Why a Responsive Website?

Definition: A responsive website responds to the needs of the user and the devices they are using. The layout changes based on the size and capabilities of the device.

We used our own HT Designs website as a test to prove why a responsive website is so important for business.   HT Designs Responsive Website

In the year, leading up to the launch of the new website, our Bounce Rate was averaging 60.7% and we had very minimal mobile visitors.  This means that over half of our site’s visitors immediately exited our site after viewing the page they landed on.

Increase in Mobile Visitors in the first 6 weeks

We designed and developed a new responsive website that gave us some astounding results within just 6 weeks of launching.

Not only did our bounce rate drop to 8.04%, but we have seen a 68% increase in visitors per week, and there has been a 28% increase in mobile users. Wow! If that does not answer the question of “Why Responsive?”, then I don’t know what will.

We know, the site is not perfect, but as we monitor and analyze the site, we will continue to work on creating a better experience for our customers. We will continue to update this post with new and revised stats.

Please visit our site as your feedback is always appreciated!

Updated on December 2, 2016 with revised stats.

 

TIP SERIES FOR INDEPENDENT RETAILERS: Increase Your Seasonal Margins With One Simple Tip

TIP:  Build anticipation for a product or collection through release dates

Illustration for Release Dates

The most common reaction to receiving new inventory is to place product out on the sales floor as soon as it arrives in your stock room. Many retailers have the idea that you must catch every sale as soon as possible. This does not create excitement for your customer, and does not drive traffic through your door.

Having weekly, monthly, or seasonal release dates gets your customers excited about coming through the door on a regular basis instead of just when they need a particular item. This also instills a sense of worth around a product or collection instead of a customer waiting for the item to go on sale at the end of the season. This strategy will maintain the margin for longer into the season and possibly even sell out of inventory before you need to lose margin with a seasonal sale.

Team up with suppliers so that your release dates align with their marketing campaigns and get double the bang. Partner with brands using co-op allowance to help build the buzz around special releases.

Nike has created lineups for their core retailers world-wide for years, by creating release date buzz around highly anticipated pro models and limited edition products.

Online businesses have a history of success, such as Canadian brand Frank and Oak or even discount retailers such as Gilt, releasing new collections monthly or at specific times of day creating a virtual line-up with customers clicking refresh on the anticipated hour to be the first to get the new collection or deal.

Connect the Dots Barkbox

Subscription based businesses have done this extremely well.  A good example of this is the “BARKBOX”.  Not only does the dog owner anticipate the arrival, but the excitement the dog shows upon seeing the box of goodies makes the monthly expense worthwhile.  Once the owner sees what toy or treat the dog loves the best, they can go online to the BARKSHOP and buy more.    This business model drives traffic to the e-commerce site that it would not otherwise have.

Do You Have a Brand Manual or Style Guide?

If you have answered this question with a “no” but deal with vendors, suppliers and media on a regular basis, then you need to consider working with your designer to create one.

One key way to build brand equity is to create a set of “design rules” that tie together the look and feel of all your marketing materials. We pull this together into something called a “Brand Style Guide” that can be shared with internal departments, marketing and design agencies, suppliers and media.

Style Guide and Brand Manual

At the very least, it is important to have a style guide to keep your look consistent across all consumer touch-points. Having on hand a quick guide to your corporate fonts and colours is a time saver that ensures that your logo and/or wordmark will be seen accurately on everything from websites to t-shirts.

Build your visual STYLE GUIDE around these 4 key areas:

  1. Logo: The consistent use of your logo is the most important piece to your brand. A style guide outlines how the logo should look on different materials and backgrounds. It will outline the placement and size that should be used for different communication and marketing collateral.
  2. Colour: Colour is the second most important component to your brand identity. Colour makes an immediate impression and impacts perception of your brand. Colour has different meanings in different industries and different cultures so a lot of research is needed before final selection. A style guide will show how a colour can be used and how your logo will look in Black and White scenarios. A style guide will define the colour model depending on where it will be used – ie/ RGB for digital / CMYK for Print / Pantone for solid colour use. (Basic Colour Theory)
  3. Fonts: A brand style guide will outline the font families that are associated with your brand materials. This is usually limited to one or two fonts along with different weights and sizes for Headlines, Body Text, and Info-Graphics.
  4. Visuals – Graphics / Illustrations / Photography: Every brand needs to consider what type of visuals they want to represent their brand. Graphics such as symbols and shapes should be used the same way across all materials from environmental signage to annual reports to digital assets. The style of illustration or photography should be consistent across all corporate materials. Seasonal advertising campaigns would have their own specific style sheet that would fit into the overall guidelines.

If you do a lot of packaging, advertising or media events, a brand manual will include everything from your mission statement to your brand voice to how your taglines should be used to what photo filters to use on your custom photography.

Being in control of your brand across all touch-points is a very important step in helping you keep all your dots connected.

