On a mission for cleaner underwear, that is what the Dutch underwear brand Saint Basics has been all about since 2009. Starting November 1st, FSG will support Saint Basics in growing their online business in Germany.
‘Saint Basics has been the most sustainable basics brand in the Netherlands since 2009’, says Peter van Akkeren, who founded the company because he wanted to offer a fair, comfortable alternative to underwear, t-shirts and other basics being produced in questionable circumstances.
Germany, according to Van Akkeren, had been on his wish list for a while now. ‘We saw that there was a stable stream of orders coming in from Germany on our webshop. We didn’t do much in Germany in terms of promotions or campaigns. For the type of goods that we produce, Germany is 3,5 times the market compared to the Netherlands. So there’s an opportunity here.’
FSG will support Saint Basics in gaining likeability, engagement and growth online in Germany. Van Akkeren: ‘My dream is to build a community around Saint Basics in Germany, with which we can clean up the fashion industry from the inside out.’
Radboud Langenhorst, FSG’s CEO, is looking forward to starting working on Saint Basics. ‘We always ask ourselves when talking to potential new clients: do we believe in what they are doing? In this case, the answer was a firm yes. Sustainability is an important topic to many Germans. We think Saint Basics will be a great and sustainable addition to Germany’s wardrobe, a brand that will be able to grow fast in Germany. We are more than happy to partner up with them to make it happen.
Berlin – FSG is proud to announce its next partnership with the Dutch fashion brand POM Amsterdam. FSG and POM Amsterdam have big plans to grow POM’s online business in Germany.
POM Amsterdam was founded by Liesbeth Lotgering and Violet Lotgering, two sisters from the Netherlands who started designing colorful scarves in 2011. Since then, they have added fashionable, colorful dresses, blouses, skirts and suits to their collection, always with contrasting colors and powerful prints.
‘Germany is very similar to the Netherlands in terms of culture and values. We are looking forward to introducing our colorful clothes to German consumers’, says POM’s Managing Director Matthijs Bijl. ‘We are very curious to see which items of our colorful collection will suit German women and are hoping to perhaps add items to the collection that are made specifically with German women in mind.
´I think we can all agree that Germany is always in need of more colorful and eye-catching fashion (;-)), so welcome a board POM Amsterdam! I am really looking forward to our partnership and successfully growing this original brand in the German market,´ says Radboud Langenhorst, FSG’s CEO.
Let’s talk some harcore nerdy stuff for the readers that like new types of information by reading more than 3 minutes instead of looking at funny GIFs 🙂
Together with our super cool data analytics partner Haensel AMS we took the last two years to set up our own data and dashboard system for our clients. For this, we use a dashboard tool that includes all online data sources and is based on a tailored attribution model, that Haensel AMS has developed.
Let’s begin with writing down what Google says actually is an attribution model:
An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for online sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. For example, the Last Interaction model in Google Analytics assigns 100% credit to the final touchpoints (last-click) that immediately precede sales or conversions.
And to add to this, these sets of rules are predefined and standardized to ensure that it’s one-size-fits-all. Let’s be honest; for most brands this appears to work pretty well, right?
However we agree to disagree here. Why?
Well, because of:
Most european brands we work with are very well known in their home country, but not (yet) in the German market. The German market is fiercely competitive. Brands tend to spend a lot more media budget than in most other EU countries. This means you can easily burn most of your precious budget without having had any impact on your sales;
Nowadays most Ecommerce managers have to make spaghetti out of too many channels, data sources and even different attribution models which can become somewhat complicated to manage and react in a fast way;
And this is especially the case because Google and Facebook, being the biggest players, use different attribution models to make it extra difficult to compare data or results;
Last but not least we had the hypothesis that there is no standardized way of allocating a sale or conversion for the simple reason that when you buy, for example, a bag of dog food (and we happen to sell dog food) the customer journey is different versus when you want to buy a €500,- mattress (and we happen to sell mattresses).
So what did we do?
