Survey Reveals Customer Experience Key to Online Success

The 11th Annual Mystery Shopping Survey from the e-tailing group is out and it suggests that leading online stores are optimizing their sites features to generate more sales.

If you follow me you’ll know this is one thing I continually say. Your site must provide the visitor with a functional and pleasant customer experience and that often starts with elements relating to design.

The merchants who are seeing the best results are focusing on executing strategies that take the online shopping experience to higher levels. They are increasing efficiency of processes and developing customer retention programs; rethinking promotions, adjusting content, and refining search. These elements along with others combine to create a sense of community that directly speaks to their target.

Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group states that e-commerce stores must consider rethinking promotions and include a variety of creative options if they want to remain competitive in a tough economy. She goes on to say that price is even more likely to be a key factor in consumer purchasing during this difficult time. I touched upon this very concept a bit in one of my recent articles Shoppers are Still Searching but Where They Are Searching has Shifted.

The trend among those successful online merchants is to structure marketing promotions that get the sale immediately. To do so they are often utilizing limited-time-only sales as evidenced by a 24 percent jump in such to 42 percent in 2008; up from 18 percent in 2007.

Here are several key findings of the survey:

  • Free shipping continues to be a promotional standard. Various free shipping models were present including free shipping with conditions. Another past article I wrote titled Shipping Promotions that Drive More Sales elaborates on this finding.
  • Reworking the on-site search to present more reliable results which get the customer to the product they seek faster is a priority. Unreliable search results, or those with products not even closely fitting the search itself can cause a poor customer experience and lead to lower conversion rates.
  • The addition of strategically thought out rich media content such as video to your product descriptions can increase the customer confidence and help make the buying decision easier.
  • Adoption of Social Media tactics to create a community around the business is becoming paramount in developing a loyal following. From blogging to bulletin boards to applications such as Facebook, successful online merchants are finding these “community nurturing” channels an important component in the success of their brand. In fact, 26% of store owners report successfully using blogs as marketing tools which is up from just 10% last year.
  • The consumers desire for unbiased peer-to-peer product insight has elevated the role product ratings and reviews plays in helping them make an informed buying decision.
  • The survey reveals that 81 percent of online store owners are embracing Refer/E-Mail a Friend features compared to 74 percent last year.

What Does it all Mean?

In short, if you are to be successful online you should consider taking a close look at how you get customers involved in your business. It’s the total customer experience from the moment they learn about your business to the moment they make a purchase which will determine if you will win or lose online. You must consider expanding your marketing reach to include Social Media as a way to build community — a vital role in building trust and loyalty.

If you need help implementing a Social Media Marketing campaign I offer a few packages that will help you get that accomplished. Contact me for more information.

From weekly blogging packages to full media utilization of Facebook, Twitter and more, I’m sure there is something for everyone. Likewise, I am available to coach store owners toward developing successful promotional strategies which increase conversion and build business as well. Just drop me a note.

To your success!

ECommerce Marketing Tips for Valentines Day

January 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Marketing Strategies, Social Media

I read an interesting article that gave a few ideas and real world samples of e-tailers using various marketing tactics for Valentines Day. I liked the article because it went back to a few “basics” but more importantly pointed toward the use of social media channels to drive interest.

Let me say now that if you don’t have a social media marketing plan in place for your store, you really must consider one. The viral / word-of-mouth power of social media alone is something you can’t overlook.

Proper social media marketing can take time and it does take dedication, but the results can be very beneficial when followed through. If you want to learn more about the social media marketing packages I offer for ecommerce businesses feel free to contact me.

Not Just a Hallmark Holiday

Some say Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark Holiday” (because it can be associated with helping increase sales of Hallmark cards to others) but heck, you don’t have to be Hallmark to take advantage of the event — and if you aren’t taking advantage of it, you’re certainly missing the “opportunity boat.”

I see it as yet one more opportunity to use the media and social awareness of an event to increase sales through offering limited time only specials, products, etc… So if you haven’t thought about marketing strategy for it yet (I’m sure you’ve planned a 6 – 12 month promotional calendar as I have many times preached in the past right?) it’s time to start.

The article I read listed these as a few of the ways you can take advantage of Valentines Day — no matter what type of retailer you are.

  1. Create a special Valentine’s Day product or service. The article suggests creating (if you have the ability) a special product or service directly related to the occasion and then promote that product / service on your site as well as on complementary sites, via e-mail, and social media sites. I like the social media route for this type of holiday as it fits very well into that viral methodology. If you can’t make a special product, then consider making a package consisting of a few of your existing products bulked together into a one time discounted price.
  2. Create a “catchy” video (not an outright ad) and upload it to YouTube. Video is a very popular method of message delivery on the internet now and really gives you the opportunity to “say more with less”. In effect, you can create your own commercials (however, for best results try to avoid a straight out advertisement — you won’t get very far with that) which showcase your company and its products. This is super effective if done correctly and can lead to a huge stream of traffic in a very short time (make sure your server can handle it) if implemented correctly. If you are looking for help developing a YouTube marketing campaign, I am available for hire.
  3. Use Facebook to get the message out. Another social media option (and there are quite a few) would be to use Facebook in order to develier your message. I’m not talking about advertising on Facebook. I’m talking about creating your own Facebook profile, building a decent friend list or developing a Facebook application (or even a group) that fits your product following. Once you have their attention, you can get virtually any message you want to them — and they will be listening.
  4. Use email, cross channel marketing, and special promotions. This strategy brings us back to some of the basics of generating sales. Strong email promotions to your current customer list, reaching out to your target market using a variety of traditional channels, and developing special promotions are always sure to help the sales pipeline.
  5. Use coupon codes that relish in the moment. Even if you decide not to offer a special promotion (why you wouldn’t is beyond my understanding) you could use a current promotion and simply change the coupon code to something relating to the holiday. For example, let’s say you have a coupon code that is available every day and it gives customers a 15% discount on all orders. Keeping that promotion and changing the promo code to something like “CUPID” for Valentine’s Day might set the mood and help interest more customers to buy.

Even if your product / service does not fit the Valentine’s Day theme, you really should consider doing something to take advantage of the event — even if it is simply offering a survey for driving traffic that asks a question such as “Tell us what you consider to be the most romantic place in the world.” The idea here is to simply get people interacting with your site.

No matter which route you choose, you should consider some type of marketing approach to take advantage of special calendar events now and into the future. In addition you should consider developing a social media marketing plan that utilizes those valuable channels available to you via the internet.

To your success.

Cool Tool to Find Your Google Analytics ID

January 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Website Analytics

Ok, I realize it’s not that difficult to find your Google Analytics ID number, but a handful of questions have come in to me over time that I felt warranted me posting a link to this interesting tool which tells you what your Google Analytics ID is.

I know, some maybe saying well, that’s pretty easy, and why would you want to find it out anyhow? Well, I’m sure there are any number of answers for this most of which I cannot answer myself. But, for those who need a tool like this, it’s here.

It’s not for everybody, but it might be helpful for some.

Here’s the link http://yoast.com/easily-google-analytics-account-id/

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