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How to sell more without costing the earth

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Event insights

In November 2022, we gathered together for an event called ‘How to sell more without costing the earth’ – exploring how we can encourage strong eCommerce sales during an economic downturn without compromising budget or business ethics.

We opened with an introduction from Tess Coughlan-Allen, outlining the core themes for the event and welcoming each of our speakers to share their insights.

Woman in colourful blouse smiles outdoors

Tess Coughlan-Allen

Head of Growth at Atomic Smash, one of just 3 UK agencies to be endorsed by WooCommerce and accredited as WooExperts.

Our speakers covered

  • 1. The state of eCommerce: boom, bust or somewhere in-between?
  • 2. How to manipulate website visitors (in a good way)
  • 3. A journey to conscious media buying
  • 4. Why digital marketing will thrive in the recession, and how to seize the opportunity
Woman wearing green boilersuit gestures during presentation about how to sell more without costing the earth

The state of eCommerce: boom, bust or somewhere in-between?

The first talk from the main event came from Timothy Willis, one of the brains behind the eCommerce Brains of Bristol Meetup, the reason we were all together in the first place!

Man smiles in blue jumper against darker blue backdrop

Timothy Willis

Head of eCommerce, South West, at PushON – a full-service digital agency, focusing on digital marketing and eCommerce.

Key takeaways

TL;DR — Consumers are looking for something data-driven, ethical and personalised, but price is still important.

Customer loyalty has to be a priority

Winning customer spend is harder than ever, particularly with the cost of living and the energy crises. Research from September 2022 by Retail X & Adobe found that:

Engaging existing customers and building brand value is still a solid strategy for increasing revenue.

Personalisation makes customers feel special

Provide a great digital experience for customers through personalisation, which makes them feel special and improves loyalty.

A first-party-led data strategy was encouraged. Collecting data in a way that is compliant and with full consent through your website helps your advertising work effectively.

Create an end-to-end experience that consumers love

The customer journey doesn’t end with a sale, there is an ongoing digital and consumer experience that needs to be nurtured.

How consumer values and decision making are changing

Tip for the future: Keep investing

Many brands will be slowing down as they see the amount people spending fall, but history tells us that the best thing you can do is continue investing in your eCommerce site and marketing.

Download the slides

Man talks in front of screens during presentation at event about how to sell more without costing the earth

How to manipulate website visitors (in a good way)

Ryan Webb spoke next, taking to the stage to explain why conversion optimisation and sustainable business practice are often seen as contradictions — but sharing advice on how using powerful CRO methods are as relevant for sustainable organisations as any.

He included tips on how to influence website visitors to take the online actions you want.

Man wearing glasses smiles at the camera

Ryan Webb

Independent Conversion Optimisation Consultant, applying over 20 years of experience to identify opportunities for increasing website conversions, improving user journeys and driving more sustainable, profitable growth.

Key takeaways

TL;DR — Conversion optimisation is about influencing positively. Creating space for authentic voices could have a great impact on your conversions.

If we’re manipulating users, is conversion optimisation bad?

Conversion optimisation is the practice of increasing the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website. This could be buying something, adding a product to basket, signing up for a service, subscribing to a newsletter, and the list goes on.

In theory, conversion optimisation shouldn’t be manipulation, but influencing positively.

We can improve conversions with a strong foundation of trust, demonstrating authentic voices from your brand and from real customers through:

How can we optimise conversions?

  1. Dig around in the data to observe what’s happening on your site
  2. When you find a weakness, undertake qualitative research through the likes of surveys to gain a deeper understanding of why this is happening
  3. Make alterations on the site in an attempt to change the behaviours you’ve identified
  4. Measure the results

Recommended reading

Don’t forget the basics!

Clearly show delivery timeframes and costs on your eCommerce site, plus information about refunds and returns.

Where do sustainability and ethics come into it?

Lots of brands and businesses have signed up to pledges to be better and more sustainable, but selling more stuff isn’t sustainable in general.

Greenwashing and dark UX patterns are tactics some brands use to gain more customers, but tricks and inauthenticity will lose you more customers further down the line.

Some consumers might think about sustainability in specific terms, others will have an overall feeling about whether a retailer is good.

The perfect scenario – to personalise your sustainability messaging to reflect what each customer thinks is most meaningful – is unrealistic. Instead, flip it and focus on what your brand cares about and the messages you want to get across. This keeps things authentic.

