retail marketing

Retailers Make Marketing Mistakes Amid Hurricane Sandy Tragedy

Hurricane Sandy was devastating. It took the lives of 113 people. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people will be left homeless. 8,000,000 people were without power from South Carolina to Maine (and many still remain without power). Amid the chaos, four major retailers somehow saw Hurricane Sandy as a marketing opportunity. Perhaps the potential dollar signs clouded their common sense and sensitivity for fellow Americans.

Here’s how American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Jonathan Adler, and Gap exploited #Sandy:

American Apparel launched a Hurricane Sandy sale for states affected by the hurricane in case they were "bored":

Urban Outfitters offered free shipping in a tweet that including the hashtag #Frankenstorm:


Jonathan Adler also offered free shipping with the promo code SANDY which was then changed to STUCKINSIDE:

Gap even checked in at “Frankenstorm Apocalypse- Hurricane Sandy” on Foursquare and leveraged the hashtag #Sandy to promote shopping:

Just because a topic is receiving a spike in social chatter or is trending on Twitter, does not make it appropriate to exploit a catastrophe. Marketers, have we not learned from Kenneth Cole’s horrendous #Cairo tweet?

These four retailers pissed off a lot of customers and other social media users. And now these brands are in damage control mode. Of course, they’ve apologized for their incredible insensitivity (well, apparently not American Apparel), but their brand reputation is now tarnished.

This is a situation where Advocates could come to a brand’s rescue. Brand Advocates will not only support and promote their favorite companies, but they will defend them as well. For example, Gap could rally their Advocates to share this news: Gap is donating $1 million in cash and clothing to Hurricane Sandy relief. Spreading the word about their support of an important cause could at least drown out some of the backlash their tweet caused in the Twittersphere.

Let’s face it. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. But if you don’t have an army of Advocates ready to mobilize when you need it most, you could be left to fend for yourself.

If you would like to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief, please visit American Red Cross.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment- Your Advocates Have the Answer!

Here’s a scary stat for retail marketers: 7 out of 10 online shopping carts are abandoned before a sale is completed (Source: Forrester). And unfortunately, abandonment rates are rising due to consumers seeking product information (prices, ratings, reviews, etc) from various online sources.

Charles Nicholls, founder and chief strategy officer for SeeWhy says that “...rather than being a rejection of the brand’s value proposition, [abandonment] can be a step in the decision process for some buyers and for the majority of purchases. This is visible in the way that some customers will come back multiple times as they consider the purchase, storing items in their shopping carts as ‘wish lists.’”

A greatly effective way to push the cart to checkout is to leverage the authentic enthusiasm of the customers who love you the most: your Brand Advocates.

Facilitate the Prospect-Advocate conversation: Give prospects the option to ask current customers questions about the product they are considering purchasing.



Here’s how:

  1. Ask your Advocates if they’d be willing to answer questions from people considering buying your products. Those who opt in become your virtual salesforce.
  2. Place a banner on various pages of your website (product page, checkout page, review page, etc.) that gives prospects the option to “Ask Real Brand X Customers” about your products.
  3. Facilitate the conversation between Advocates and prospects. Through our Advocate Answers app, prospects can ask a question and Advocate responses are sent directly to them via email.
  4. Place a call-to-action banner in the email or the webpage where prospects read answers (such as a special offer) to increase conversion rates.

Our customers have seen 13%-33% conversion to sale rates by connecting their prospects and Advocates. Watch the VP of Marketing for Ooma, a VoIP provider, discuss the benefits of energizing their Brand Advocates (including leveraging Advocate Answers) here.

Why it works:

  • Brand Advocates are your biggest fans. They are more than willing to share their enthusiasm and expertise about your products.
  • Brand Advocates, by nature, love creating content. In fact, they are 50% more likely to create content that influences a purchase.
  • Brand Advocates are more trusted and powerful than brands. A recent Nielsen study on consumer trust found that consumers trust their peers above all other forms of advertising.

To learn more, download the whitepaper, "The ROI of Energizing Brand Advocates."