Kunle Campbell – The BigCommerce Blog https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog Ecommerce Blog delivering news, strategy and success stories to power 2x growth for scaling brands. Fri, 15 Jun 2018 16:19:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-e8d7fa0a-3b0e-4069-91b1-78460a4d4af1-150x150.png Kunle Campbell – The BigCommerce Blog https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog 32 32 29 Ecommerce Metrics & KPIs to Measure to Drive 10X Growth in 2018 [Downloadable Key Metrics Included] https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-metrics/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-metrics/#comments Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.bigcommerce.com/ecommerce-blog/?p=6794 The most successful ecommerce and retail businesses are metrics obsessed. SpearmintLOVE got 62.48% of their Facebook Fanbase talking about them…]]>

The most successful ecommerce and retail businesses are metrics obsessed.

Virtually every marketing and business decision in these organizations is guided by data.

After all, if you can’t measure something, you have little chance of improving it.

How to Measure Ecommerce Success

To properly measure ecommerce success, you need to have 3 main goals in mind:

  1. Selecting the right ecommerce key performance indicators (KPIs) and then tracking/measuring their corresponding metrics.
  2. Ensuring that you have an analytics system in place to measure all of these metrics as accurately as possible.
  3. Setting proper benchmarks for your ecommerce KPI list to track success.

This guide is structured to cover the most vital ecommerce metrics at each stage of the sales funnel of an ecommerce business and their customers’ lifecycle.

1. Selecting the right ecommerce KPIs.

To get the right ecommerce KPIs, you have to ask the right questions.

The right questions are based on a few factors:

  • What is your industry?
  • What stage is your business in? Start-up, growth, established?
  • What are your overall business goals for this stage?

These questions, and ones that will inevitably branch off from these, will help you discover the metrics that make the most sense for your company and its specific goals.

Tracking and measuring the right KPIs can improve your business and marketing decisions.

Identifying one main metric (OMM), per Lean Analytics, and choosing 3-7 supporting metrics that guide you toward your OMM is a beneficial approach.

This helps you avoid decision paralysis from too much information.

A few example ecommerce KPIs to consider as your OMM are:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): The estimated amount of total purchases a customer will make with your business over the lifetime they are with your brand.
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): This is the amount you pay for a customer acquisition (lead or sale, this is defined by you) based on your marketing efforts.
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This your revenue generated from your marketing efforts divided by your marketing costs.
  • Value-per-Visit: This is total website revenue divided by total website visits, and is helpful in measuring the effectiveness your various marketing channels.

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2. Proper analytics tracking.

Google Analytics is the go-to tool for tracking website performance. This is true for ecommerce sites as well.

To set up Google Analytics tracking on your site,  copy your Google Analytics ecommerce tracking code found in Admin > View > Ecommerce Settings.

You may need to Enable Ecommerce, however leave Enhanced Ecommerce Settings to OFF.

Copy the ecommerce tracking code, then go to:

  • Step 1: Advanced Settings > Web Analytics in BigCommerce’s Control Panel
  • Step 2: Select Google Analytics and Save

ecommerce metrics: bigcommerce control panel google analytics

  • Step 3: Go to the Google Analytics Tab
  • Step 4: Paste your copied code in the Tracking Code field.

If you want more tailored ecommerce KPI data, set up your data tracking with Google Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager allows your non-technical marketing team or agency to easily setup data collection without logging into your BigCommerce store or messing with your website code.

This means your store and code are safe from errors and you can collect specific KPIs important to your business in Google Analytics.

BigCommerce also allows you to connect your store to your Facebook page. This is beneficial for retail sellers because you can track orders in BigCommerce’s control panel.

Understanding how sales are performing in Facebook, you can accurately calculate your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and make the necessary marketing adjustments.

3. Setting up proper benchmarks for your ecommerce KPI list.

Benchmarks are vital to your business’ growth.

They provide insight into what is working, what isn’t, and your growth rate for your KPIs.

You can benchmark your key metrics in six easy steps.

How To Set Ecommerce Benchmarks:
  • Step 1: Determine your long term goals.
  • Step 2: Determine how your site is currently performing.
  • Step 3: Identify which areas you’ll focus on for measurement.
  • Step 4: Determine the correct metrics and KPIs to track success.
  • Step 5: Set your benchmarking schedule.
  • Step 6: Work, measure, adjust, repeat.

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Understanding the Customer Stages

customer sales funnel

Customers have different intents as they move through your buying cycle.

Understanding their intent in each phase will help you select the right key metrics to measure and grow your business.

1. Product Discovery.

In the brand discovery stage of the funnel, the focus of all your marketing efforts is really on generating awareness and stimulating the realization of a want of your brand/product(s) in the market you target.

The key question the metrics you track will answer in this stage is:

How many people have come across our brand or the line of products we sell?

In other words, you are tracking brand awareness, impressions, and eyeballs.

One caveat here is the assumption that your marketing is focused on your target audience.

If it isn’t and there is no deliberate targeting in your marketing. This is a vanity metric.

2. Consideration.

Marketing in the consideration stage of the funnel is focused on convincing potential and existing customers to engage with your brand, with the end goal of potentially purchasing your product(s).

The key question at this stage you want your metrics to answer is:

What portion of people that have come across our brand are engaging with our brand?

This is where you should be tracking and analyzing metrics related to inbound traffic to your store, email, and social media engagement.

3. Revenue/Conversions.

At the conversion stage of your funnel, you need to track and analyze actions that typically lead to a sale (micro-conversions) as well as establish standard metrics like revenue, transactions, and conversion rates (CVR).

