The modern shopper takes far more time to explore their options and do their research before making a purchase. In the past, simply providing a satisfactory customer experience was enough to connect with consumers. But things today are decidedly more complex, and the change in consumer behavior has complicated and lengthened the buying process.
The digital journey often confuses and intimidates both shopper and marketer. The many entry points, combined with various opportunities for shoppers to abandon a purchase, make it easy for shoppers to disconnect and difficult for marketers to understand where things went wrong.
Consumers today are inundated with more marketing messages than ever before, so it’s crucial to create a meaningful connection with them. Unless you’re happy to turn customers off of your brand and miss out on revenue opportunities (not likely), you’ll want to steer clear of these five things that can totally derail that connection and drive sales downward in the process.
Failing to use consumer email behavior to target your customers. What a customer does when browsing can tell us a lot about them. When a shopper signs up for your email program on a particular page of your website, capture that information and use it to send a more tailored welcome message. For example, if a sign up occurs while a customer browses maternity clothes, chances are they’re not interested in men’s suits.
Likewise, when people view different pages of your site and leave without buying, send them targeted messages that relate to their browsing history. Similarly, if a customer goes so far as to place an item in their cart but doesn’t follow through and purchase it, why not send an abandoned cart message? You could even customize the message based on the content of the cart or the shopper’s purchase history. Remember: A little nudge in the right direction can mean all the difference, especially if that message compels them to buy.
Finally, consider your post-purchase messages. Do they enhance the customer’s purchase experience? If not, then your messaging at this phase of the customer lifecycle is likely irrelevant. If you don’t attempt to build a relationship with your customers, there’s less reason for them to remain loyal to your brand.
Sending irrelevant emails. Most consumers find emails useful only 15 percent of time and not useful nearly 60 percent of the time. And that’s because they lack relevance. If you don’t use your data to segment your audience, you’ll miss out. But this doesn’t mean you should segment every message you send 12 different ways. Consider using your customer data to incorporate relevant product recommendations into your emails. Intuitive product recommendations can help turn a batch-and-blast message into a much more personalized and effective one, and you don’t need a large team to do it.
Having no social strategy. A well-planned social strategy is fundamental to connecting with customers and driving sales. Our newly released report, Inside the Minds of E-Commerce Execs, surveys more than 400 ecommerce executives from around the globe and confirms that the mobile experience is essential to success.
In fact, 44 percent of U.S. respondents said improving the mobile experience has the potential to improve sales or profit, while 95 percent of U.S. respondents said mobile commerce is either critical or important to the future of their brand.
With social media and mobile now virtually inseparable, having a superficial social strategy just doesn’t cut it. You should spend time on your social plan and integrate it with your other marketing channels. Ask yourself these questions: Are you just posting images of products you sell? Do you fail to respond to people in a timely manner when they share? Do you not encourage engagement on your social sites? If you answered yes to any of these, you’ve got some work to do
Not connecting your online and in-store experiences. Online store inventory shows 10 units, but when I visit the store, they have none. Total fail! I have wasted my time, and now I’m frustrated. Having to print an email to redeem it? No, this is 2017! Let me just show it to you on my phone. And here’s one that practically never happens but should: Have the store associate THANK ME for being part of the email program. The two should work together to create a unified, consistent experience with your brand.
Having a poor BOPIS system. Offering buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) can really pay off for retailers, particularly because the majority of consumers who use this service end up buying additional items while in the store. But for customers, it’s all about convenience and the immediacy of ordering something online and being able to pick it up later that same day.
That’s the dream, but it’s not usually the reality. In many cases, I walk into the store to pick up my online purchase only to wait in an empty area of the store or stand in line while people make endless returns. Where’s the convenience in that?
Follow the Path to Success
If connecting with consumers and turning them into customers is the destination, then the five things I mentioned above will most certainly steer you off course. But don’t despair! Devoting the time and effort to effectively connect with your customers may seem like a daunting task, but with the right strategies in place, you’ll get to the promised land ― and it’ll be worth it.
As a former consultant with more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Greg Zakowicz has first-hand knowledge about the challenges facing the retail industry. Now, as senior commerce marketing analyst at Oracle + Bronto, he provides thoughtful insight to the Internet Retailer Top 1000 and is a frequent speaker at e-commerce events.