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6 ways to rock e-commerce

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Global online sales exceeded $1 trillion last year, and marketers have officially entered a new era of doing business. Mobile devices and social media are integral parts of the shopping experience, forcing e-commerce strategies to evolve. No longer do marketers wonder if campaigns are effective. Through analytics and marketing attribution, you can directly track a customer's digital footprint to see how the customer arrived at a point of sale. These new technologies present numerous opportunities to extend your marketing efforts and derive increased business value from e-commerce.


Whether the goal is to increase customer engagement, retention rates, or up-sell and cross-sell success, your e-commerce strategy provides plenty of opportunities. Thanks to the proliferation of data via social media and mobile, insights regarding customer behavior are extensive. As a result, the benefits of e-commerce extend beyond sales by providing detailed data regarding customer interests, past transactions, and product preferences.


6 ways marketers can start rocking e-commerce


Below are six steps marketers can use to take advantage of e-commerce to not only nurture existing relationships but also increase engagement and reach new customers.


Personalize your marketing for targeted demographics


User generated content, online reviews, and status updates can turn marketing and PR teams on their heads. Today's consumers love giving feedback to their networks. If your product is a miss, you can guarantee a customer will not stay quiet. Instead of fretting, take the reins and involve yourself in the conversation. Social media channels and e-commerce sites integrated with CRM systems provide a direct window to customers.


Direct customer engagement by a brand contributes to longer term and more valuable customer relationships. Through social media, customer interests and sentiment can be tracked in real time. Psychographic profiles use social data to help personalize outreach for individual customers. Is she into sports? Does he like rock or classical music? Interests say a lot about the products and brands customers find most appealing.


Multiple devices require intuitive digital design


Coordination between marketing departments and web or app developers is necessary to ensure optimal shopping experiences. Countless sales are lost every day due to faulty websites that fail to function properly on mobile. Even websites accessed from a laptop can have faults in functionality, which contributes to lost sales.


Marketers should collaborate with designers and developers in order to create e-commerce apps and websites that focus on the shopper and user experience. Faulty shopping carts that fail to accurately suggest similar purchases can hold back cross-sell opportunities. Similarly, if the payment process requires excessive clicks and pages, customers may cancel their purchasing plans altogether.


Use your brand's mobile apps to embed offers


As your company embraces branded app development for customers, it is important to treat the app as a viable marketing channel. With 44 percent of Americans using smartphones, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities are boundless. Customers can receive discounts and offers through branded apps that help integrate mobile with the in-store shopping experience. In an ideal world, you would have customers purchasing both through e-commerce and in-store.


Also consider adding to the in-store shopping experience by increasing opportunities for e-commerce. Make sure the merchandise mentioned in e-commerce offers is physically in stock. Remember that coordination between your e-commerce operations and necessary departments is crucial to a successful strategy.

Gamification of shopping with social media


Rewards, point systems, and offers are time tested tactics. However, in an era of social games and social media, shopping and loyalty programs have changed. Gamification of e-commerce through social media and incentivizing action through rewards can increase retention rates, customer engagement, and purchases. One effective approach would be to reward customers with points for sharing a product purchase on social media.


Another instance of gamification would be rewarding your e-commerce shoppers with in-store offers or rewards, and vice-versa. Social media functionality embedded with mobile apps can add to the experience of shopping by way of games that involve prizes and rewards. For instance, badges and offers for mobile and in-store purchases can increase cross-sells and up-sells.


Expansive and connected shopping experience


Customer outreach and customer relations need an update. Through the usage of brand apps linked to CRM systems, you can take customer engagement strategies to the next level. App usage and web visitor data can provide insights regarding how shoppers navigate e-commerce portals through mouse tracking or time spent on each page. Subsequent data from users can then be applied to optimizing online store design and product offerings.


To optimize the success of offers, you should also focus on creating apps that complement the in-store experience. For instance, provide shoppers with detailed lists of inventory. Consider sales lost due to lack of inventory. Thanks to mobile, it's possible to place an order, physically inspect the item, and pay while in-store but have it shipped home. This approach prevents a shopper from having a bad experience visiting the store and can result in increased customer retention.


Quantifiable and measurable marketing


Marketers need to adapt to the fact that customers are constantly connected. Social and mobile might seem like challenges to most marketers, but they are viable opportunities for innovation. ROI is key to any business process, and marketing attribution can identify which online marketing efforts contributed to your e-commerce sales. Analyzing the digital footprint of a customer, for instance, can provide details regarding what web interactions influenced a purchase.


E-commerce shoppers rely on social media, written reviews, and competitor websites prior to making a purchase. Analyzing the steps taken by customers who decided not to purchase your product is crucial. Such insights allows for proactive alterations to web pages, mobile apps, and e-commerce portals. Understanding the reasons for a purchase is useful, but understanding why a customer did not make a purchase is invaluable.


For a majority of companies, customer engagement only matters while shoppers are in-store, viewing an ad, or visiting an e-commerce site. Understanding the data stemming from social and mobile will empower marketers to know their customers and directly engage with them to serve their wants and needs. We all know the value of e-commerce and online shopping, but the next step forward is to embrace social and mobile intelligence.


Geo-spatial data and social data can tell you which groups of friends hang out at which stores. Mobile app usage and the data within can serve as fuel for analytics to extract insights regarding transaction history or shopping habits. It has never been easier for a marketer to delve so deep into individual customer sentiment and preference. In order to truly harness the growing opportunity provided by e-commerce, you need to embrace collaborative relationships with IT. With such a clear picture of the individual customer's experience with your brand, the next level of marketing is already here.


Prasant Varghese is a technical analyst at Icreon.


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Prasant Varghese is a technical analyst at Icreon. He works with clients from design and discovery through to successful implementation.  Prasant has a strong focus on mobile and has managed multiple mobile projects, with a specialization in...

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