You can break down authentic, purpose-driven messaging into bite size pieces and position these at relevant points in the purchase funnel.

Download the slides

Man talks in front of screens during presentation at event about how to sell more without costing the earth

A journey to conscious media buying

Next up was Jaye Cowle, who walked us through the first steps on her journey towards conscious media buying.

If every click, impression, video view and interaction has a carbon impact, shouldn’t we be planning our media buying with the planet in mind?

Without claiming to have all the answers, Jaye shared the ambitions she has for her agency – so, together, we can learn from one another and collectively have a more positive impact.

Woman in yellow jumper stands in front of a green wall with her arms crossed

Jaye Cowle

Founder of Launch, an award-winning South West Performance Marketing Agency and Google Partner.

Key takeaways

TL;DR — The world is missing a set of digital standards for sustainability. Together we need to show there’s an appetite for this.

We’re not saving the planet by using the cloud

Believe it or not, the cloud isn’t actually a cloud… Everything we do online has an impact on the environment. It’s important we realise this so we can start to make positive changes.

Data centres are problematic because of:

  1. Electricity consumption
  2. Water consumption
  3. Lifetime of equipment

What can we do about it?

The world is missing a set of digital standards for sustainability, but what can we do about it?

We can start with our own websites. First by investigating the carbon of each website using free tools, then comparing these to a set of ‘standards’ we want to meet.

We can’t do it alone. By having these discussions together and bringing the conversation outside into our networks, for example when talking to tech giants like Google or with our clients, we can show and encourage the wider appetite for these changes.

Doing this in parallel with other like-minded organisations reduces the commercial risk for us all.

Download the slides

Woman talks in front of screens during presentation at event about how to sell more without costing the earth

Why digital marketing will thrive in the recession, and how to seize the opportunity

Next we welcomed our final speakers to the stage! Together, Hugo and Lorenzo covered why digital marketing will thrive in the recession (and how to seize the opportunity).

Two men smile wearing black jumpers in front of a brick wall

Hugo Wilson & Lorenzo Campbell

Hugo Wilson is Digital Marketing Executive at Noble and Lorenzo Campbell is Performance Marketing Manager at Noble, a digital performance marketing agency.

Key takeaways

TL;DR — Recessions are scary, but it’s smart to continue investing in digital marketing and innovation during this time.

The world has changed in the last 13 years – and so should your approach

Here’s a step back in time to remember what 2009 looked like:

Today things look a bit different:

Advertising has changed significantly over the years:

Thrive, don’t survive

eBay’s “Stronger as one” with McCann London encourages consumers to buy products from small businesses through co-created ads with their vendors. This campaign tells the stories of each business – a masterful way to change the tone but continue advertising.

How to run campaigns over next couple years – the smart way:

What does the future look like? Top social trends:

  1. Digital diligence – Online is the next frontier for sustainability. We can’t all be perfect straight away, but you can put yourself ahead of the competition by showing that you’re trying.
  2. Social commerce – Instacart integrates with TikTok to enable users to purchase cooking ingredients from a cooking video.
  3. Thinking outside the box – MAC’s AI solution means lipsticks can be virtually tested and purchased through Snapchat, and L’Oréal’s partnership with period tracking app, Clue, aims to advance scientific knowledge on the relationship between skin health and menstrual cycles.

Download the slides

Two men stand in front of screens during presentation at event about how to sell more without costing the earth

That’s a wrap

One by one, our speakers dug into the data and looked bravely at the challenges in front of us, from economic downturn to climate emergency and everything in between.

Our shared goal was to help more businesses weather the storm, without costing the earth.

We closed the event with a notable mention of the pink suitcase theory. You want to discover which of your products drive sales, even if these products aren’t best sellers themselves.

Your pink suitcases represent the products that capture attention and create an entry point to your online store, driving other sales.

Woman wearing green boilersuit gestures towards screen during presentation about how to sell more without costing the earth

Reach out directly to any of the speakers to talk more about tried-and-tested eCommerce tactics, ethical marketing strategies, and how we can begin to tackle shared problems by working together.

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Let’s chat

Questions? Thoughts? Let’s talk more about selling more online without costing the earth.

Tess looking at camera in front of a metal backdrop

Tess Coughlan-Allen Marketing Lead

Monday 5th December 2022