Check out a post by Mary Stribley that showcases  50 great examples of Style Guides

Trade Shows Are An Investment You Make In Your Business

5 Ways to Make Your Investment Count

Trade show investment Checklist

  1.  Measurable Goals
    What is your goal? What do you want to achieve? If you don’t have a measurable goal in place you will never be able to accurately determine if the trade show was worth attending. Be greedy and have more than one goal. Have a goal for the show itself, and also have a goal for the revenue that comes immediately afterwards.
    Example:
    # of Warm/Hot Leads picked up at the show
    # of conversions after the show

  2. Storytelling
    No matter the size of the your trade show booth, there needs to be focus! What story do you want to tell? What do you want every person to leave knowing about your brand / product / service?
    Allerion Trade Show Booth
    Booth Example:
    This Allerion booth is only a 10 x 10 space but it checks all the boxes. It is simple with a clear message. You know immediately the industry that they are servicing. You know the positioning that they are taking. You know the product that they are showcasing. You can easily find the contact information without having to search for it.

  3. Engagement
    Even if you are a B2B business who works with corporate clients, every person who visits your booth should leave with a great brand experience.  This does not mean you need to hire dancing monkeys and give neck massages unless of course your business is a travelling circus or a spa. This means that every person who passes through your booth should feel that they are important, whether or not they are a likely candidate to partner with your business.

    The simplicity of a smile, a greeting, a demo, a coffee or something that is unique to your business will go a long ways in establishing your brand as a true leader in your industry. Adding interactive touch points such as touchscreen kiosks or video demos, can keep visitors in your booth longer giving your sales team more time to build relationships.

    Maison Orphée Trade Show MarketingPersonal Example:
    I was at a consumer trade show this past weekend, and one brand really stood out to me as having checked all the boxes. Maison Orphée, from Quebec, engaged with each and every person who stopped by their 10 x 10 booth. Before getting a hands-on demonstration and creating your own vinaigrette seasoning to take home, you were requested to download their app.  From a marketing perspective, this was a brilliant move as they now have the ability to track future activity through their app, plus can determine if they met their more immediate goals of # of downloads and purchases.

  4. Sales Tools – Be Digitally Savvy
    Have your sales tools in both digital and hard copy formats. Have an ipad in the booth, where people can sign up for more information to be emailed to them. This gives you a reason to reach out to a potential lead after the show is over, and the information overload has settled down.

    As per the example above, creating an app with real value, gives you a continued connection to your fans and customers long after the trade show is over. The Maison Orphée App, gives searchable recipes for Marinades and Vinaigrettes, as well as easy to use functionality that allows you to change up the recipes depending on the # of people you want to serve.

  5. Preparation = Rewards
    Don’t believe the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Be prepared. Don’t wait for walk by traffic. Invite people and have set appointments. I can’t stress this enough. Get people excited about the event weeks in advance. This could be by social channels or by a fun personalized invitation sent out to your database.

    Personal Example:
    I was at a show recently where a few sales reps from various booths commented that “Tradeshows are dying” and as I looked around, I noticed that their booths were slow and reps were just chatting with each other. Yet, as I rounded the corner to go visit the booth of the brand I was working with, I noticed a drastic difference. This booth was humming with activity. Every rep was busy with a customer. At the end of the show, I asked them what they thought made the difference. They said it came down to the fact that they had sent out invitations and set up appointments weeks in advance.

Make sure your investment nets you the outcome you want by taking the time to plan ahead.

Marketing To A Unique Canadian Culture

6 Differences between Canada and the USA that ALL Brands should know.

Brands - Canada vs USA Illustration

Canadians struggle to define and preserve a unique Canadian culture with such a dominant culture right next door.  An understanding and acceptance of the differences rather than playing to traditional stereotypes will make your brand  stand out in Canada.

  1. Two Official Languages: French and English
    In the province of Quebec, 94% of the population can speak French with 82% speaking French at home. Therefore it is no surprise that French Canadians want to be marketed to in French.

    Beyond the fact that it is local law to display all marketing materials in French, talking to someone in their official language shows that you have respect for their business. (Charter of the French Language)

  2. Canadian English is different than US English
    Nothing screams ‘US brand’ more than seeing marketing materials with spelling like “color” and “check” rather than “Colour” and “Cheque” respectively. Canadians also use different terms that don’t have any meaning in the US, such as Toque/Tuque, garburator or bachelor apartment.
    Illustration of language differences between Canada and the USAThis may sound rather minor, but this can greatly affect things like SEO. If a Canadian is searching for a “Tuque in Grey” on an American website, they will most likely not find what they are looking for.

  3. Canadian Population: 36 Million Canadians
    88% of the Canadian population lives in a metropolitan area with 34% living in 3 main cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver), and 75% of Canadians live within 161 km of the US border.

    10 Million + Consumers are not located near urban centres and are considered remote with oftentimes subarctic climates (ie/ Manitoba only has a population density of 2.2 people per square km with northern regions with ZERO per square km), delivery options can be challenging and expensive for online businesses arranging shipment of goods.

    Illustration of the Population of Canada vs USA

    US population is almost 320 Million which means Canada is approximately 11% of the size. The Canadian market is small and really forces Canadian brands and manufacturers to consider the huge market next door.