Online retailers can take this to the next level by diving into rich user data that lets ecommerce businesses track more advanced KPIs at a behavioral level.

For example, transactions are expected to be made by the highest engaging customers and visitors to your site.

Understanding the these metrics and KPIs will help you make better sense of your sales and revenue data — and help you spot trends to convert more visitors into buyers.

4. Retention.

Repeat business is a critical pillar to growing and scaling an online retail business.

According to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention rate will result in a 25% to 95% increase in profits.

A repeat customer can provide a ton of value to a business. Measuring customer retention should form the starting point to understanding and improving customer loyalty.

5. Advocacy.

The advocacy stage analyzes word of mouth and referral marketing stats.

Having existing customers recommend your ecommerce brand to their family and friends can be a low cost, yet highly effective means of acquiring new customers.

User generated content is a great way to allow your customers to advocate for your brand. This can be done through video and photo content or leaving reviews.

Mountain Crest Gardens has implemented user generated content and reviews into their marketing efforts which helped them compete online and improve their orders by 400%.

On the average Facebook post that features one of our customer photos, we see high organic engagements: 100+ likes, a handful of shares, and 3,000+ reached. It’s effortless organic marketing for us – and the sales keep rolling in.

– Matts Jopson, Vice President, Mountain Crest Gardens

In other words, engage with your customer base seeking honest feedback and showcase how they engage with your products.

This kind of social proof is more valuable to new customers.

Better Decision Making Made Easy

Fast-scaling businesses use metrics dashboards to guide their meetings and decision making – taking gut preference out of the process in favor of data driven results. 

Use this dashboard to see the same results for your brand. 

Get your free template now.

29 Metrics to Help Grow Your Online Business

There are innumerable metrics your brand can measure to evaluate success.

But, you also must weigh your time spent as part of the equation when determining if these are the proper business KPIs to focus on.

You can’t measure inactivity, and staring at a dashboard all day gets nothing done.

Here is an overview of important metrics to consider measuring that can help grow your online business.

  1. Your brand’s online visibility.
  2. Online and offline impressions.
  3. Facebook & Instagram’s ‘reach’ metric.
  4. YouTube and other video hosting platform impressions.
  5. Google AdWords and Bing ad impressions.
  6. Organic impressions via Google Search Console.
  7. Influencers and partner reach.
  8. TV, Podcast and media advertising reach.
  9. Onsite traffic metrics.
  10. Organic traffic metrics.
  11. Email engagement metrics.
  12. Social media engagement metrics.
  13. Number of online transactions.
  14. Average order value (AOV) of customers.
  15. Ecommerce micro-conversions.
  16. Micro to macro conversion ratio.
  17. More specific sales data.
  18. Number of visits to sale.
  19. Sales conversion rates.
  20. Analyze micro conversions.
  21. Shopping cart abandonment rate.
  22. CPA or Cost Per Acquisition.
  23. Average order size.
  24. Percentage of mobile visits.
  25. Ecommerce purchase metrics.
  26. Average customer lifetime value.
  27. Ecommerce churn rate.
  28. Net promoter score.
  29. Track product and seller reviews.

1. Your brand’s online visibility (product discovery KPI).

This is, in my opinion,  the most important marketing metric to track from day 1 and then all through the lifespan of your business.

The reason is simple:

People searching for your brand are more likely to either convert as customers or are returning customers.

This is because they are aware of your brand and intend to engage with you when they are looking for you.

To accurately track this metric, use the following sources to capture brand name search volume:

  • Google AdWords: create a brand name search campaign and track impressions (not clicks) for phrase and exact match terms. The only drawback to this method is that you need to have a budget for Google AdWords. If you do have a budget, it is in my opinion the most accurate means of tracking brand name search (at least via Google).
  • Google Search Console: check the search analytics report in Google Search Console under:
    • Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Queries
    • The check the ‘Impressions’ checkbox.
    • Do this once a month and remember to change the date cohort to a full month.
  • Google Keyword Planner: run a search for your brand name on Google keyword planner on a monthly basis.
    • If brand name search is on an upward trend, then your marketing just might be working. You are definitely reaching more people.

You should also try and map specific publicity campaigns with brand name searches.

As an example, if you engaged with a group of influencers over a specific month, you may want to backtrack on brand name search during the month of the campaign to see if there was any lift.

You can organize this effectively well in Google Analytics via Custom Channel Grouping.

Example of Google’s Default Channel Organization.

default channel groupings

Example Custom Channel Organization in Google Analytics.

custom channel groupings

2. Online and offline impressions (product discovery KPI).

All advertising platforms you utilize will provide metrics on impressions (or cost-per-impression), i.e. the number of times your ads are served to their audience.

Here is a brief list of channels and the key impression metrics.

3. Facebook & Instagram’s ‘reach’ metric (product discovery KPI).

Facebook measures unique impressions with the ‘reach’ metric.

Facebook’s reach metric is the number of people that have seen your ads at least once.

The key point to note here is that the reach metric is different from impressions, which may include multiple views of your ads by the same people.

Other Facebook metrics related to impressions you want to pay attention to are:

  • Cost per 1,000 people reached: The average cost to reach 1,000 people.
  • Impressions: The number of times your ads were viewed.
  • CPM (Cost per 1,000 Impression): The average cost for 1,000 impressions.
  • Frequency: The average number of times each person saw your ad.

Note that the above is for paid Facebook advertising.

In order to track total number of people that have generated impressions in both organic and paid Facebook posts, use the reach metric in the Facebook Insights report.

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4. YouTube and other video hosting platform impressions (product discovery KPI).

The YouTube impression metric you want to pay attention to is ‘Views.’