For each of the brands we are working for, we started with collecting lots and lots of (GDPR-proof!) website event data. Here are the most important variables we track, weigh and value:
the time between customer touchpoints, e.g. a visitor clicking on a Google Search ad which leads to a webshop visit. Two days later the same person is visiting the same webshop through an email campaign.
the type and amount of actions on the specific webshop during a visit. Here you can think of the amount of pages viewed, whether the potential customer subscribed to a newsletter, whether he/she clicked on a product, and went to the check-out page, etc.
On top we further enriched the website traffic data with information from platforms such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook, ERP´s, etc. These third party data sources are integrated with API connections and automatics daily/hourly downloads.
We don’t want to give away the secret Coca Cola recipe to our model, however what we can say is this results in finally seeing fact-based which channels really matter in the three interaction phases (Initializer, Holder, Closer) for your brand and at what point in the customer journey they do (We keep in mind that most brands have different seasonalities, product launches, shopping events, etc).
On top of that we managed to pinpoint visitors that use both their mobile and other devices in the same customer journey, which means we have pretty accurate data that we can really rely on.
Why is all this pretty amazing?
We e.g. see in our portfolio that for an average customer it takes up to 28 days to buy a product. In this time frame, they visit the website up to 10 times and show different kinds of behavior every visit. And you can do A LOT with this info!
This is what our Head of Ops and BI Juan says, we can do with this kind of information:
We can decide to invest the lionshare of our precious media budget sometimes up to three weeks before a big moment coming up for the brand, for example the launch of a new collection or a big sales campaign. We can allocate a big share of media budget in channels that are normally undermined by default attribution. Yes that feels like risky business, however the numbers tell the tale. The much needed proof for “AIDA” or “Touch-Tell-Sell” approaches than can easily feel like burning money at the wrong moment
We can reliably predict behavior and build so-called bottom up forecasts (starting at channel level) which means we can place safer bets with mostly higher media budgets over time
We have insights on difficult-to-measure channels like influencer marketing, brand collaborations or even PR.
We can collect all this input of different data sources (our own website tracking, GA, Facebook, Influencers, Affiliates, Content partners, etc.) and visualize them in one dashboard tool (right now we are using PowerBI and Tableau for different clients). This means that every stakeholder -from the CEO up until a specific marketing specialist can use the same dashboard, look at the same data and compare apples with apples.
What´s next? According to our Managing Director Radboud Langenhorst it’s all about constantly improving the data quality and understanding how to best work with this data for our clients. Also with this tool we are onboarding a lot of different stakeholders into e-commerce and letting them see the true chances and opportunities through all the costs and risks.
Curious how this works? Please feel free to contact us here. If you want to know more about us, click herefor our website, or click here for Haensel AMS’s website.
Germany is lifting its Corona prevention restrictions. What do German companies (startups and dinosaurs) look like 100 days into the crisis? Germany’s first corporate winners and losers on how they reacted to this crisis, according to FSG’s content marketing expert Maartje.
Marley Spoon/Hello Fresh, Berlin
Restaurants were closed, people were at home, Berlin based Hello Fresh took advantage of the Corona crisis. Their revenue increased by 66 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, one million more people ordered their food boxes. Berlin competitor Marley Spoon also saw its numbers rise. Revenue increased there by 46 per cent.
Plexiglass helps protect people from the very infectious Corona virus. Berliners will find plexiglass in every Späti, supermarket, hair salon or drug store here, protecting workers from customers and the other way around. The German company Plexiglas (written with one ‘s’) was founded in 1903 by a German scientist and was bought by American private equity group Advent International in 2019 for 2,5 billion euros. Since the start of the Corona crisis, production has increased ‘five to ten times’ for the company (total company revenues to the tune of €2 billion ($2.16 billion) in 2018).
Frankfurt based Teamviewer, which allows companies to let their employees work remotely by sharing screens and having online meetings, is going through the roof. ‘Ein der Profiteuren der Coronakrise’, wrote Handelsblad about the company that was founded in 2005. Their revenue in the first quarter of 2020: 102,7 million euros (+19 per cent YoY).
The online fashion platform from Berlin is growing even though fashion in general was hit hard during the first 100 days of the Corona crisis. After announcing this month that the company is still doing well, Zalando said that they are still planning to grow around 10 to 20 percent this year.
