It’s reaching midway into December and online retail is witnessing an explosive sales cycle. Black Friday 2016 alone accounted for $3.34 Billion in single day sales across the US and Cyber Monday witnessed $3.4 Billion in single day sales. Experts have opined that the last quarter of every year is fit to be called the equivalent of child birth for retailers especially online retailers, because most of them arguably witness more than 30% of their annual sales happen in just under a month during the holiday season. It is also the time when they acquire tons of first time buyers with attractive holiday promotions. But many often ecommerce players fail to capitalize on these new leads generated during the holiday season and subsequently a good majority of first time buyers never return again to shop from them.
We believe this is because marketers at such online retailers fail to create an effective sales framework where the intention of the holiday campaign is to create loyal customers rather than bring in a slew of one time shoppers. Considering the huge advantage of technology inspired automated marketing channels available today, it is nearly a fatal mistake to target both new buyers and existing buyers with the same set of campaigns in the form of email, print, social media and other marketing channels. Engaging first time buyers is crucial to convert their first time impression into marks of loyalty. Here are some tips for marketing folks at ecommerce companies to drive repeat sales from first time buyers after the holiday season:
A great user experience
So your email and social media campaigns have borne fruit and leads start to pour into your online store. The biggest factor that determines how well leads are converted into actual buyers is the ease with which they can navigate on your website and how fast they can finish the checkout process to buy an item they loved. Keeping this experience hassle free involves a great User Interface on both computer screens and mobile screens, seamless information access, secure and easy checkout processes with popular payment facilities and above all, a scalable technology architecture that is able to handle huge spikes in traffic.
New customers arrive from different sources and as far as online retailers are concerned, it is quite easy to track the source of each sale through analytics. It is essential to collect vital customer info causing minimal or no inconvenience to first time buyers. Through registration process and geo tagging, it is easier to determine geographical location and thereby understand demographics of shoppers.
So now that you have decided to collect data in as many ways as possible, the next question is what do you do with this data? It’s simple -This data should be utilized for further connecting with those buyers after they have made their first purchase on your website. It’s similar to the cross selling and up selling practices that retailers follow but here the suggestions should be as precise and focused on the customer as possible. With analytics, you can determine their shopping patterns, their most searched items, their preferential price ranges for products, etc. This will help you guide them to new purchases with better offers thereby improving their brand loyalty on your site.
Once first time buyer lists are available, marketers should prepare a separate set of campaigns to inform them about how great your website the rest of the year. Educate them about how long term shoppers have rated you as the best and direct them to sign up for exclusive benefits such as cashbacks, premium membership packages and much more.
Online retailers should thrive to be as customer-centric as possible. On that note, it is essential to know how shopper’s especially first time shoppers felt about their experience. A simple survey or a dialog box asking shoppers to rate their buying experience right after the transaction step is over would be the basic feedback survey that you could use. And don’t just ask users to take the survey without giving back something in return. Say offer an X% discount for their next purchase if they complete your survey and you have the double benefit of getting closer to customer hearts and guaranteeing a second sale with the discount coupon.
So there you go folks, our 5 step guide to help marketer’s convert 1st time buyers into loyal shoppers. However it is important to keep in mind that your biggest asset is your existing list of loyal buyers and you should never drop your focus on them. Their word of mouth and social media signals promoting your brand is the biggest drawer of new shoppers to your website. Feel free to connect with us to learn more about how your digital strategies can be aligned to meet the expectations of today’s consumers.
“Target will open its doors at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day. Best Buy stores will open an hour earlier at 5 PM and Walmart will start a Black Friday event at 6 PM on Thanksgiving and most stores are open 24 hours.” This was a CNN News feed in Facebook on the eve of Thanksgiving. It indicates only one thing – Welcome to the holiday season folks. 2016 is coming to an end but the grand shopping season is just beginning.
It’s that time of the year when people head out to their old folks, meet up with their buddies, watch their favorite movies, travel like never before and most importantly spend on shopping like crazy. The National Retail Federation expects American consumers to spend an average of $935.58 during the holiday season. That’s like $650 Billion worth of sales opportunity for retailers in just a time span of 50 days or so.
Now comes the big question to retailers! How do you capture the most of this opportunity?
A single marketing or promo video embedded in your email campaign for the holidays holds the key to winning consumer hearts this holiday season. Video is the best way to bring out your marketing messages to consumers in all forms of digital media be it mobile phones, computers, television screens or even on city billboards and movie screens. Need some confidence boosters? Check out some interesting statistics about video marketing below
- And Adobe study pointed out in 2015 that 51.9 % of marketing professionals worldwide selected Video as the form of content that had the best ROI.