This will apply to all other video hosting platforms that you actively market on such as Facebook videos or Vimeo.

Also ensure that you understand the time duration a video is watched in order to be classified as a view on across all platforms.

YouTube’s video metrics classifies a video that has been watched for 30 seconds or more as a view, while Facebook classifies a video view as 3 seconds or more.

5. Google AdWords and Bing ad impressions (product discovery KPI).

In AdWords and Bing Ads, you want to pay attention to the ‘Impressions’ metric, which is the number of times your ads are shown on search result pages or the display network on both platforms.

In AdWords, pay attention to the following metrics:

  • Search Impression Share: Your impression share strictly for impressions generated through the Search Network
  • Display Impression Share: Your impression share strictly for impressions generated through the Display Network.

6. Organic impressions via Google Search Console (product discovery KPI).

Pay attention to the ‘Total Impressions’ metric on Google search console on a monthly basis.

It gives you an idea on the number of times your website was served as a result on Google’s organic search result, serving as a good KPI for overall reach.

If your reach far outweighs your traffic, it’s time to think about revising your title structure to encourage more click through.

I also track the ‘Average Position’ metric on a monthly basis.

7. Influencers and partner reach (product discovery KPI).

When reaching out to potential media partners and influencers, you will need to better understand their audience reach and readership numbers (for bloggers).

Ask for details about the number of:

  • Monthly readers (total and organic).
  • As well as the size of their email list.

On your own, research their social media followings and how engaged their audiences are across platforms.

For instance, they may have a large Twitter following, but they don’t get many retweets. It may be better to leverage your partnership through their Instagram platform, instead.

8. TV, Podcast, and media advertising reach (product discovery KPI).

If you advertise on TV, want to sponsor a podcast or media, you will negotiate on the basis of the ‘Reach’ metric, i.e. how many people are likely going to view your commercial.

Remember that relevancy is just as important (if not more important) than reach.

9. Onsite traffic metrics (consideration KPI).

These are the most important on-site traffic key performance indicators you should measure on a monthly basis.

These metrics (plus many others!) can be found in Google Analytics, the easiest way to establish measurement on your website.

There are many other great web analytics tools out there that offer comparable metrics, though these other platforms sometimes call them by different names. For example, Sessions in Google Analytics goes by Visits in other platforms.

  • Sessions: When tracking website sessions, remember that a single user can open multiple sessions on various devices or browsers. Sessions typically end after 30 minutes of inactivity. All interactions by a visitor on your website within a given timeframe such as page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions will register as a single session.
  • Users: In Google Analytics, the Users metric does not necessarily equate to individual users or people. It is actually a cookie set by each visitor’s browser. So, if a customer of yours logged in from her phone and then her desktop computer, each session will register as two users. The walk-around to this anomaly is setting up Session Unification by integrating logged in user data with Google Analytics.
  • Pages/Session: The ‘pages/session’ metric is the average number of pages viewed per session.
  • Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits (or web sessions).
  • Average Session Duration: Average session duration is total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions.  You want to track this metric alongside bounce rate to understand how engaging your store it. You also want to use segments such as new visitors vs returning visitors.
  • New Users: A visitor who did not have Google Analytics cookies when they hit the first page in this visit. If a visitor deletes their cookies and comes back to the site, the visitor will be counted as a new visitor.

10. Organic traffic metrics (consideration KPI). 

If a significant amount of inbound traffic to your ecommerce store comes from Google, then you should be tracking these Google Search Console metrics on a monthly basis.

  • Clicks: Total count of clicks from Google search results pages (SERPs) to your website. Track it alongside the Impressions metric and compare with Google Analytics metrics such as Sessions and Unique Pageviews.
  • Average CTR: Average click-through rate is the click count divided by the impression count. Use it to gauge how well your title tags and meta descriptions tags drive searches on Google to your site.  A significant discrepancy indicates the opportunity to optimize for click-through.
  • Avg. Position: This is average ranking of your website’s URLs for the Google search queries.

I track all of the above metrics on a monthly basis to better understand the direction each store I manage is headed, traffic and engagement-wise.

11. Email engagement metrics (consideration KPI).

These are the top six email engagement KPIs for ecommerce sites that your email marketing team should report to you on a monthly basis.

  • Email list growth rate: This is the rate at which your email list is growing. It is calculated by your total number of new subscribers minus unsubscribers, divided by the total number of email address on your list.
  • Email bounce rate: This is the percentage of undelivered emails from your total emails sent that could not be successfully delivered to the recipient’s inbox.
  • Open rate: This is the percentage of email recipients who open a given email. It is worth noting that while open rate is an important metric, you should also focus on optimizing click-through rates.
  • Email click-through rate: This is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on links in emails. It is calculated by:(Total clicks OR unique clicks ÷ Number of delivered emails) * 100. For example: 1,500 total clicks ÷ 75,000 delivered emails * 100 = 2% click through rate.
  • Email Conversion Rate: This is the portion of email recipients that completed a purchase after clicking through links in your email campaigns. It is calculated by:  (Number of sales from emails ÷ Number of total emails delivered) * 100. For example: 800 sales ÷ 75,000 total email delivered * 100 = 1% conversion rate
  • Unsubscribes: Checking your monthly unsubscribe rate is helpful for calculating your overall list growth rate. You should also track unengaged subscribers alongside Unsubscribes and consider removing them from your list.