The Startups in Berlin
4 out of 10 startups currently don’t have enough money in the bank to survive for another three months, according to data from the organization Startup Genome. Since the start of the Corona crisis, investments in startups worldwide have decreased with 20 per cent. Is funding going to dry up for the Berlin startup scene? In Germany, it’s unclear yet whether and how many startups will file for bankruptcy, since the state has allowed startups to wait with filing for bankruptcy until September 30th 2020. One of Berlin’s Unicorns, Getyourguide, was hit hard, according to data from Priori. Downloads of the Getyourguide app have dropped drastically from around 7.000 daily downloads in February and March, to less than 100 in April and May of this year.
With a float of 760 airplanes and only 80 of them up and running at this point, German airline Lufthansa is clearly hurt. The Frankfurt based ‘Luftgesellschaft’ saw its amount of passengers decline by 99 per cent since the start of the crises. A total of 3.000 flights is cancelled – daily. However, the airline published its 2019 numbers proudly halfway May 2020, saying 2019 was a year like never before. They added that ‘they are looking forward to June, when many travelers will hit the road again’, which made them announce to add 80 more planes to the float. Lufthansa employees currently in Kurzarbeit: 80.000 from 130.000. Lufthansa’s CEO asked the German governement for financial support, however, is not interested in giving away part of its shares in return. ‘We need Germany, but Germany needs Lufthansa, too’, he said.
The car industry, all over Germany
Car sales in Germany have fallen to a historic low. German carmakers have demanded a purchase incentive from Chancellor Merkel, like the one in the crisis of 2008. Back then, Germans purchasing a car, could redeem a 2.500 euro voucher when handing in a used car in order to purchase a new one. VW, BMW, Audi and Mercedes are going through tough times. In April of this year, VW sold 45 per cent less cars compared to 2019 worldwide.
All in all, it’s too early to draw drastic conclusions after the first 100 days. However, the fact that the world will change, is something many agree on. (Read this interesting piece in the Guardian about the potential new world order to find out why, according to the author, the EU will be the biggest Corona-loser of all).
Are you interested in reading more on how we at FSG are dealing with the Corona Crisis for the different international brands we represent?
Read more about what our brand team has done in times of Corona. Or click here if you want to read more about what kind of customer movements we have seen online since the start of the crisis.
Berlin – With almost two months of ‘the new normal’ behind us, FSG shares with you what has changed in ways of communicating with online German consumers since the Coronavirus crisis.
Many brands in Germany have a lot of different challenges on their plate, now that social distancing is becoming the ‘new normal’. Shops in Germany have opened up again since last week, however, people are spending more and more time buying their stuff online. With less support from retail, good product USP’s are not enough to stand out anymore.
For brands, there is an opportunity here to invest in organic traffic and interaction with (new) customers. In Germany, this means localized branding is the way to go. A brand selling online in Germany, needs to communicate ‘the German way’. In German. Here’s what we did and learned.
Inform and entertain your customers According to FSG’s Head of Brand, Denny Hartmann, German consumers want to be informed but also entertained. ‘In these trying times, we want to offer followers a good mix of infotainment and facts. With the only goal being increasing customer engagement, we worked on the following ‘on-top’ measures for one of our clients called Paula´s Choice that sells skincare products:
We created ‘infotainment´ packages on how to take care of your skin for our community members (loyal customers). These prefab contents were easy to share with their own followers;
We interviewed several loyal customers so that they can tell their personal story and skincare routine via our – and their own – social media;
We intensified our current program for all influencers that we work with, with the aim to reward and educate them. For this we worked on so-called knowledge boosts for specific products, a reward program for successful posts and fixed content packages that are easy to integrate in their postings;
We are preparing an online Q&A event with founder Paula Begoun for German press, influencers and customers.
Prepare for more in-depth questions We see that German consumers spend more time online in general. We also see that they have more in-depth questions, and follow up questions. More than normal, according to both Denny and Afrula Repas, who is one of FSG’s Senior Customer Service Representatives. The amount of comments on Instagram increased.
In these trying times, German consumers want to be heard. Not only during working hours. Also on weekends and at night. ‘We see that people are more active late at night compared to before-corona. I think since many Germans are working from home, at it seems that they sleep in later and therefore go to bed later’, says Afrula.