- Revenue growth rate of video equipped marketing strategies outran non-video strategies by nearly 50%
- Nearly half of internet users search for videos about a product or service before making a buying decision
- Consumers who view videos are 1.81 times more inclined to spend on a purchase when compared to non-viewers
Using these stats as a base, we clearly believe that email campaigns for the holiday season from retailers should definitely carry a video message embedded in it. Today there is enough tech available in the market that offers the best video experience in each medium after identifying the email client you consumer is using. Sometimes all you need to do is include a static image in your email with a play button on top of it which directs the user to a YouTube or Vimeo channel where the video is uploaded.
And you don’t have to shoot a professional ad of your offering to embed in a promo email. Even a smartphone with a pretty good camera would do the job for you. The video may be a tip on how to use your offering in a better way or hidden benefits or comparisons or anything that users are required to know about your product or service.
Videos in emails have created some fantastic results for marketers globally. Some have reported as high as 65 percent increase in click-through rates and lowered unsubscribes by as much as 26 percent. Your Thanksgiving emails may be already out but the holiday shopping season has just begun. So there is enough time to shoot some fabulous videos and use them in your email campaigns. Do share your success stories as well to inspire more marketers to follow this trend.
Buyer Personas are an essential part of both digital and conventional forms of marketing. As a marketer, creating a buyer persona is the first major task that needs to be on your to-do list when you are entrusted with marketing products and or services for the brand or company that employs you. If you take the case of any successful organization in any business domain, they would have executed at least one strategy based on buyer personas. If you are still not convinced, then have a look at the following statistics about buyer personas.
- Targeted persona strategy increases sales leads by 124%
- Email campaigns using buyer persona targeting has witnessed twice the open rate and 5 times more click through rate
- 55% growth in organic search traffic
We can publish even more statistics but assume that you are already convinced with these. The bottom line is that buyer personas enable you to think from a customer’s mind and identify what is the best way to connect with them. No more guesswork and assumptions but a solid set of 3 or 4 buyer personas that will define more than 90% of your consumer base. So far we have been speaking about getting more leads or closing more sales with perfect buyer personas. The question now is how do you select the perfect buyer persona for your business? The answer lies in another marketing arsenal – A/B Testing.
If you thought A/B testing was just used for deciding on the perfect landing pages or email campaigns for promotions, then you are mistaken. A/B testing allows you to take data supported decisions on how incremental changes can improve performance of an entire system be it landing pages or email campaigns or in this case even the selection of your buyer personas.
With A/B testing you can steadily improve the quality of your buyer personas. In simpler terms it will help you to fill areas of your buyer persona where you experienced uncertainty. Let us take an example to point out the real benefit of using A/B testing for your buying persona.
Consider yourself to be in charge of marketing for a new digital product launch for a commercial bank. The product is a new insurance package for which the bank wishes to see a good number of subscribers in a short month. You start with building the ideal buyer persona for the product. Assuming that all studies point out to fear as the number one motivation of your potential customers to buy the product. Fear for their lives or for their loved ones who might be affected due to lack of insurance facilities, etc. Your buyer persona is created with fear as the central theme and you decide upon a marketing campaign centred on this single reason. If it clicks then you will receive a tremendous amount of positive response and lead generation becomes a piece of cake. However if your perception of customer’s priority is wrong, then your efforts have a big chance of ending up in vain.
Here is where A/B testing comes into picture. Take the above scenario or persona as A and consider another scenario where buyers are willing to spend on insurance products for another cause say for tax savings as B. Now you have 2 valid cases to test. A proper A/B testing can give you tons of info to arrive at a decision. The information includes but not limited to
- A or B, Which is their main motive?
- Positive language or negative language! Which clicks best with your customers?
- Does promo schemes such as discounts or coupons or limited deals draw their attention?
- Do they react more to the benefits of A or to the benefits of B?
The list will go on but the ultimate result is that you will get quantifiable information on whether Plan A or Plan B is the perfect marketing campaign for the product. The one that witnesses more sign-ups or subscriptions will answer each of the above questionnaire and you can quickly summarize your results to arrive at an informed decision.
So there you have it folks, the perfect way to build your buyer persona. A/B testing can surely create drastic changes in your efforts and prevent marketing budgets from skyrocketing as it helps to avoid wrong decisions at the right time.