12. Social media engagement metrics (consideration KPI).

Social media metrics can provide a lot of value to your ecommerce company. These are the top social media engagement KPIs you should track on a regular basis:

  • Likes per post: “Likes” is a catch-all metric I am using for people that have upvoted your social media posts. These will come in the form of Likes, thumbs ups, favorites or +1’s. To calculate it, you will need to collate likes on each social media platform and divide it by the number of posts on the individual platform.
  • Shares per post: “Shares” is a catch-all metric for “shares,” “retweets” and “repins.” This metric is indicative of the average number of times posts are shared over a given amount of time.
  • Comments per post: “Comments” is a catch-all metric for mentions and comments to your social media posts. This metric is a gauge of how much of a community your brand is garnering on social media.
  • Clicks per post: The clicks per post metric measures link click-throughs from social media posts over a given period of time. To calculate this metric, collate the number of clicks from your social media posts over a specific period (typically over a month) and then divide it by the number of published social media posts over the same time period.

13. Number of online transactions (conversion KPI).

Tracking the actual number of transactions, not just total revenue, is important for calculating AOV (3d, below) and understanding how customers interact with your online store.

14. Average order value (AOV) of customers (conversion KPI).

This is total sales divided by the number of transactions.

If you have a wide category of products it might be worth going deeper on this metric by better understanding the average order value in each category.

Monitoring this on a monthly basis will help you understand and even influence trends.

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15. Ecommerce micro-conversions (conversion KPI).

Micro conversions are predetermined steps that typically occur before a sale. Here are two of the most popular types of micro-conversions:

  1. Email collection: Via on-site subscription boxes or behavioral triggered pop ups
  2. Ordering samples: This is particularly common with voluminous products such as furniture (fabric samples) or flooring (material samples).

In Google Analytics and other web data platforms, you can set conversion goals to measure both micro and macro conversions.

16. Micro to macro conversion ratio (conversion KPI).

Ecommerce teams should track the relationship between micro conversions to macro conversions (sales/revenue).

Using an online furniture retailer that sells sofas as an example, let’s say they are able to, on average, convert 40 out of every 100 shoppers that request a fabric sample for sofas they sell.

They will be able to target their efforts into either increasing overall fabric sample requests or improving the sample-to-order ratio.

The latter could be accomplished by testing and optimizing email communications to visitors who have requested a sample.

17. More specific sales data (conversion KPI).

Since the total amount of revenue generated is very obvious, you need to go deeper on sales data by digging into:

  • Sales totals generated by channel, e.g. search, social media channels, email, direct, referrals, TV
  • Sales totals for each category in your product catalog
  • Sales generated by each promo code

18. Number of visits to sale (conversion KPI).

You will want to set a quarterly or biannual benchmark on how many visits it takes on average for new customers to make their first purchase.

19. Sales conversion rates (conversion KPI).

This is the total number of sales divided by the total number of sessions to your store.

Understanding this number is critical to determining how much traffic is required to generating your target sales.

That said, just like your sales data, you need to more granularly understand conversion rates.

Here are key ways to dissect your conversion rate metric:

  • Set conversion rate by channel: e.g. AdWords, SEO, Facebook, etc
  • Set conversion rate by category of products: Some categories may have higher conversions that others
  • Set conversion rate by campaign: As an example, if you are working with affiliates or influencers

Lindsey Reis, Marketing Manager, The Mountain

“We often reference our analytics to collect data on sales numbers, orders placed, and units sold.

We also frequently export our sales by item report. The large amount of SKUs we have requires us to constantly check our highest-selling products.

Using these insights, we are then able to make informed choices about merchandizing, prioritizing products that aligns with top-performing campaigns and best sellers.”

20. Analyze micro conversions (conversion KPI).

Micro conversions, the steps that typically occur before a sale, are critical in the buying funnel for many businesses.

Calculate conversion rates for micro conversions by dividing the total number of the specific micro conversion (their goal completions in Google Analytics) by sessions and multiplying the value by 100.

This way, you know what kind of micro conversions to expect with a varying volumes of traffic.

It is also a leading indicator of cart abandonment on your site, which is a low hanging fruit for many online retailers.

conversion rate equation

21. Shopping cart abandonment rate (conversion KPI).

When your conversion rate is low, you need to understand how many visitors had an inclination to buy.

To do this, you’ll want to examine your store’s cart abandonment.

bigcommerce abandoned carts report 01

bigcommerce abandoned carts report 02

The above is how it looks out-of-the-box on BigCommerce. Your chosen ESP should also provide abandoned cart email follow up analytics.

This metric indicates the percentage of visitors who added products to their shopping cart but did not complete the checkout process.

The lower your cart abandonment rate, the better.

As a quick example, your shopping cart abandonment is 75% if 75 out of 100 visitors with a cart leave without buying.

Cart abandonment is the closest you come to earning real customers before they leave your site. Adding to the cart typically indicates an intent to purchase.

The fact that they leave without buying means you lost potential customers. It gets especially bad if you paid a lot of money to get these visitors to your store.

Making sure your cart abandonment is low is key to improving your conversion rate.

Use BigCommerce’s Abandoned Cart Calculator to see how much revenue you could be earning back.

22. CPA or Cost Per Acquisition (conversion KPI).

CPA is a critical marketing and business metric, informing your bottom line and helping to measure the effectiveness of your paid media efforts.

Studying CPA by channel helps you understand what channels and campaigns to invest more budget and time into, and determine the poorest performing channels that should be scaled back or discontinued.

Startup ecommerce businesses need a monthly CPA dashboard as a matter of survival, and to wisely spend limited marketing budgets.

You should measure CPA two ways:

  1. Direct sales conversions from a channel i.e. based on a last (click) interaction
  2. Assisted conversions based on a chain of multiple visits that eventually led to sale

I will also total up both to quantify the value of a specific channel.

