# Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Foundation-logoMarketing Foundation introduced with uCommerce 2.0 adds rich marketing capabilities, which can be used to stimulate customers to buy. It’s built based on three simple principles: Advertise, Act, and Award.

Advertise

One of the common issues with discounts is that customers are never told about them thus a discount does not work its full effect. Basically the customer is only made aware of the discount once they actually trigger it, which is akin to throwing marketing dollars out the window as the customer was likely to buy anyway.

That’s why we built each campaign item in uCommerce to include the “Advertise” component so marketers actively have to decide whether to advertise or not; at the end of the day why wouldn’t you?

When doing advertisements in uCommerce you will select a number of targets, which are to be satisfied in order for the campaign item to be displayed. You can think of them in terms of, “Customer is viewing this category”, “Customer is viewing this page”, “Customer is in this particular store or catalog”.

If multiple targets are configured in the “Advertise” section the campaign item will be displayed if any of the targets are satisfied.

Once a campaign item is targeted for the current customer its contents can be displayed, which includes rich text, video, HTML, and even the actual targets and awards inside the campaign item. What this boils down to is that you can display banners, which feature video, sound, or HTML content and you can take this a step further by actually telling the customer what she needs to do in order to receive a particular discount.

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Say you have a campaign item set up called “Free shipping for orders over 400€”. The intent is clear enough, but what if you could actually tell the customer how close she is to get that discount? It just so happens that you can.

Using the information produced by Marketing Foundation you can tell the customer exactly what she must do to trigger the discount.

Say she’s got items in the cart with a total value of 350€. You’d pop up a message telling her that by buying for 50€ more she’d get free shipping; oh and by the way here are some products which 50€ or more making it easy for the customer to take the action we want her to.

Act

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The act section of a campaign item is the thing we want the customer to do to trigger a discount. When you think about it a discount is actually composed of two things: The thing we want the customer to do; the act part, and the thing the customer gets; the award part.

Think of “Act” as “The customer must buy this particular product”, “The customer must buy for more than x amount”, “The customer must buy something from this particular store, catalog, or category”, etc.

Targets can be combined to form even more powerful campaign items such as a product bundle or kit depending on which side of the pond you’re on.

If multiple targets are set up in the “Act” section of the campaign item they must all be satisfied in order to trigger the discount. Say you want to the customer to buy two products to get a discount. You’ll set up two targets: One for each of the products in involved. uCommerce will look for these products in the cart of they are both found will trigger the discount.

Award

AwardThe final piece of the puzzle is the “Award”, i.e. the thing the customer gets. The award is completely separate from the rest of the campaign item and thus can be reused for many different types of discounts, e.g. “Buy for more than 400€ and get free shipping ” could also be “Enter this promo code and get free shipping”. The only difference is that the “Buy for more than 400€” act section is substituted with “Enter this promo code”. The award remains the same.

Types of awards include “Get amount of unit price”, “Get amount off order total”, “Get amount off order lines total”, “Get percentage off shipping”. Awards can be combined like targets and effectively gives you a discount for each of the awards configured.

It’s important to distinguish between order discounts and order line discounts. The difference being that order level discounts are typically applied only once per order, e.g. “Get amount off order total” will only add a single discount to the order as you’d expect.

Order line discounts on the other hand can involve multiple order lines as in the case of the bundle or kit. Here two or more order lines are involved in the discount thus each of lines will have the order line discount applied, e.g. “Get 10% off unit price” will produce two discounts; one for each order line satisfied by the Act section.

Campaign Items

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The campaign item ties together our “Advertise”, “Act”, and “Award” sections and is the unit, which can be thought of as a “Discount”.  However, the campaign item does more than just set up a discount, it serves as the content for the advertisement as well.

A campaign item is assigned a “definition” when it’s created. The definition determines the content that the marketer can add to the advertisement. So this is basically where you’d add all the rich content we discussed in the beginning of the article.

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You can read more about definitions in Catalog Foundation Explained: Product Definitions. The basic concept of the definition is the same for campaign items as for products although obviously a campaign item definition does not deal with variants.

Because the campaign items are configured using definitions you can add your own properties and multilingual properties effectively giving you multilingual marketing campaigns right there. No need to configure the same campaign item twice if you want to target different languages, just add the relevant multilingual properties and you’re done!

Multiple Discounts Per Order, Or No

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In some cases you don’t want the customer to receive multiple discounts. That’s where the configuration of the campaign item comes in. Of course you can disable individual campaign items that you don’t customer to receive at all by removing the checkmark in the “Enabled” checkbox.

More interestingly you can configure a campaign item to not allow additional discounts if the “Act” section of current campaign item is satisfied. Combine this with the priority of individual campaign items and you can effectively control which discounts the customer is awarded based on your business rules.

You can prioritize campaign items by right-clicking the campaign and choosing “Prioritize campaign items” in the tree menu.

Campaigns

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Finally we come to the top-most level of Marketing Foundation: The campaigns. A marketing campaign is a collection of campaign items grouped together under a name so each campaign will effectively hold all the planned marketing activities for a given period of time.

A marketing campaign is assigned an interval for which it is active. uCommerce will automatically activate campaign items within in the campaign once the activation period is reached and disabled them again once the activation period is done.

In Summary

uCommerce Marketing Foundation is a highly flexible way to set up marketing messages and discounts in your online store. Combined targets and awards make for interesting possibilities when it comes to different discount types and best of all you can let your customers know exactly what they need to do to get a discount, which is the way it should be.

More importantly Marketing Foundation is built-in from the ground up using our Framework First approach, which means that new targets and awards can easily be added. You can even go so far as to change the inner workings on Marketing Foundation. What this means for your online store is that marketing can be tailored to meet your needs exactly.

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