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I had the privilege of interviewing a few eCommerce and Digital Marketing Experts. Here is what I found. Good news is that they all came to an agreement on a few very important topics. The bad news is that it might take some effort to implement these changes, but the result will transform your business.
This is what they had to say in summary:
- CPC is Good but Expensive, Focus on Strategy and Omni-Channelling
- Lead with Customer Service and Nurture for Retention
- E-Mail is King, SMS has huge engagement and Webpush is growing
- Think Longer Term, Build a Relationship. While acquisition is an outdated concept
- Nurture your connections through personalization and deep value
- Expand your markets internationallty, understand cultural differences to succeed
- Customers adore well built Mobile Apps
Gaining the Advantage in eCommerce
The most prominent and commonly used tool in eCommerce has to be Cost Per Click. It is very direct and big businesses understand they have strong brand recognition which bids well with mass market consumers. We know just how expensive they can be, often taking up your entire budget for the month. What makes matters worse is the high degree of competition for keywords which only drives the prices even higher, mostly by larger businesses. As a legitimate alternative to these CPC ads, our experts advise that you focus on business strategies and the channels that you use. These strategies are intended to create deep and genuine value for your business as opposed to simply paying for traffic which can seem very unimaginative.
The first and most important observation that I’ve made while speaking to these leading digital marketing and e-commerce experts, was the combined commitment towards customer satisfaction. I noticed that this concept of customer satisfaction was mentioned multiple times with the ultimate goal of impressing the customer and eventually acquiring their loyalty. Several of the interviewees suggested a major shift taking place away from acquisition and towards customers retention. Stating “This is your best hope of leveling the playing field against established brands”.
These strategies rely on personalization, accumulation and active communication. If these three guiding principles are followed in a manner conforming to the experts interviewed, we are expected to see a more refined and cost effective marketing strategy. Large businesses tend to be very brutish with their marketing, leaning towards paid channels and often beating out smaller businesses for vital keywords. While the proposed approach focuses on understanding the customer, nurturing your relationship with them and actively keeping in touch. “Through a deep understanding of the shopper, you can also create deep value.” This of course is something that larger businesses fail to accomplish, generally opting to fulfill the mass market demand and leveraging their scale.
Personalization is at Poor Standard in the Industry
ECommerce is a diverse space with millions of stores we can choose from to fulfill our needs. There is truly no telling left from right if every online store is the same. The average business fails to appeal to a specific demographic and understand their shopping preferences enough to create a “different” experience. This disconnect only gets worse, the larger a company grows. With every flaw we find, we also gain an opportunity.
We haven’t really identified what personalization means in context, only that it's related to understanding the customer and their overall shopping experience. If I were an avid sport enthusiast; then my very particular taste in clothing, equipment and nutrition would decide my loyalty to a brand. If I had a preference in payment methods, delivery times and customer service; then I may also be motivated to continue shopping or to stop altogether. The reason why personalization is so hard to grasp has to do with the fact that it’s relative to a situation and on the information you gather about your customer. In simple terms, personalization is about building your brand around the customer, which can be a challenge in its own respect.
Lead with Customer Service and Nurture for Loyalty
One of the most impactful recommendations that our experts made had to do with customer service and the way we provide the industry leading care. It isn’t much of a surprise to some but to me it was. Nurturing your customers, going the extra mile, thinking ahead; all had to do with providing the best customer service. Something as simple as “a recipe recommendation or installation instructions if you sell kitchen equipment”. Sending them a hand written thank you letter, or just reminding them that their purchase is valued and that you're thankful. When customers remember how terribly unhelpful or meaningless their previous communications were, their next choice if the inspiration were to strike will be you.
Playing the person means appealing to their memory, and speaking to them with intention; the intention to be remembered. It is the experts that have found that “We can create a deep and genuine service for them.” Based on these careful and nurturing intentions, we can create what they called a warm impression, which is necessary for brand loyalty. Our experts all agree that by going the extra mile you can create something people respect, which can make your business relevant when you were meant to be just another copy of the same old business model. My opinion is that this is the truth about growth. Nothing quick, nothing cheap or exploitive. A sincere promise of reliability and honest expectation.
