to simultaneously leverage the right levels of influencers to maximize their brand awareness and drive the greatest results. Here’s how it works.

It’s like getting a recommendation from a close friend who cares.

While some companies have dismissed influencers as superficial or not important, your potential customers have real and authentic relationships with them through social media. Product tutorials and endorsements from trusted sources are influencing people to buy things on social media and influencers carry more weight with customers than anyone could have previously imagined.

Influencers are EXPERTS. They offer deep expertise in a specific area. When a beauty influencer features a makeup brand that she uses every day, her followers are going to trust that she uses “the best products” because they trust her recommendations are authentic. Influencers gain the trust of their followers by bringing them into their inner circle and sharing their lives while using the products.

Influencers are CONNECTED. It’s not always about the number of followers on a platform. Social media influencers, including nano- and micro-influencers, have higher engagement rates of quality followers. This deep level of interactivity builds relationships and is critical to why social influencers are so valuable to any marketing strategy: it’s a platform of trusted fans that facilitates a receptiveness to a brand.

Influencers are AUTHENTIC. The best social influencers are authentic; they have a passion for a brand or product, which shows in what they endorse or recommend to their followers. To their target audience, they are the authority in whatever niche they’re occupying. They’ll tell it like it is with no filter.

Seeing is believing…

Ok, you believe you need influencers, but where do you start? It’s time to find fans of your product or brand. The biggest challenge for most marketers today is finding relevant influencers, people who believe in their brand.

To be successful in influencer marketing, you can’t work with just anyone on social media. You need to find the influencers who would actually believe in your product or service. If they love your product, they will talk about it to their audience in a way that is authentic. If you interact, engage, and help promote them, they will be brand promoters for life.

When looking for influencers, you also want to consider the following: 

  • How do they interact with their fans when not promoting content. What types of comments do they write back to their fans?
  • What is their content style? How do they create content and does it align with where your brand is going?
  • What have you done to engage with them? Influencer marketing is a two-way street, so you can’t expect to get what you aren’t willing to give.

PeakActivity’s social media marketing knows how to get in touch with the right influencers for your business. Get in touch with us by filling out this form.

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How Many Emails is Too Many?

With all the talk about online, social and mobile marketing, it can seem like email has been reduced to poorly spelled e-mails promising to cure wrinkles and banish fat or requesting millions wired to offshore accounts (spoiler: don’t do it). But in fact, pretty much everyone still uses email, and email marketing is possibly the best marketing strategy to deepen your relationship with your customer and drive eCommerce revenue.

An email has a personal quality, which makes it a great way to connect with customers. With the newest eCommerce technology, you can even target potential customers who have browsed your site. A great email marketing campaign has become more important than ever to driving greater brand affinity and increases in sales.

Here are a few simple things that you can do to create and maintain an email marketing campaign that your customers with love.

1. Not everyone wants your emails, and that’s okay.

Having a giant email list might look great on paper, but bombarding thousands of people with unwanted emails is super annoying–probably not the best way to gain customers. Your email list should be a collection of email addresses gained by engaging with potential customers through lead-generating campaigns. Sometimes reducing your email list of customers who aren’t interested is one of the best things you can do to gain the support of your loyal customers. 

If you are looking to grow, offer in-store opt-ins, and include social sharing buttons to increase the chance that visitors will subscribe. If you create multiple, targeted subscription types, you’ll increase the chance that visitors will subscribe to one of them.

2. Don’t send emails you wouldn’t want to receive

Make your email marketing campaign less spam-like by making sure that each email has a definite purpose. By creating a marketing email calendar, you plan and run a mix of content. 

Promotional emails can include any offers that your users might find beneficial. Email is a great opportunity to incentivize customers with promotions. If you can get them in the door, you can share what you have to offer, and what differentiates you from competitors.

Additionally, all of your blog posts, white papers, and anything else you have to offer can be shared via email. The content will change, but email gives you the flexibility to always be relevant and specific. By making a plan, you won’t accidentally send a ridiculous amount of emails to the same people, and each email can contain something your customers want to receive. 

3. Pretend you’re cool, and people might believe you

Creating an online brand identity is key to a successful email campaign, as well as maintaining an online presence. Working with your client to understand their brand voice or style is an integral part of effectively speaking to the customer. Choose a tone that best fits your company’s style, whether it be playful or serious, and stay consistent throughout all of your marketing materials.

A brand identity is a way to communicate with the world, stand out from your competition, and create a brand experience that encourages people to engage with you. Build a brand identity that accurately conveys your essence and is flexible enough to evolve with you. If you stay consistent with your identity, you’ll probably convince the cool kids to open your emails too. 

4. Target your customer’s, tell them what they want.

Yes, your devices are watching you, but it can be super helpful for marketing. With new technology for automated website behavior, you can gain new customers just by targeting people who have visited your site and displayed certain browsing habits. The list of ways to target customers is endless.

One great, not super creepy example is abandoned cart acquisition. Once a user has filled their cart, ensure that they complete their purchase by sending out reminder emails or emails with promotional offers about the items they showed interest in. You can also spread goodwill about your brand by focusing on customers who did make a purchase from you. Send them info about how to properly care for the items they bought.

Email has a long history of stability, and they even get delivered on Sundays. While the email space has evolved, email marketing is more relevant than ever. An email marketing campaign is a cost-effective solution that gives you the power to reach customers in a place most people visit every day — their inbox.

PeakActivity happens to be pretty great at creating email marketing campaigns for our customers. We’ve successfully implemented non-spamlike email campaigns for quite a few companies. One of our customers even saw 76.5% revenue growth by partnering with us. Get in touch with us by filling out this form.

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