According to Statista, global e-commerce sales increased by about 20% in each of the past 4 years. E-commerce retail sales in 2017 in the U.S. have shown substantial, continued growth, with 3rd quarter 2017 sales up by almost 16% from 3rd quarter 2016 sales.
The First Key to E-commerce Success: Understand Online Shopper Preferences
E-commerce giants like Walmart and Amazon account for much of the growth in sales in recent years. How much success other e-commerce businesses achieve is a function more than anything else of how well they understand and effectively respond to their customers — how those customers shop, how they want to be communicated with, and whether companies offer the products, services and features they’re looking for.
Many recent studies have attempted to better understand online shopper preferences. Consider, for example, these findings, drawn from a sampling of those studies:
- 75 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from companies that know their names and purchase histories, and who make recommendations based on those histories
- 63 percent of online shoppers have a better opinion of businesses that send valuable, relevant content
- The average shopping cart abandonment rate is almost 70 percent
- More than 50 percent of shoppers who abandon their carts will complete their purchase if a company offers a discount
The Second Key to E-commerce Success: Give Customers What They Want
The challenge for e-commerce marketers is less in knowing (theoretically) what online shoppers want, and more in accommodating those preferences through proactive strategies. Here are four strategies which will help you give your customers what they want, and increase online sales in the process:
1. Establish a Reputation for Expertise
The essence of content marketing is building trust and credibility by giving prospective customers information they can use to solve their problems and help them make more informed decisions. When you begin customer conversations with a sales pitch, that conversation is about you. When you begin by offering valuable information, the conversation is where it should be, squarely focused on your customers.
Let’s say, for example, you sell appliances online. You could send customers, through organic or paid search, to a landing page with rows of washing machines, and of course the usual product descriptions and prices. Alternately, you could send them to an article, “How to buy a washing machine with all the features you need, and without spending too much money.” When it comes time to buy, will that customer remember the company that made their initial foray a sales pitch or the one that helped them save money?
Being a thought leader isn’t about impressing customers with your knowledge. It’s about becoming a trusted partner in the buyer’s journey and based on that trust, increasing conversions and sales.
2. Segment Your Audience to Enable Personalized Communications
Your online customers are interested in different products, have different problems, and have spent different amounts of money on your site. The more effectively you accommodate those differences, the more successful you’ll be. Still, according to a recent survey from Receiptful, only 73 percent of e-commerce businesses were segmenting their audience.
The question, of course, is how best to conduct that segmentation. Although every business is different, most will benefit by identifying and tailoring messaging to (at minimum) the following customer segments:
- Customers who haven’t purchased recently: If someone hasn’t bought anything in, say, the past month, you might want to incentivize a purchase with a special promotional code, a code you don’t necessarily need to send to recent purchasers.
- Your top 1 percent: These are frequent and big-ticket purchasers, and they typically spend as much as your entire bottom 50 percent. You’ll want to prioritize them and ensure they have the best in online experience and customer service.
3. Leverage Social Media
According to HubSpot, 63 percent of Facebook and Twitter users go there for professional purposes. To increase your e-commerce sales, begin monitoring social media conversations about your business using tools like Talkwalker, a social media analytics tool which highlights conversational themes and benchmarks your performance against your competitors.
You should also use the e-commerce-friendly tools social media sites offer, like Facebook’s buy button and Pinterest’s buyable pins. Finally, post social media content which aligns with what your customers are talking about and includes links to relevant pages on your e-commerce site.
4. Recover Sales From Abandoned Shopping Carts
About two of every three shopping carts are abandoned prior to purchase — that represents an enormous opportunity for increased sales. The reasons for abandonment include everything from unexpected shipping charges to a byzantine checkout process, concerns about security and simple distraction.
To recover these sales, first, do some research to learn as much as you can about the reasons for cart abandonment on your site and fix whatever problems you find. Second, create an email recovery strategy which reminds customers of their purchase and persuades them to complete it. Finally, to maximize results, incentivize completed purchases by offering discounts and other perks.
E-commerce sales continue to grow with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The e-commerce businesses that succeed will be the ones which take the time to understand their target audience, the problems they experience online and the solutions they’re looking for. You can get to the head of the pack if you provide valuable content to build a reputation for expertise, intelligently segment your market, use social media to initiate meaningful conversations and create an effective strategy to recover abandoned shopping carts.
Perfect Pixel Marketing uses proven marketing tactics and data-driven optimizations to drive the best possible ROI for our clients. Contact us today to learn how we can help you acheive your marketing and sales goals.