Checkout is perhaps the most decisive area in an eCommerce website. It is the place where people buy and retailers get paid. In other words, it is the area where the most crucial data interchange takes place. The data includes financial credentials, personal data of shoppers like address, telephone numbers, emails and much more as prescribed by the retailer’s delivery information norms. Retailers need to make this experience as smooth, simple and secure as possible for shoppers and win their confidence. From our experience in helping some of the most prolific online retailers, we have created a list of 6 most coveted essentials that an eCommerce Checkout process should have. Let’s have a look at each of them:
In a majority of cases, a visitor at checkout is a genuine buyer who wants to buy the product at the listed price. He or she might have already put in a considerable amount of thinking before arriving at the purchase decision. Their only aim now is to finish the checkout ASAP. This is where the Checkout forms need to be as simple and flawless as possible to enable a quick completion of the transaction. As a retailer, your success lies in the ability to offer a Checkout process that requests only the bare essentials needed to complete the transaction and deliver the product. Having a single page checkout process is the best option. No unnecessary buttons, information fields, surveys, recommendations, etc. should consume the time of shoppers.
Many eCommerce companies employ some of the best financial security policies during checkout to ensure that financial or personal data of shoppers are not compromised at any point of time. However it has been repeatedly proven that displaying certificates of your safe shopping framework like the verified payment options, trustmarks or trademarks of recognized security providers and merchants, etc. will increase confidence in buyers and accelerate the checkout process.
Enclosing the Checkout
By enclosing, we meant to isolate the checkout page from the rest of the website’s navigational features and other tabs to give only a bare essentials view of the checkout process. This adds up to the simplicity parameter we mentioned above and relieves shoppers from having to focus on too many options and ultimately guide them to a faster checkout.
Guest/Express Check out
Guest checkouts are fast catching up with shoppers today. After all you only need an email address to continue your association with a shopper after they have made a purchase. This logic translates into guest or express check out where you do not force people to create an account on the website to shop. Of course you get less of their data, but there are other ways to gradually collect them. When a shopper is at the checkout page, the primary objective is to get them to complete the purchase and not get them to divulge more of their personal data which could lead to loss of the sale.
We have already pointed out earlier that it is best to have a single page checkout process to better serve shoppers. But in case you prefer to have a multipage checkout process or multiple tab check out process in the same page, it is vital to let the customer know how much ground they have covered in the checkout. A single progress bar on top or an indication of the percentage they have completed in the checkout will be of great use to shoppers.
This is one piece of information you should not leave out on any stage of the checkout process. Make sure you have a persistent area of the checkout screen dedicated to showing the cart. This will allow the shopper to have a crystal clear idea of what they are going to pay for right from the initial stage in checkout. They will not have to abandon the checkout process midway after realizing they missed out on buying something.
This is our compiled list of essentials that every eCommerce site should have on its Checkout process. The whole concept behind all of these is to help the shopper complete the transaction in as fewer clicks as possible. If you are an online retailer, it is highly advised to follow these footsteps and ensure that you satisfy buyers by offering the most user friendly checkout experience they can imagine.
I’ll never forget the joy and relief the first time I did all my holiday shopping online. No lines at the mall, no parking, no lugging boxes to and from the car. It took all the stress – and friction – out of the shopping process.
As the e-commerce industry has matured, innovation has focused on eliminating friction points for busy, stressed customers:
- One-Click Shopping reduces the number of steps to put something in your shopping cart and check out
- Same Day and Next Day Delivery satisfies immediate needs and saves time from running to the store or mall
- Improved product search makes it easier to find items in a large ecommerce catalog and get just what you need (or want)
- Improved site performance so online shoppers don’t waste time or deal with poor page performance
- Mobile friendly sites engage shoppers on the go and to satisfy their micro-moment needs (which are typically driven by mobile interactions)
The net result is that e-commerce now totals $340 billion in spending and counts for more than 10% of total retail sales.
This is great for shoppers. For back-end business users? Not so much…
This innovation has been great for shoppers and consumers, but has also created a vegetable soup of technologies for business’s to manage – CMS, PIM, ERP, OMS, VM, AVS, POS and more!
It also means businesses have had to invest in staff and resources to become “technology shops” rather than focusing on their product category core competency or customer segment they serve. This technology fueled innovation has also come at a high cost thanks to traditional on-premise software with hefty licensing and implementation costs (not to mention hosting and ongoing support).
That’s why the cloud is the next revolution – to reduce friction on the backend
Over the past few years we have seen solutions come to market with platforms designed for smaller online retailers. But recently we have also seen the industry’s largest players “go all in” on cloud – including Oracle’s 2015 launch of the Oracle Commerce Cloud and Salesforce’s recent acquisition of Demandware.
Cloud based e-commerce is going upmarket and is about to become the most disruptive force since the first virtual shopping cart came online.
One of the key factors driving this transition is that the market has matured and the processes and software that enable companies to get online quickly and generate revenue have become standard best practices. This has enabled e-commerce software providers to take proven models and processes and leverage economies of scale to build solutions that help online retailers get to market quickly without the traditional headaches.