‘Also threads with customers who contact our customer service department are longer and more in-depth’, says Afrula. We also see this on social media, where the amount of comments compared to before-Corona increased for some of the brands by 20 per cent. ‘All of this made us decide to expand the Customer Service team especially during the Covid-19 crisis, since the last thing you want now is unanswered calls and questions’, says Managing Director Radboud Langenhorst.
Good Customer Service becomes crucial Because of the above, we have decided to have the live chat function working non-stop now, because we see this is a crucial channel in generating sales. In most of the cases a good and obviously real-time chat can be the last push to make a customers find their product and buy it. People have, and therefore take, more time to consciously buy a product so we made sure to be there to consult and to answer questions about shipping times and return policies. Now more than ever good customer service becomes a crucial Online USP. ‘We are even going to test video chat soon’, says Afrula.
Keep the frequency, make it (more) relevant. Here’s an important thing to keep in mind. Suddenly increasing the amount of newsletters because people are spending more time at home, or the amount of posts on Facebook, is going to turn off German customers. ‘They are used to a certain routine. So there’s no need to bother them with more, just because the world has changed’, says Denny. ‘However, try to make your content more relevant.’
This is the time to see if adjusting your content can get your customers to order a second time. Introduce other products to them, items that could be of interest to them. We did this for Kaufnekuh, the website where customers can buy a share of meat. We started spreading the word about packages that also contained chicken and pork from local farms and started with more content on topics like recipes, the life of a local farmer and their livestock and cooperations with other relevant brands. This led to an increase in orders on Kaufeinhuhn und Kaufeinschwein, but also a significant increase of the open- and clickthrough rates.
Be patient Due to Covid-19 many of our clients had both an increase in demand and challenges with cross-border shipping. This led to an increased amount of questions about packages being delivered with a delay. As a customer service representative, now even more than before, it’s the time to be patient’, says Afrula. FSG has generated automated newsletters to customers to spread the word about small delays in orders and returns.
All in all, according to FSG, this is not the time for brands to cut up the marketing budget or the efforts on brand activities and customer engagement. Denny states: ‘There’s lots of opportunities to increase your traffic and awareness on social organic platforms.
Now that German consumers are spending more time writing comments and also replying to your comments, brands can profit from that and can more easily create a connection between the customer and the brand. Let’s take advantage of that.’
The online cards are being reshuffled. With less and less support from retail, good product usp’s will not be enough to stand out.
Do you want to talk to us about localized German branding, or do you have questions about this subject? Drop us a line here, or contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Berlin – With the Coronacrisis all around us, we, too, see that limited social interaction changes our lives significantly. Many entrepreneurs are affected, the economic impact in the world gets bigger every day this crisis lasts. Many people ask us ‘what’s next?’ for e-commerce businesses like our clients have. To answer that question, our Managing Director Radboud Langenhorst shares our insights here.
By Radboud Langenhorst
This article shares some light on what developments we see in the German ecom market that we believe are important enough to explain since the first small business opportunities are arising.
For this article, we have looked at cosmetics, food, fashion, apparel, home-decoration and lifestyle products as being the main sub-industries in which FSG is active.
Overall we see the following impact:
All industries took huge turnover hits in the first two weeks (w11 + w12) of nationwide Corona measures in Germany, except for food, which showed an immediate increase
In the last two weeks all of the above mentioned sub-industries are picking up (slightly) again, whereas food and home-decoration are doing better than before Covid-19
For food this is mainly due to the amount of transactions, which in the first weeks had a higher share of existing customers ordering more, and in the last weeks a higher share of new customers
For home-deco this is mainly driven by higher order values next to a higher share of new customers
To start top-down, we believe that the following macro-developments are the main drivers for the above mentioned:
The share of people that buy online is increasing. This is a change of behavior of a smaller part of the population but still has a significant and long-term impact
People will buy more of the same type of products online. This is more of the same behavior of a big part of the population and has also a significant but a more temporary impact
People will buy different type of products online. This is also a change of behavior of a big part of the population and will have a significant and long-term impact
Let’s look at some e-commerce drivers that explain current performance further:
Overall, we see that the main reason for the turnover hits in the first weeks is less traffic to the different websites. This is understandable of course due to all major concerns and insecurities. At the same time, it is also due to some serious media budget cuts, which leads to double dipping and missing out on opportunities at hand.
