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Conversion optimization is an art form, especially with consumers being savvier and less advertising-motivated than ever. Smarter Click has it down, providing an array of engaging conversion optimization tools that help brands turn shoppers and browsers into repeat customers. 

Impact’s Andrea Añez, Director of Strategic Partnerships in EMEA, wanted to know more about how Smarter Click works with its brand partners to drive conversions. She interviewed Smarter Click’s James Boden, Global Commercial Director,  to learn more about their business, their partnerships, and their experiences with the Impact Partnership Cloud.

Andrea: First, can you tell us the basics about how you partner with your clients? What is typical — or is every partnership customized? 

James: Each and every partnership we undertake essentially begins with a consultation on fully understanding the client’s current situation, their upcoming KPIs, identifying opportunities, and finally how we can create a long-term partnership that adds value to their existing marketing efforts.

There’s an abundance of automation present in today’s marketing mix and whilst there’s a rightful reason for that, we ensure that technology is complemented with front-line account management to offer a comprehensive and successful partnership.

Andrea: There seems to be a lot of consumer psychology involved in what you do. How do you know that ideal moment to message a consumer to prevent a bounce or cart abandonment? 

James: These ideal “moments” are first and foremost curated based on how we engage with our partners. Their KPIs and targets will dictate the intent-based campaigns that we assemble in order to capture value at the right ”‘moment.”

This isn’t limited to just a bounce or cart abandonment. As a product offering, we utilize our knowledge of user behavior to not just capture a lost sale, but also to offer recommendations on complementary products, increasing basket value, stock warnings, and many other engagement opportunities. 

We’re also able to provide a much-needed broadcast service for retailers to keep their consumers informed on changes to delivery dates and extenuating circumstances such as the one we find ourselves in today. 

We’re big fans of behavioral science here at Smarter Click, and having studied user intent across millions of on-site journeys over the past seven years, we can anticipate consumer behavior and act accordingly. Consumers are “predictably irrational” — there’s a fantastic book on the subject with the same title that I would recommend anyone to read if they want to understand consumer behaviour in more detail.

Andrea: Your Smarter Codes product has made a big splash already for its ability to help untangle valid and invalid codes and their traffic sources. Why are fake codes such an issue for retailers? 

James: We’ve a few of the team who have spent a considerable amount of tenure in the world of codes, and they’d be quick to tell you that it’s not just an issue for retailers, but also an issue for those publishers who have worked hard to secure exclusives in return for promotion across their savvy shopper databases. 

From a consumer perspective, fake codes quite simply promote a negative user experience and can often result in a negative connotation with the retailer when the expectation of a saving doesn’t come to fruition.

From an industry perspective, fake codes can result in the wrongful attribution of a retailer’s sale to a publisher who has promoted a code that doesn’t exist. This could be overwriting a genuine (and valuable) longtail sale, or a valid publisher’s code promotion. 

From the retailer’s perspective, it’s not just fake codes that are a problem. The retailer’s own CRM codes have been known to find their way into the wrong marketing channels and that can result in reduced ROI and detracted loyalty when exceptional offers are made for only the retailer’s most valuable customers.

Andrea: Can you walk us through how Smarter Codes works and how it helps a brand stop paying commissions on fake codes.

James: Think of Smarter Codes as your voucher and coupon analytics tool. Retailer’s can track every single user session that involves code being used within a purchase and non-purchase journey.

Every single code usage is tied back to a referring publisher or channel so you can quickly and easily spot those that aren’t offering the best positive user flows, and make the desired changes.

Ultimately, Smarter Codes gives you the ability to take complete control of your code ecosystem — both internal CRM and external publisher promotion of your brand’s offers and promotions, ensuring you can understand which publishers are driving you a positive user experience, which ones aren’t, supplying you with the ability to make informed decisions. 

You can also benchmark promotion success and source new longtail publishers that are driving traffic but have the potential to really drive your program’s overall conversion rate and ROI upwards.

Andrea: How does Impact fit into the success of your business?