I look at the CPA numbers and make hard decisions to either stop marketing or optimize campaigns on channels that are deemed unaffordable due to their high CPA.

23. Average order size (conversion KPI).

You know what the value of a visitor is, but what about the value of an average sale?

Divide the revenue by the number of transactions and you’ll understand how much each customer delivers to the bottom line.

Looking to boost your average order size? Consider offering free shipping at a certain dollar amount or volume discounts.

24. Percentage of mobile visits (conversion KPI).

If your website isn’t optimized for mobile or if you’re not tracking traffic from your mobile site, you’re in trouble.

Mobile growth continues to explode (as shown by ecommerce trends).

25. Ecommerce purchase metrics (retention KPI).

Here are the key loyalty metrics that you can use as primary KPIs to evaluate how your business retains customers:

  • Repeat purchases rate: This key metric shows the portion of repeat customers from your overall customer base. It is a primary retention marketing metric and is calculated by dividing the total number of customers that have purchased more than once by total number of customers.
  • Purchase frequency: This is the proportion of customers that have shopped more than once over a specified period of time. While the repeat purchase rate looks at repeat purchases over a lifetime, it is important to base the purchase frequency metric over a period of time, which will be typically 12 months.
  • Order gap analysis: This metric shows the average time lapse between two purchases from a single customer.  It helps inform email marketing automation efforts so that you automatically remind customers to repurchase. Time between purchases will vary across retail verticals.  It is calculated by dividing 365 by your purchase frequency metric. The output would be an average number of days between purchases.

26. Average customer lifetime value (retention KPI).

Customer lifetime value (CLV, CLTV, LTV or LCV) is the expected revenue generated by future sales interactions with a customer.

Customer Lifetime Value is cornerstone metric in retention marketing. It is simply the average total amount spent by each customer over their lifetime.

It is so important because it determines how much you can potentially spend to acquire new customers.

As a rule of the thumb: Average Customer Lifetime Value >  Average Customer Acquisition Cost

There are three key performance indicators required to arrive at the average customer lifetime value metric:

  1. Average order value
  2. Purchase frequency
  3. Time period (this is variable and dependent on your business)

What question most ecommerce marketers ask is:

“How long will customers shop with us?”

On average, you might be looking at three years, but it will be best to assess this on a case by case basis.

27. Ecommerce churn rate (retention KPI).

If your LTV is low, it could be that many of your customers buy once and never return.

This is measured by what is referred to as “churn.”

Churn is the percentage of your customers who do not come back to your site.

The lower the churn, the better. For example, a churn rate of 80% means 80 out of 100 customers do not come back to buy from your store.

As we have seen, to ensure a high profit, it’s important to influence your customers to keep coming back to purchase.

That means you want your churn to be low so that once you acquire a customer, they continue to come back and purchase again and again.

Lower churn means higher LTV and a healthier business overall.

Use RJMetrics’ easy to use calculator to determine your customer lifetime value.

28. Net promoter score (advocacy KPI).

net promoter score

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a very simple survey that measures how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to a friend.

It is sent out to a representative sample of your customer-base and asks them how likely they will recommend your brand on a 1 – 10 scale (with 10 meaning highly likely to recommend).

  • people who give a 9 or 10 score are called promoters;
  • those who score 7 or 8 are neutral; and
  • everyone else is a detractor.

Your goal is to make your average NPS across all customers as high as possible. It’s an ongoing measure of how well your customer referral program will perform.

29. Track product and seller reviews (advocacy KPI).

One other very important customer satisfaction gauge is seller reviews and in-store product reviews. These should be tracked and segmented monthly.

Alerts should be set for average and below average reviews with immediate follow up by your customer experience team.

Executive Summary

Having all of the above key metrics on a single spreadsheet that is not only updated on a monthly basis but is the subject of regularly run strategic team meetings is an effective means of running a data driven ecommerce business.

You will at a glimpse be able to view your entire marketing performance and know exactly what areas require more attention.

Better Decision Making Made Easy

Fast-scaling businesses use metrics dashboards to guide their meetings and decision making – taking gut preference out of the process in favor of data driven results. 

Use this dashboard to see the same results for your brand. 

Get your free template now.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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Did Coca-Cola create the modern day Santa Claus?

Is Mr. Potato Head responsible for reshaping holiday TV advertising?

How did a single advertising campaign raise over $40 million to fund children’s vaccines?

It’s that time of year — the holiday season is approaching us, and fast! It’s the time for making your holiday email lists and checking them twice.

For those in the retail, ecommerce and marketing world, we have already begun strategizing and executing Cyber Week and holiday marketing campaigns.

In fact, this year, 37.52% of online brands reported that they began holiday planning 1-4 months earlier than last year.  

Of course, as you might expect, the holidays feel a little different this year. In 2017, social commerce and true omnichannel expansion began to drive 3x in revenue for brands taking advantage of it.

Top Ecommerce Sales Channels for 2017 Holidays

Here’s the breakdown of where brands expect to make their sales this holiday season:

And here is a breakdown of the advertising channels brands expect to make them the most money:

No matter which channels you use, for many brands (and likely even you), the holiday season (specifically Cyber Five, Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) is a make or break time.

The promotions you use, the speed your site loads, which payment options customers use the most: all of this will help you understand exactly what to do more of (or not ever again!) in 2018.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single season!

Whenever I am looking for inspiration during a stressful time, I always dive deep into the fundamentals and see what the most successful brands have done in the past.

This is exactly what we have done at BigCommerce with our partner, PayPal: researched the most iconic holiday marketing campaigns, so you can create a legacy holiday tradition that brings you customers beyond 2017.