  4. Metric System vs Imperial
    The US is one of the very few countries that still uses the Imperial system, so most US brands are already cognisant of the fact that they have to consider the Metric System if they want to market to the rest of the world.
    Illustration of the Metric System vs the Imperial SystemSometimes the details can be forgotten. For example, Temperature ratings on apparel and footwear need to be changed to meet Canadian or European standards. Marketing slogans that are meant to be clever can lose its double meanings (ie/ using words such as mile, inch, or foot) to a younger generations.

  5. Holidays
    Canadians have different holidays from the US and have to be considered in marketing plans in terms of timelines and additional assets needed.

    To name a few examples: Family Day, May Two Four Weekend, Canada Day, Thanksgiving or Boxing Day

  6. Diversity is Canada’s Strength
    “One-fifth of Canadians were born elsewhere and chose to immigrate to Canada. In Toronto, more than half were born outside Canada. We have raised generation after generation of children who think nothing of hearing five or six different languages spoken on the playground.”
    Visit
    : http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2015/11/26/diversity-canadas-strength  to read Justin Trudeau’s full speech on this very topic.

    Immigrants to USA consider attaining US citizenship an honourable achievement as they go after “The American Dream”. In Canada by contrast, immigrants do not identify as being Canadian as much as they identify with the country they were born in first and many will go to great lengths to retain that culture. Canada even hosts large festivals like Caribana in Toronto to celebrate cultural diversity.

These 6 differences should be taken into consideration when a US brand plans a cross-border marketing campaign or even launch an e-commerce website.

Addendum w/ more differences:

Politics:  Canada has a Prime Minister versus a President.
The differences are obviously a lot deeper than that, but let’s leave that conversation there.

Currency:  Exchange rates are a huge point of difference because it affects so many different areas of business. Currency is always a pain point for the Canadian consumer who does not understand how a brand and retailer purchases and prices inventory. Many Canadian subsidiaries that have to purchase inventory in US dollars, have to hedge funds to try and offset exchange rates that fluctuate from season to season. BUT you can’t exactly get into factory costs, duties, exchange rates, inventory, and hedge funds at the time of purchase so what a consumer sees is the difference in price from a US retailer versus a Canadian retailer.

Retail Floor Print: Canadian Shopping Malls and retail shops generally have a smaller square footage than US counterparts so you will find stats showing that Canadian Retail is a lot more successful per square footage.  This does bring some challenges for brands in the US who develop retail displays for their product. Canadian retailers are very conscious about how much space that takes up, and therefore how much revenue it needs to generate to make that floor print worthwhile.

Also read the article “What does it mean to be Canadian” in the Globe and Mail’s Report On Business for a different angle on what makes Canadian brands successful.

TIP SERIES FOR INDEPENDENT RETAILERS: Build Your Retail Business Using Someone Else’s Dollar

TIP:  Take advantage of a brand’s co-op allowance

Take advantage of Brand Co-op dollars

Many brands don’t verbally offer co-op programs out the gate and quite likely are overspending on the big box accounts that demand it. BUT, if you don’t ask for it, you will not receive anything.

Before you pick up that phone or send out that email request to your favoured brands, there is a catch. Don’t just ask for money and use it for your traditional ads.  Put some serious thought behind the campaign objectives, so that the brand knows you understand their vision and messaging for the season. Prove to them that you really want to grow their brand in your store by being creative in how you are going to bring the campaign to life.  Brands will often give more than the typical co-op percentage if they feel it is going to reap rewards and improve their brand presence on the floor.

Agree to top up the product inventory the week before the campaign starts, to ensure that you will have enough stock to complete the campaign. This shows the brand that you are committed to making the campaign successful.

Once the campaign is completed, follow up with the results to ensure that you will receive more brand dollars next season.

Brick and Mortar Retailers Should Embrace the Smartphone

Independent Retailers need to embrace the smartphone

What is showrooming?
People visiting and using a physical store as a showroom, so they can touch and feel the product, and then go away to  buy on-line.

I have heard this term over and over again by independent retailers who are using it as an excuse for their declining business. In reality, more people actually research on-line first and then go to purchase in-store.

Many independent retailers are scared of the smartphone and what they think that means for them and their business.  In actual fact, knowing that the smartphone is a permanent connection between the retailer and the consumer, they should be embracing it. Smartphones allow an exchange of feedback and conversation with each other.

5 Suggestions on how to use this knowledge to your advantage:

  1. People research product on-line first, so make sure your website is up to date with product information including features, specs and pricing.
  2. Since people look at dealer locators and where to buy product, make sure your website is optimized so that customers can find you in the first place.
  3. Have a newsletter signup bar on your website to help grow your database so that you can keep your customers informed about new arrivals and brand promotions.
  4. Keep your social media accounts up to date and make sure that you respond regularly to people who tweet/chat about you and their in-store experience.
  5. Make it easy for your customers to research product right in your store, with the use of tools such as QR codes and Blippar apps.

These are just a couple ideas that will help keep your customers coming back for more.

Check out these two articles from L2 INC for more insights:
1. Bringing Luxury Customer Service to Mobile
2. Retailers Mostly Fail at Mobile Checkout