Some benefits of this new paradigm include:
- Faster time to market thanks to a proven, scalable implementation processes
- Common functionality and skill sets across platforms that enable rapid business user adoption
- Standardized technology reduces the need for complex integrations or customizations
- Configurations instead of coding make implementations faster and less dependent on technical resources
- Robust functionality delivers traditional enterprise level features to a broader customer base
All of this means reduced friction for businesses that need to reinvigorate their e-commerce programs and compete in an ever increasing busy marketplace.
Reduced friction means a new focus on experience instead of tools
In the long run, this cloud driven e-commerce revolution is going to go full circle and come back to the customer by reducing friction for them too. In a future where back-end users and business managers have access to flexible, scalable e-commerce technology, it means they can return to their core focus and brand value promise – their customers.
It’s a premise that once the tools are easy to implement and use, you can focus on your core purpose and differentiating your products and content in the market rather than trying to figure out how to use the technology.
An e-commerce revolution is coming. While technology is the driver, it will change how online retailers run their e-commerce businesses and will drive new skill sets. Early adopters will ramp up quickly to compete with established market players.
And thanks to this revolution that will reduce back-end friction, we will see continued growth throughout the entire e-commerce marketplace.
Conversion rate optimization for e-commerce sites is the art and science of getting more web visitors to take action and becoming a customer or a lead. It includes getting web visitors to register, opt-in, download, refer a friend, and click to chat or making a purchase.
To ramp up your conversion rate, it’s not a matter of guessing and hoping. Specific tactics need to be implemented to reach the goal of conversion rate optimization. Here’s a list of five tactics to take your conversion rate to the next level.
Home Page Optimization
Using analytical tools like Google Analytics, you can determine which categories and products are performing best. Once these are identified, the top-selling products should be on the home page in recommended products or banner sliders.
Also, consider adding a professional video of one of the products. Videos command attention and help the user make a connection and draw a conclusion about the product. For example, if you’re selling handmade artwork, show a video of an artist crafting his work. Clearly showing prospective customers different ways they can place an order will also cater to those who have buying preferences, such as ordering by phone, online or by fax.
The navigation menu should make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. The category structure should be specific and include links to information that users would actively search for. The number of categories should correspond with the size of your inventory. If you create too many categories, it will only frustrate the user.
In addition, categories should be created based upon what people are searching for. You can find out what visitors are searching for by using Google Analytics product search box. Using categories based on popularity of products and users’ preferences instead of traditional categorization can have a positive effect on the conversion rate.
Product Page Optimization
Today, online consumers want to experience a website and not just browse it. Good product images add life to the product and capture attention. The default image should be high quality. Instead of using generic pictures, opt for images of real people using the product. Don’t settle for just one image either. Show multiple images and from different angles. The product’s description is another important element in improving the conversion rate. Here’s some tips to make product descriptions more compelling:
- Highlight important features at the beginning of the product description.
- Avoid hype.
- Offer both a detailed and summary description. The detailed description will help those on the fence come to a buying decision, and the summary description will satisfy those who are in a hurry.
- Use bullet points to make the information easier and quicker to read.
- Link out to information on return policy, shipping and FAQs.
The effective use of symbols, icons and text will help avoid users abandoning the purchase during the checkout process. Using these elements on the checkout page will help overcome objections and buyer apprehensions.
The checkout page should reflect site security, transparency, payment methods and FAQs. Letting your customers know that your site is secure enhances buyer confidence, and showing all payment methods will cast a wider net. Be sure to have a persistent shopping cart on your site. If the user goes to the checkout page and finds the cart is empty, they are likely to abandon the shopping cart instead of going through the buying process again.
Be sure not to make users enter the same information twice. For example, it’s just plain frustrating for buyers to have to enter their shipping address in two information fields. Avoid this step by offering a checkbox for those who want to use a different billing address. Streamlining the buying process will have an impact on positive conversion rates.
All of the above methods should be tested regularly to ensure that your pages and overall store is converting optimally. Testing can be done in various ways.
The most common testing method that you will encounter is A/B split testing. A/B split testing is exactly what it sounds like, you’re taking two variations and then testing them with your audience. The idea is to have a key metric in mind to help measure success, this could be the number of signups, for example.
If you want to dig deeper into more advanced conversion rate optimization methods, using multivariate data analysis is a smart way for e-commerce owners to identify buying trends and analyse specific data for market research.
Businesses can make intelligent decisions on consumer buying patterns, target groups and what products to offer. The data displayed in columns and rows makes it easy to analyse the information in a meaningful manner. It’s just another way to get the information needed to take your conversion rate optimization to the next level.
This is a Guest Post by Owen Sondergaard, who is an avid writer and blogger. Writing for CAMO Software, Owen has over 8 years experience in the data industry.
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