Next to that, the conversion rates for all industries stabilized or even improved a bit in the last two weeks. This is in general due to a higher online buying intention (see the above mentioned macro developments), but also due to less media spend invested in more expensive channels that are aiming more for brand awareness instead of sales like e.g. Youtube. In other words if you invest less in new traffic, your conversion rate goes up by definition, because you are left with the ones who know your brand and have shown interest before.
Are there other metrics that back up the higher interest and online buying intention? Yes! Overall interest is increasing and can be concluded based on more time spend on all websites (except food, where it´s just about e.g. buying products NOW! ;)) and more pages viewed.
The only thing is that people have in fact more time and especially in Germany, this leads to more research and questions on-site, for customer service (our CS team has never been more busy!) and on social media. In addition, more competitors are being taken into consideration in the interest phase. This leads to longer customer journeys (+15%) and more touchpoints / channels in a single customer journey (+20%) throughout all sub-industries.
The fact that people have more time, is also visible when looking at some content consumption metrics. Social engagement KPI’s like shares, likes and clicks are going up significantly and also the amount of video consumption went up with almost 25 per cent! Looking at Newsletters, we see an open-rate increase of almost 20 per cent in combination with a 15 per cent click-through-rate. So yes people consume more (non-commercial-) content and it makes a lot of sense to focus on this, especially now.
So what to do with all this info? We have drawn the following conclusions and focus areas:
Avoid a vicious circle by cutting too much media budget, which will lead to an even higher loss of traffic. Just agree on/ and clearly communicate return-on-ad-spends that work for your business. Being present now, also through more pricey awareness channels like Social Paid or Youtube can pay off and will drive traffic, provided that you have enough relevant content of course
And thus create lots of localized content for all relevant channels. Especially more general interest topics around production, fun-facts, how-to´s, or tapping into moments like mother´s day will drive interest, engagement and over time sales. This does not have to be overproduced/ pricy, as long as it’s authentic and real.
Increase available resources for customer engagement and questions through all relevant channels. Having live-chat on the webshop of one of our clients is one of our biggest sales drivers at this moment.
As for all brands that are struggling in their home-market and are not yet live in Germany: the cards are being reshuffled now. Meaning some competitors are seriously cutting down, some are going all-in with endless promotions and some will leave the market. In our opinion we see opportunities to move in now, since all competitors will start investing again after Corona (high CPA’s!), consumers will invest more at first in things they could not do like travel and going out and retail-presence is no longer a competitive advantage, meaning if your product, webshop and shipping policies are good; you are as good or better as anyone else!
Curious on how we do this at FSG? Please reach out so that we can organize a nice chat via zoom, or hangouts, or skype, or teams.
Berlin – FSG’s office is empty today, since all of us are working from home in respons to the new Coronavirus. What else is happening in Berlin?
Here’s your FSG Update from Berlin, where the streets are getting more empty by the minute, while temperatures are rising. Starting Wednesday, all Berlin stores except grocery stores, will have to close their doors.
FSG is not alone in going in to ‘home-office mode’. Berlin’s mobile bank N26 has completely closed its physical doors. According to the German news website on the start-up scene, Gründerszene, N26 is a fintech where working from home is not something the management normally encourages. More than 1.000 N26 employees are working from home.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has said it has 164 million euros available for start-ups that could come up with technologies and innovations that will help prevent the new Coronavirus from spreading. Deadline for sending in a plan for the ‘Corona accelerator’ is March 18th end-of-day.
Some German start-ups are benefiting from the new Coronavirus. 18-year old Nils Reichardt sees that downloads of his home schooling app Sharezone are getting through the roof. His app can be used by students to send in homework to teachers also working from home. Also downloads on the website Lehrermarktplatz.de have sky rocketet in Germany, with a record of over 100.000 downloads over the last weekend.
