After years of working client side and running a PPC agency, Chloë Thomas now writes and speaks for a living. She's the host of eCommerce MasterPlan and Keep Optimising, as well as the author of five books on eCommerce. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, she's more than familiar with its players.
We had the opportunity to talk about eCommerce marketing, what it's like to host a podcast, and the similarities between people who succeed in eCommerce.
How do you keep up with the industry to provide the most up-to-date information to your audience?
Well, one of the sneaky things about being a podcast host is that every interview you do helps you keep up with what is going on. That's kind of my cheeky way of keeping myself up to date. What we cover on Keep Optimising keeps me sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to at least talk a good game. And then I have a lot of conversations with people who are in the industry. I attend a lot of events, pay attention to a ridiculous number of newsletters and obviously speak to many retailers. It's a weird amalgamation of an awful lot of conversations, basically.
What would you recommend to a business that is struggling to achieve an objective, despite seemingly “having tried it all”?
When there’s no obvious problem, and on the surface, it looks like everything is fine but it’s not leveraging results, I think they need to get back to the fundamentals, because it usually means that the strategy is wrong. It also probably means that they’ve lost connection with their customers, and they need to re-evaluate why customers are buying certain products. That’s the number one reason I come across if there’s a problem. On the other side, I frequently hear people say things like “Facebook ads don’t work for us” or “e-mail doesn't work for us”, or some big old statement where they’ve just written something off. But usually, that means they tried one out of the million strategies they could use for a week, and it didn’t work. No one gets success on Facebook ads or any platform in a week. You have to speak to the experts, test things and optimise things until you find the strategies and the ideas that work for you. So usually, the answer is going back to the drawing board.
How do you go about planning an eCommerce marketing plan?
For me, it all starts with looking at what's worked previously. I usually look year on year, and at what happened last quarter. Then I look at what the ad platforms have delivered and what we can expect from the existing ones. Then I look at any other activity around a community or around content and all those marvellous things we do these days. After that, I think about what we should be testing on top of all of that.
You get to speak with eCommerce experts regularly, what are some similarities between the people who succeed in eCommerce?
“Having that clarity of what to do and sticking to it and not getting distracted, that's what leads to great success.”
I'm in a very privileged position these days. I get to have really interesting conversations with utterly fascinating people. I think the biggest commonality of those who succeed is that from all the millions of things they could be doing at any time, they got really focused on what they should be doing. Whether they're supplier side or client side or whatever it is they're doing, those who see the most success are those who go: “Right, there are hundreds of ideas for what we could do in the next 12 months. But what do we actually need to do in the next 12 months to deliver value for our customers, our team, and our suppliers?” And then they stay utterly focused on it. I think it's about having clarity. You could describe it as luck, but personally, I think luck is earned.
How to earn that luck? How could you achieve that clarity?
Great question. You can achieve that clarity by not just sitting in your office all the time, but by getting out and about instead. Sure, you can attend some webinars and stuff that's on your desk, but I'm a massive fan of getting out to an actual event. I'm not saying this just because I'm being interviewed by eCommerce Expo, but I'm a massive fan of going to a big event and having a plan of what you want to see. And even when you know which sessions you want to go to, make sure you've left some time to wander aimlessly and see what happens in random conversations. It’s always great to be surprised by a stand you’d written off when you looked at the program on the way there, but you ended up having a long chat with them and they are like the best thing ever. You have to be willing to learn, willing to test and willing to get your head out of the game. And sometimes, you have to let your subconscious find the answers, and I think going to events is a great way to do that.
Chloë’s conference at eCommerce Expo 2023
Tell us more about your eCommerce Expo 2023 speaking session
“The 3 Keys to Success in eCommerce Right Now”
I'm going to be outlining what I think are the three key things you should be doing in eCommerce right now for success, but I’ll also be looking forward to what's going to be happening in 2024. I’ll be reviewing examples and case studies from some of my podcast guests, and we’ll talk about what separates the winners from the also-rans. If someone sits at the session and thinks they’re already doing something right, then that’s perfect, but I’d also love to provoke some light-bulb moments!
Don’t miss your chance to see Chloë Thomas live! Join us at eCommerce Expo 2023!
What is your favourite social media platform?
What are some of your favourite content creators?
What Giles Smith, who's a podcaster in Australia, is doing with the Sustainable eCommerce podcast is really impressive. It's really pushing the sustainability message. I'm kind of top of funnel on eCommerce sustainability and he's really bottom of funnel and getting some really good conversations going.
Janice is an eCommerce director at Look Fabulous Forever, and she's one of the most giving people in the eCommerce space. I think she's been on more eCommerce podcasts than me, which is saying something, and she always really gives the goods when she does speaker sessions at events. She is definitely someone to be paying attention to, especially if you are selling to a mature market.
What is your biggest pet peeve as a customer?
Having to phone somebody. I don't want to pick up that phone.
What's the tool you use the most on your laptop?
What is your favourite marketing channel?
Podcasts, closely followed by emails
What inspires you in general?
What keeps me excited in the business at the moment is helping brands find ways to embrace sustainability and to educate customers to make more sustainable buying decisions, which is increasingly a problem we're all realising we need to deal with. So, helping people work out how to do that and achieve success whilst changing our industry is what motivates me.
News for You
The latest insights and cutting edge news on evolving tools, trends, and technology to help you exploit new opportunities in the future of eCommerce.
In the ever-evolving landscape of eCommerce, where competition is fierce and consumer choices abundant, the key to sustained success lies in unlocking the power of customer retention. Discover exclusi ...
Parcel MonitorIn the ever-evolving landscape of retail and e-commerce, staying ahead of the curve is paramount for businesses looking to thrive during the peak shopping season.