In the infographic below, you’ll get a snapshot of the last 150 years of these memorable holiday retail marketing campaigns from some of the world’s most well-known brands.

Top Holiday Marketing Campaigns in History

  1. Macy’s Holiday Window Campaign
  2. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  3. Coca-Cola Invents the Father of Christmas
  4. Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
  5. Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  6. Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
  7. Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised
  8. NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
  9. Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation
  10. Kentucky for Christmas! Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
  11. Folgers Advertises the Intangible
  12. Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy Ad Agency of Record
  13. Coca-Cola’s Sledding Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming
  14. Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
  15. M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing
  16. Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
  17. Target’s Black Friday Catalog Focuses on Price
  18. Pampers’ “Silent Night” Raises $40 Million
  19. Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress
  20. John Lewis Focuses on Storytelling Over Brand
  21. Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools
  22. American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
  23. Apple Makes Technology and Family a Priority
  24. REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition

From here, we’ll take you on a journey through time, where you’ll learn more about the backstory — and actionable learnings — behind each of these brand-building initiatives.


Did Modern Holiday Shopping Begin in the 1800s?

Before we dig into the most memorable campaigns in holiday retail history, let’s briefly review where we started.

The popularity and commercialization of Christmas is often depicted as a recent phenomenon, but it actually began in the 1800s:

  • In the 1840s, Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s German husband) popularized the Christmas tree in England, when he put one up Windsor Castle.
  • In 1843, Charles Dickens published the now classic book “The Christmas Carol,” in which he encouraged rich Victorians to redistribute their wealth by giving money and gifts to the poor.
  • By 1870, Macy’s hired their first Santa Claus to bring the newfound Christmas cheer across the pond, followed closely by the first electrically illuminated Christmas trees arriving in 1882.
  • In 1879, British stores began dedicating areas to ‘Santa Land’ where customers could wander around immersed in Christmas scenery.

Fast-forward to the 1900s and we discover that retail brands intelligently and very purposefully created some of the most unforgettable characters and imagery of the holiday season.

Some of the questions we were confronted with along the way include:

You can explore each stop on our time machine through our chaptered guide. Let’s dive in! 

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How Coca-Cola Invented The Father of Christmas (Or did they?) https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/how-coca-cola-used-santa/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/how-coca-cola-used-santa/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 23:07:18 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17605 Photo: Coca-Cola History has offered many representations of Father Christmas, who has appeared in a range of clothing and colors…]]>

did coca cola invent santa?

Photo: Coca-Cola

History has offered many representations of Father Christmas, who has appeared in a range of clothing and colors over time. Perhaps the most famous portrayal, however, is that of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a 4th Century bishop depicted in familiar red robes.

The popular myth that Father Christmas owes his appearance to Coca-Cola –– the portly stature, bushy beard and red outfit –– is not entirely accurate. Rather, the Santa Claus image you recognize today was the image portrayed by Haddon Sundblom for Santa’s first appearance in Cola advertising in 1931, drawing inspiration from Saint Nicholas’ image.

Indeed, of the many contemporary portrayals of Father Christmas, Coca-Cola conveniently selected –– as opposed to invented –– the image we know today.

Of course, this imagery conveniently matched their own famously colored branding.

Cola’s campaign has evolved over time, showing Santa in a range of scenarios which any customer might find familiar:

  • ‘Me too’ in 1936 was Santa in the Great Depression
  • ‘Give and take, say I’ showed children leaving out Cokes for him at night in 1937
  • In 1961, Santa attempts to hush the family dog in ‘When friends drop in.’

Part of the campaign’s success is in engaging Santa in recognizable scenes. Customers’ reactions and traditions have followed. After 1937, children started leaving out Coke at night, while after another campaign showed Santa without a wedding ring, concerned fans wrote to Coca-Cola asking where Mrs. Claus had gone.

In adopting such a quintessential seasonal character, Coca-Cola can safely repeat their campaign each year. People expect to see Santa and, much like his wedding ring, would likely now question if he failed to make an appearance on Cola’s behalf.

While the red and white branding similarities are largely fortuitous for Coke, there can be little doubt that this has helped seal the association between the brand and Santa in people’s minds.

Providing Santa's Beverage of Choice

As someone who loves and studies the history of advertising, very few brands have had as big of an impact on culture as Coca Cola.

While the brand’s product offering has very little to do with Christmas, their focus on Santa when they were still early in brand development was a huge win for their brand.

Many of the early Coca Cola ads featured Santa surrounded by kids and a Coca Cola in his hand.

– Ross Simmonds, Founder, Foundation Marketing

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Is there is a well-known seasonal character whose features already match some of your branding? If “yes,” capitalize on this to build long-lasting associations in consumers’ minds.

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/1920s-macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-marketing/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/1920s-macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-marketing/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 23:03:23 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17604 In 1924, Macy’s welcomed the world’s largest department store with their first parade in New York City. Although held on the…]]>

In 1924, Macy’s welcomed the world’s largest department store with their first parade in New York City.

Although held on the morning of Thanksgiving, it was presented as a Christmas parade with floats featuring favorite nursery-rhyme characters, matching the theme of their window display that year.

Macy’s employees dressed up and marched alongside animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo, leading a giant Santa Claus for 6 miles from Harlem to the store at Herald Square.

The parade is now in its 90th year and has become something of an institution, with more than 3.5 million New Yorkers lining the route annually.

Enormous helium balloons debuted in 1927 to replace the zoo animals, which, unsurprisingly, proved challenging to handle out in the city. These balloons have become a signature of the parade and each year a different character is revealed, from Superman to Donald Duck.