James:  It’s clear to see that Impact has made a significant impact (pun intended) on the industry in recent years. 

We share an ethos of building and maintaining strong global partnerships. Working with Impact’s knowledgeable and experienced teams across multiple markets has helped us derive success — and long may that continue.

Andrea: What would you say are the biggest advantages you get from the Impact platform?

James: We feel there’s a huge amount of trust in the reporting, and that the platform is slick, easy to navigate, and doesn’t over-engineer where it doesn’t need to. Mobile and app tracking capabilities are sharp, and it feels like a progressive platform that’s constantly evolving.

Andrea: I imagine some of your clients have fared better than others during the pandemic. What trends have you seen in ecommerce and in conversion rate optimization (CRO). Specifically, who’s doing okay and why?

James: Our story on client performance during the pandemic will pretty much mirror that of what’s already been covered over the past few months. The “Home and Garden” vertical saw some quite staggering rises along with retailers that stocked up on PPE. [Note: See Impact’s benchmarks that look at Home and Garden and five more key verticals during 2020 thus far.]

Convenience seemed to be key, with preference being given to those retailers that could deliver within an acceptable time frame considering the circumstances. Agility was key.

Travel naturally took the biggest hit across our client base, however there are signs things are turning around here. It does appear that there’s still restraint as consumers remain unsure how the landscape will look even a couple of months from now.

Andrea: What’s ahead in CRO? Any big trends or priorities on the horizon in your space?

James: Automation continues to be a key focus within CRO land, and that trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. 

If I had to choose a priority, I would say that it’s important that the CRO industry (and even closer to home, exit intent businesses) needs to ensure that we are constantly reducing intrusiveness and instead focusing on quality user journeys. I feel at times this can go overlooked and true value can’t always be measured. This is a big focus for us at Smarter Click.

Andrea: You launched an interesting partnership with GiftCloud last year. Can you tell us what that’s all about? What are some other new or innovative partnerships you have in place?

James: Giftcloud is a great bunch, and they’ve really honed in on a niche that makes them experts in their subject. Our partnership with Giftcloud allows us to offer additional choices to a retailer’s promotional strategies. 

If you want to increase spend, encourage repeat purchases, and offer a complementary, feel-good reward for purchasing with a retailer, then such a partnership like the one we have with Giftcloud can make this happen — and we facilitate this through a seamless user experience on-site, which has already seen great results across multiple advertisers. 

As for other partnerships, we have a few in the pipeline — hopefully we can shout about them soon!

Andrea: What unique perspective or best practice around partnerships would you share to the industry at large?

James: Take the time to really get to know your client’s requirements. Especially in the world of onsite engagement, there’s no “one size fits all” strategy that we’d feel comfortable with executing. 

Yes — there are products out there where you can switch the toggle on and run with an overarching, dare we say invasive, engagement model, but at Smarter Click we are all about driving value to retailers on their terms, with our support to drive the numbers forward.

Are you starting your client conversations with a question about what they’re looking to achieve in the next week, month, quarter, half-year and so on? If not — you should be!

Andrea: Tell us about your experience with partnerships before Impact. How was your experience when you launched with Impact? What are the top 3 benefits you see from the Impact platform?

James: We hold a mixture of hands-on and hands-off relationships with many stakeholders that contribute to a partnership within the industry. This can, at times, be detrimental to the success of the partnership, can slow things down, and the status quo can change within a single meeting. Less certainly can be more when it comes to client planning, but we appreciate this can’t always be the case.

For us the Impact platform provides:

  • Speed and ease of reporting
  • Confidence in tracking capabilities across increasingly important agile mediums
  • A constantly evolving set of tools to enable us to do more

Andrea: Describe your ideal/dream merchant partner? 

James: We dream of merchant partners that have unlimited budgets, clear KPIs and objectives, and a proactive, transparent approach to their marketing efforts. If you don’t already work with us and you share our sentiments (maybe the unlimited budget perk aside!), we’d love to hear from you.

Impact would love to feature your story! If you would like to find out more about the Impact Partner Team or tell your story on our blog, get in touch here.

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