The True Meaning of Loyalty
So how do we actually use this knowledge to our advantage? At this point all we really know is that we need to focus on long-term retention of shoppers and this doesn’t really reveal much. We can begin to understand the topic by considering a few things about loyalty, for instance, it can not be demanded and does not submit to our desires. Loyalty is something that is given through willingness and desire. Developing deep value has to do with factors that go beyond just the product itself. It involves the intention behind a product. It’s how sincere the people running the show are towards their customers. Trust, quality, packaging, customer service, delivery terms and speed, education and most of all honesty. The equation to loyalty is much more complex and delicate than we think, but becomes achievable once understood.
We also know that CPC is a tactic that is most commonly used by high bidding established companies and that these high costs can end up being counter productive for our brand and should we become over reliant, they could backfire. The only thing that CPC accomplishes is driving traffic to our store, but it is our core values that retain the customer. The truth is that we need to think about our strategy and the channels we use. There are surely better ways to spend the money we have reserved for Paid Ads, strategies that are stable and have longer lasting outcomes. These strategies are meant to be a strong representation of our brand. One of the most influential strategies is in the communication and commitment to the customer that we demonstrate across all our channels.
Building Brand Security
Quality of Communication
All along the purchasing and marketing process, across all your channels and all year round, you should be “collecting email addresses and SMS information”. Contact details and our ability to communicate to our customers is what ultimately determines the success of our marketing strategy.
Recommended by Experts:
- Project or create “Buzz” on all our new marketing strategies
- Actively collect and prioritize contact information
- Relay helpful content for your customers
- Be warm and open in your tone
- Use your channels to demonstrate your values or cause
- Preemptively provide information that the customer may need
- Offer live chat to resolve issues in time
- Email is king, sms is highly engaging and web push is growing
“Customer service is critical” and can be used strategically. When it comes to e-commerce, this will more than likely be the first time your shoppers encounter a human. In many respects Customer service is one of the most important and best opportunities for you to establish a reputation of higher customer understanding and intention. Demonstrating reliability and transparency through customer service is a form of assurance, which paves a path for the future.
Diversifying your marketing outreach is essential to hedging your bet, as an alternative to CPC and generating first time visitors. A comprehensive social media presence is an example of how you can consistently generate traffic to your business without any active management. This is also another opportunity to communicate your values and educate potential customers about your business.
Reviews and UGC
As opposed to encouraging reviews, our experts recommend that you focus on the customer by “promoting them”. Reviews and social media interactions demonstrate a history of consistency and trusting customers. As a fundamental strategy in building trust, reviews can be the difference between a conversion and a spooked customer.
Social Values and Inspiration
Appealing to customers at a social level is another fantastic way of establishing a relationship. Trends represent what people love and follow, which is a way to start a conversation. Following this same principle, representing a cause can be a powerful motivator and a very direct way of communicating your social values. Keeping up with what's socially popular or important is a direct way of joining forces in advocacy.
Other Influential Factors
Other factors such as the intrinsic value of the product, the unboxing experience and the delivery terms can also promote preferential treatment by the customer. Our experts recommend that you provide clear instructions on returns, delivery updates and a FAQ section to alleviate your customer service team.
Avoid Diluting your Brand
What could be the case for many new businesses “brand dilution”. This would force your company into a pit of no return, where you will struggle to recover from irreversible public opinion about your business and company. Large price discounts, poor customer service interactions and intrinsic values of your product. There are major warning signs that can damage your brand, but the most obvious and self inflicted pain is harsh underpricing. This often causes a perceived undervaluing of your product and organization as a whole.
Our Experts Also Recommend:
- Mobile Apps: As a quality of life improvement over traditional web browser shopping.
- Internationalization: As a way of expanding your market and blostering your sales
- Flash Sales: A way of offering the best prices in the market for a limited time, and preserving your value.
- Fear of Missing Out: Fomo is real and perfect for marketing a product.
Deep intrinsic value in a business is what truly defines our success in eCommerce and Digital Marketing. It is highly recommended that you follow these expert tips to build a strong relationship with your customers and create brand security. The experts interviewed are leaders of both eCommerce stores and Service providers and how deep understanding of true values like Loyalty. Growave is a marketing app that can help you elevate your business and bring a higher degree of functionality to your store. We also have wonderful articles on best practices in Digital Marketing on our blog.