Further innovations have been introduced over time, including themed floats first appearing in 1971 and Broadway performances first debuting in 1980.

The Macy’s parade is a spectacle to be enjoyed by all, although there is clear focus on marketing to children, who take delight in the giant animals and familiar cartoon characters leading them (and, more importantly, their parents) through the city to Macy’s flagship store.

Now known as the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” the success of this event is demonstrated by making Thanksgiving and Macy’s synonymous for the people of New York and all those enjoying the show at home as well.

Consistency is Key

Macy’s is one of the best at holiday marketing campaigns. They’ve been consistent with their parade since 1920!

– Mike Wittenstein, Founder + CEO, StoryMiners

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Macy’s parade is nothing less than a spectacle. Creating a large and ostentatious holiday campaign is one sure way of reaching a wide audience and generating chatter around your brand.

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The Genesis of Holiday Window Displays https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/holiday-window-retail-displays/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/holiday-window-retail-displays/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 22:56:18 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17600 The holiday season in major cities around the world is typically heralded by seasonal window retail displays put up by…]]>

The holiday season in major cities around the world is typically heralded by seasonal window retail displays put up by department stores and retailers large and small.

We can trace their beginnings back to the industrial revolution.

The widespread availability of plate glass in the late 1800s allowed shop owners to build large windows spanning the full lengths of their shops for the display of merchandise.

This is when the notion of window-shopping was born.

holiday retail display

Photo: Library of Congress

One of the first major holiday window displays was put up by Macy’s New York store in 1874. It featured a collection of porcelain dolls and scenes from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

It was not until the early 1900s that competition for grabbing the attention of customers intensified among the largest retailers in three major cities in the United States –– New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Store owners and managers used window displays to lure window shoppers into their stores; and over the holidays the display were a lot more colorful and creative.

By 1914 Saks was stirring public intrigue at their flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York with the emergence of ‘unveiling events’ for their display window.

Hydraulic lifts beneath the windows allowed teams of artisans to work on new designs out of public view.

But it was Lord & Taylor that really pioneered this effort when, in 1938, the owners eschewed the traditional method of presenting store merchandise in favor of a purely decorative display of gilded bells that swung in sync with the sounds of recorded bells.

holiday window display

Photo: Ricky Zehavi, Architectural Digest

This represents the full transition from windows being used to display products to those intended solely as a marvel to draw people to the store and generate interest and discussion. It was a physical version of what John Lewis and others would later do, using advertisements as an anticipated event in themselves without including products.

Competition for shopper attention has continuously intensified, and retailers have correspondingly adapted. Window displays appeal to consumers on a number of more unique levels in comparison to TV or online advertisements.

Being physical, a grand display is much more of a marvel than something viewed through another medium. Further, by requiring customers to visit the store to view the window, these displays actively engage the audience.

Over the decades department stores have teamed up with designers, artists and other companies such as for Bergdorf’s 2015 display created with Swarovski. With the capacity for grandiosity and innovation driven by competition, grand window displays can be repeated annually without losing their impact.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Create something spectacular that your customers have to enjoy by coming to your store in person.

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Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/norelco-popularizes-stop-motion-animation/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/norelco-popularizes-stop-motion-animation/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:21:34 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17621 When Norelco began using animated advertisements to sell their electric shavers and other personal grooming products in the 1960s, animation…]]>

When Norelco began using animated advertisements to sell their electric shavers and other personal grooming products in the 1960s, animation as a media form was neither particularly advanced, nor appeared regularly on television.

Into the 1970s, however, Norelco’s Christmas spots became one of the indications that the holiday season had truly arrived.

Famously featuring Santa Claus sledding on an upturned razor attachment, Norelco not only produced an advertisement which would be familiar for decades to come, but pioneered one of the earliest uses of animation to market to adults.

They did so partly by employing some of the most advanced animation at the time.

In fact, the ads were so successful that, when they aired during animated Rankin/Bass programs, viewers were often unsure as to what was a formed part of the show and what was merely advertising.

norelco holiday campaign shaving advertisement

Photo Source

Once established, later versions of the ad focused less on Santa’s journey and spent more time displaying products to customers. By then, of course, the format of the advertisement was instantly recognizable and associated with the Norelco brand.

In more recent years, the ad has been developed to incorporate newer animation technologies such as CGI, retaining its familiar structure and commitment to quality animation.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Be the first to create quality content using new technologies and new media. Today, augmented reality. Tomorrow…?

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NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/norad-tracks-santas-journey-around-world/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/norad-tracks-santas-journey-around-world/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:03:23 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17619 Photo: Wikipedia Legend has it that in December 1955, a young girl misdialed a telephone number only to be put…]]>

norad tracking santa holiday marketing

Photo: Wikipedia

Legend has it that in December 1955, a young girl misdialed a telephone number only to be put through to the ‘red phone’ at Continental Air Defense Command (CONRAD). A Colonel Shoup, who purportedly answered the phone, is reported to have confirmed his identity as Santa Claus and thanked the girl for leaving treats for his reindeer.

How much of the legend is elaboration is not clear. However, since 1955 NORAD (the successor to CONRAD) has maintained an annual campaign of tracking Santa Claus and informing the public of his progress on Christmas Eve.

Colonel Shoup was inspired to use the event as a public relations exercise for NORAD, publicizing the cutting-edge abilities of the organization. In part, this would bring an organization which received little public attention to the forefront of people’s minds and the media.

The campaign demonstrates the effective use of multiple forms of media for delivering a single campaign, and to date, telephone hotlines, newspapers, radio, phonograph, television and the internet have all been employed to inform people where Santa is.