Many people here in Germany have been stocking up on toilet paper. Also the start up Happypo is benefiting. Happypo, started its business in mobile bidets in 2018 and now has a message on their website that meanwhile they have limited stock, indicating that their sales increased thanks to the virus.
Another questions being asked in Germany now that the Coronavirus is spreading, is if cash money, a payment method many Germans prefer over paying by card, can carry the virus. Read more on that here.
In German politics, Friedrich Merz, one of the possible future Chansellors from the German political party CDU, has been tested positive with the new Coronavirus, according to Spiegel.
That’s it for today. We hope you all stay safe and healthy. Take care of yourself and of each other, FSG.
Berlin – FSG’s response to the new Coronavirus means most of us are working from home at this point. Listen to our Managing Director, Radboud Langenhorst, as a special reporter from Start-up Hub Berlin in this Podcast.
In today’s published podcast Coronacast from Grenzeloos Ondernemen (in Dutch), FSG’s Managing Director Radboud Langenhorst talks about in what ways the new Coronavirus is affecting FSG’s business, the Berlin start-up scene and the German economy as a whole. Listen to Radboud’s interview with Dutch journalist Folkert Tempelman.
We are hiring! FSG is growing and we encourage you to do the same. Read here about the positions we have available in our Berlin office, and click on a job title to read the detailed description of every posting. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.
Junior Social Media Manager Do you know how to lift a social media account to the next level? Are you comfortable with actively engaging with social network communities? Are you willing to speak up about potential social media strategies and do you like working in a young, dynamic team?
Junior Performance Marketing Manager Do you like to be creatively and systematically involved in online strategies? Are you experienced in SEA, Shopping, Display and/or Video Marketing? Are you willing to speak up about potential social media campaigns and are you willing to take responsibility for your own campaigns while working in a young, dynamic team?
Werkstudent for Brand and Social Media Are you a student looking for a paid internship? Our dynamic team with flat hierarchy allows you to actively engage in building Social Media Strategies for our clients.
Customer Service Professional Do you love talking to curious (potential) customers and does it give you joy to come up with solutions for their questions or concerns? This job is made for you.
Junior Recruiter As you can see, our business is rapidly growing and we’re always on the lookout for new hires. Would you be interested in helping us with this?
Are you interested in talking to us about one of these positions? Please contact email@example.com to learn more.
PS. FSG’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak means most of us are working from home at this point. We will continue to interview candidates remotely via video call. If we are ready to move to the offer stage, we will always make an effort to try to meet a candidate in person.
Berlin – FSG is happy to announce that we have renewed our contract with our partner Auping. Auping and FSG started working together halfway 2018. In the future, we will together work on growing the Auping-brand and increasing awareness for Auping in Germany.
Auping has been available in Germany for more than 8 yers now. “Auping and FSG started working together a little less than two years ago to focus more on the competitive, online German world. At the time we did not have an Auping webshop. The Auping website was there to help potential new customers in their research in finding the right bed and a way to better sleep”, says Jörg Cieslak, Managing Director Auping Germany.
FSG and Auping together created a strategy for Auping to become more than just that. “What we did together over the last two years is pretty impressive”, says Radboud Langenhorst, managing director of FSG. “We created an online omni channel strategy in order to increase turnover in local stores. Auping is world famous in the Netherlands. However, not many people in Germany knew them when we started. We focused on creating online content specifically for the German market. And we measured the results of the amount of visitors in stores.”
“What we did together with FSG was a major step forward. The online experience of German Auping customers has now become the most important part of their journey. Buying a bed is what most people still do offline. They want to feel the mattress, experience what it feels like when you lay on it. However, we give them as much information as possible online before they come to the store. They only have to visit an Auping store or Auping dealer once”, says Jörg. “This way, we minimize their carbon footprint, which is important to us.”
Radboud adds: “Auping has laid the right foundation in Germany to make some huge steps in the following years and we are super excited to support them on this journey.”
“Now that the Auping webshop is live in Germany, in the next few years we can focus on growing the brand and revenue of Auping further. FSG is really proud to be working with a brand with such unique USP’s .”
Do you want to find out more about FSG? Read more about us here or contact us here.