What are your resolutions for 2017?
I’m sure you have some personal ones, but have you set any for your e-commerce business?
While growing your customers and your profits are likely to be your overarching goals, in order to realise them, you’ll need to focus in on the specifics. So what better time to take stock, reflect on last year’s successes and failures and ask yourself: what practical steps do I need to take to get there?
To get you started, here are some smart e-commerce resolutions to consider.
Despite preference for mobile in terms of usage, e-commerce conversion rates are still nearly 3 times higher on desktop (Source: SmartInsights).
There are three main reasons for this. Firstly, navigation is typically much smoother on a big screen. Secondly, it’s easier to see the product images. Thirdly, it’s less painful entering payment info. So what can you do to improve sales this year? Simple, focus on improving these aspects of your mobile experience.
According to retail marketing firm Listrak, the average rate of customer cart abandonment before making a purchase is 81%.
While testing and making changes to your site is crucial e.g. including a progress indictor, improving your call-to-action and giving them a guest checkout option, cart abandonment to some extent is unavoidable. Therefore make this year about retargeting – hitting those people who have left before purchase with ads and emails to bring them back. It works.
Talking of ads, the start of a new year is an ideal time to review your existing channels and to branch out and try new ones. Google AdWords can be an extremely effective advertising channel for e-commerce businesses, as can Facebook, especially if your product is very visual.
However, social media also offers many different options, some of which may work better for your business. For example, Pinterest can effectively target female audiences while YouTube can be good for males. Try a few out and use online analytics tools to see which works best for you.
Email marketing is still one of the best way’s for e-commerce businesses to convince customers to buy, but getting it right can make all the difference.
Because of this, set yourself the task of reviewing you current subscriber list – who’s responding and who isn’t – and then delete those who haven’t engaged in the past year. The next step is then moving from ‘batch and blast’ to segmentation – a proven factor in success. Try splitting your emails by gender, age or location for B2C or industry or past purchases for B2B.
Providing exceptional customer service should be a key part of any e-commerce strategy, so make 2017 the year to kick yours into shape.
Buying something online involves a great deal of trust and by offering customers easy ways to ask questions and give comments, as well as better ways to receive and return products you can win favour. Aim for positive experiences, but also seamless ones. E-commerce customers respond particularly well to the immediacy of a live chat option, so consider adding this feature to your site.
While you may have already dabbled in content marketing, make this year the year you get serious.
Statistically, content marketing can increase your e-commerce conversion rate almost 6 fold and generate twice as many leads as traditional marketing (Source: Lemonstand). In addition, it can build positive brand awareness and loyalty by giving customers the information they want while they’re searching and making pre-purchase decisions.
As well as blogs and articles, try eBooks, audio and video – put products in context, give demonstrations and share behind the scenes information.
The more places people can purchase from you, the better your chances of increasing your conversions. So, as well as focusing on making improvements to your e-commerce site and strategy, now is a great time to branch out onto new platforms to widen your reach.
One option is to create an eBay store which works alongside your site. Another is to venture into social media selling. Facebook’s Online Store Tab includes direct buy buttons and is touted to become an increasingly popular way for people to purchase.
Once you’ve decided what your New Year’s resolutions for will be, don’t forget to make an actionable plan and put it into writing. This will not only help you stick with achieving your goals but will also provide you with a benchmark against which to measure your success.
Just like with personal resolutions, don’t get downhearted if you veer off-track. Simply get back on and keep going – fulfilling your goals is more than possible with some persistent, consistent effort.
If you’re not doing case studies as part of your content marketing, you should be. As well as being one of the most widely used and effective formats in the B2B market – with 73 percent of businesses turning to them to inform purchasing decisions (DemandGen) – they are increasingly being recognised by B2C companies aware of their power to inform and convince in a non-salesy way.
It makes sense really, I mean, what business wouldn’t benefit from showcasing real examples of how their product or service makes their customers or clients happy? They are like testimonials on steroids. But why do they work?
Numerous scientific studies have shown that stories are a powerful way of communicating. By offering information in a relatable way, they help an audience engage with, remember and form emotional connections with what is being said.
Because a case study is essentially a customer success story, businesses are able to draw on these benefits and use them to influence potential customers into making positive purchasing decisions. To get it right, ensure you foster a solid narrative, beginning with the customer then following with the challenge, the journey, the discovery, the solution, the implementation and finally the results.
Customers love social proof. They like to know that other people have had a good experience with a company before they make the decision to do business with them. Although this can be achieved with reviews and testimonials, a case study goes one step further by offering a much more detailed account of how a solution was successfully delivered.
The most effective case studies are ones that are based around an interview with the actual customer or client involved. Why? Because quoting your customer in their own words will make the case study more authentic and therefore more believable.
While typically businesses try to sell themselves by explaining what they can do, a case study does one better by giving a real life example of what they have actually achieved, backed up by hard data. Because of this, they help lift your credibility in the eyes of even the most sceptical client.
The more factual and statistical information you can provide in a case study, the better. People trust facts much more than marketing blurb, especially in the B2B market where they often look to case studies towards the end of their decision-making process and want that final reassurance.
Although case studies are effective, to get them right you do need to invest a bit of effort into compiling and creating them. But herein lays your advantage. Because they are much more involved than your standard testimonial, and often require time spent pulling together information and interviewing customers, it means fewer businesses use them and therefore they can help you stand out in even the most competitive marketplaces.
With a customer teetering on the edge of a product or service purchase decision, if your website has some solid case studies on it and your competitors don’t, it’s more likely they’ll be picking up the phone and calling you because you present less risk.
A less obvious benefit of case studies is that they provide you with a fantastic opportunity to learn more about your customers and your product or service. Through the interview and information gathering process, you’ll likely find out things you didn’t know before and, because of this, gain a better understanding of how people use what you sell.
This is beneficial for two main reasons. Firstly, the more you know about your customers the better you can tailor your marketing communication efforts. Secondly, it can point you in the direction of improvements that could be made, therefore assisting your businesses R&D.
When done right, case studies can become one of the most effective forms of content for your business. If you’re not sure how to get started, contact us today for a chat.
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