Today, CGI videos of Santa progressing on his journey are uploaded online. These were accompanied by voice-over until 2011, typically recorded by NORAD staff, but often featuring celebrity guests such as Jonathan Ross, Ringo Starr and Aaron Carter.

The appeal of the campaign for children is obvious. For adults, however, the project invites people to partake in the fiction –– offering anybody the opportunity to engage in a small fantasy, tracking Santa live as he makes his journey around the world.

It is also an interactive campaign; participants can telephone for updates or follow progress ‘live’ online.

Today, more than 1,200 NORAD staff volunteer their own time to answer the dedicated tracking telephone number, and with over one hundred thousand calls and some 20 million visits to the online tracker in 2014 alone, this seasonal tradition remains highly popular today.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

If NORAD can track Santa Claus, why not boost your company image and engage your audience with some light-hearted (and data-driven) fun?

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Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/kfc-christmas-japan/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/kfc-christmas-japan/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:49:33 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17623 A group of visitors during the holiday season in the 1970s discovered that finding turkey in Japan was extremely difficult.…]]>

A group of visitors during the holiday season in the 1970s discovered that finding turkey in Japan was extremely difficult. Instead, they opted for a fried chicken Christmas dinner.

KFC capitalized on this opportunity and began serving chicken dinners at Christmas in 1974 under the promotion ‘Kentucky for Christmas.’

The campaign itself was clear, avoiding the traditional hallmarks of Christmas as recognized in the West, and instead delivering a simple message that ‘at Christmas, you eat chicken.’

This message pervaded television commercials, and appealed to one culture’s fascination with another’s cuisine in a similar fashion to the West’s adoption of sushi.

kfc chicken christmas in Japan

Photo from Smithsonian Magazine

The simplicity of the underlying message was ideally suited to the country’s appetite for foreign ideas and tastes, becoming an undoubted success. In 1971 KFC had racked up almost $1 million of debt in Japan; by 1974 hundreds of stores were generating sales averaging $29,000 each per month.

Today KFC operates more than 1,200 stores across Japan –– with monthly profits doubling in December.

The KFC Christmas dinner has since been extended from its origins, with cake and champagne added to the original staples of chicken and wine.

Christmas Eve has become KFC’s busiest time of year in Japan, and many customers now pre-order their chicken dinners months in advance to avoid hours of waiting in line. All of this for a domestically-unfathomable $40 price tag on the meal.

KFC has further extended the overall concept of “Kentucky for Christmas.” In 2012 and 2013, passengers leaving Japan on selected flights to the U.S. and Europe were served with in-flight KFC meals over the Christmas period. And Tokyo houses KFC’s only three-story restaurant with a fully stocked whiskey bar.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

In an increasingly globalized world, capitalize on foreign goods reimagined for your regional or national market.

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Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/campbells-soup-50s-housewife-campaign/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/campbells-soup-50s-housewife-campaign/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:36:58 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17614 Photo: Bamboo Trading Campbell’s 1948 magazine campaign clearly has one audience in mind: wives and mothers, or female homemakers. The…]]>

Campbell's soup holiday campaign

Photo: Bamboo Trading

Campbell’s 1948 magazine campaign clearly has one audience in mind: wives and mothers, or female homemakers.

The advertisement shows a typical holiday scene, with mother and children carrying bundles of wrapped presents while father is almost unnoticeable in the background.

In 1948, it was the woman of a household who would invariably do much of the cooking, childcare and indeed Christmas shopping.

This advertisement draws on the pressures and time-constraints placed on the mother (and all such women) as she prepares for the holiday season. It offers her a solution to find more time during the Christmas-rushed days.

Although the advertisement provides pictures and descriptions of several available soups, it focuses on value over product placement. The primary aim is to show women how Campbell’s Soup can save them time, offering a product which is not only tasty but, more importantly, fast and easy to prepare.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Don’t just show your customers your product; tell them how it will benefit their lives over the holidays.

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Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/mr-potato-head-innovative-holiday-marketing/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/mr-potato-head-innovative-holiday-marketing/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:34:53 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=17617 Photo: Pixar. Wikia The iconic Mr. Potato Head toy was first manufactured in 1952. The toy’s popularity resulted in further…]]>

mr potato head holiday marketing

Photo: Pixar. Wikia

The iconic Mr. Potato Head toy was first manufactured in 1952.

Originally conceived and designed as plastic pieces to be inserted into a real potato, complaints over moldy vegetables soon led to the inclusion of a plastic potato body.

The toy’s popularity resulted in further members of the Potato Head family being introduced, as well as the character’s appearance in films such as the Toy Story franchise, Burger King advertisements and on children’s television shows.

In 2008 the character was also featured as one of the giant helium balloons at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The manufacturers, Hasbro Inc., made two key innovations with Mr. Potato Head’s marketing campaign.

  1. It was the first children’s toy to ever be advertised on television; although this was a novelty in itself, it is unsurprising that advertising would take advantage of the new televised media form as it came into maturity.
  2. More significantly, however, Mr. Potato Head was marketed directly at children, meaning the campaign was the first example of using television advertising to directly encourage children to request certain products from their parents. And thus, ‘pester power’ was born.

With more than one million units sold within the first year, Hasbro’s innovative marketing was a clear success.

It opened the door for what are now familiar 30-second advertising slots on television, and introduced the idea of marketing to children directly, as opposed to their parents.

These two simple ideas have been applied ever since, and still inform the format of many televised children’s toy advertisements today.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Although there are strict regulations about advertising to children, marketing softly at this valuable audience can still produce considerable pester power.

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