4 tips and an action plan
Online shops are doing great. Established web shops report ever increasing revenues and new ones open their virtual doors every day. The consumer has definitely embraced the concept of shopping online. So, has online selling reached its apex?
not quite yet!
Because of the rapid expansion, competition is also growing. And as a result, profit margins are shrinking. Online retailers need to stay up to date with their technology. Making sure their emails and websites are designed to look good on any device, for instance. Responsive, fluid or adaptive design is the norm. They also are expected to excel at logistics (next day, or even better, same day delivery) and provide great customer experience.
Unfortunately, many web shops are sticking to ingrained habits while trying to find and retain customers. These habits are preventing them from making their business future-proof. Because, in business, stagnation equals regression, we have the following recommendations for online retailers who do not want to fall behind:
TIP 1. You do not need comprehensive personal data
When ordering from a webshop, the customer is routinely asked to register an account and create a profile with lots of personal data such as name, address, gender, date of birth and phone number before he is ‘allowed’ to proceed to the checkout. Even if registration is not compulsory, all these data must often be submitted. This increases the risk of annoyed customers (‘I don’t want to give out my phone number, and why do they need to know my birthday?”) and abandoned shopping carts.
Think about it: why would a web shop even need to know where the customer lives? The only information absolutely required is the delivery address. I am no logistics expert, but I’m betting that delivering to a pick-up point (whether for regular mail or a courier service like DHL or UPS) is cheaper and more convenient than home delivery. No more parcels left with the neighbours, or second deliveries to worry about. These are good arguments to actively encourage customers to opt for delivery to a service point.
* Bonus tip: make sure your pick-up point is open outside of office hours, in a supermarket for instance. Great service for working people!
“But …we need these data to ensure delivery!” I am hearing you say. Actually, no. I tested this out by removing the name plate from our house. Guess what? Letters and packages were delivered correctly anyway. Hence my advice to keep the ordering process short and simple. Something like this: Choose your article; pay here; tell us where you want it delivered. Offer your customers the option to create a profile, but don’t make it mandatory. To confirm a purchase, send delivery information and ask for feedback, all you need is a valid email address. You should, of course, always include an opt-in for a newsletter or offers by email somewhere during the process.
TIP 2. Profiles have a limited shelf life/are worthless
In our family, we usually share an account for a web shop. Because there is one person (guess who) who pays the bill, but mostly because it’s convenient: on a shared computer with a browser that stores the password, the next purchase is only one click away. Within our family, we have lots of different interests. But, although we each look at different articles in the shop, I only get emails offering great deals on PC’s, games and flat screen tv’s … because I originally registered the account and created a profile for an adult male.
Profile information is never static, even for one person. It changes with the passing of time. Moving house, getting married, children growing up and other changing circumstances all influence our preferences. Over time, profile information should be supplemented with search and purchase information, contact points and social media activity. If a shop sends an offer based solely on a customer profile, this needs to be up to date and enriched with extra information, otherwise, there is a good chance the offer will no longer be relevant.
TIP 3. Go for personalised content
Right now, my family and I are looking to buy a new hairdryer and an iron. As I am researching online, reading tests and reviews, comparing prices, I visit our regular webshop. This results in their banners popping up on other sites I visit. This is good remarketing practice, of course.
Imagine my surprise when their next regular newsletter (addressed to ‘Dear Mr. van den Boogaard’) once again offers me the best laptops, the latest games and the biggest TVs. How about sending me an email based on my recent search for hairdryers and irons? Wouldn’t it be great if they offered us relevant content, based on what we are actually looking for?
* Bonus tip: you can skip the individual salutation, personalised content is what impresses me.
TIP 4. Don’t send behind-the-times emails
While it’s a good idea to send me emails based on my recent searches on your website, don’t wait too long. Instead of clinging to the regular newsletter schedule, send me a mail with relevant content immediately after my visit.
* Bonus tip: To impress me even more, make sure your next newsletter also contains personalised content: related (not identical) articles, based on my search history.
Start future-proofing your webshop now!
Marketing automation helps you to automate many of the aforementioned processes, this saves time and effort, so you can concentrate on meaningful content and better communication with your customers.
Step 1: Take plenty of time to plan your next steps
This is the most important step. Do not rush, get as much information as you can. Choose the marketing solution that is the perfect fit for you and your company. This does not always mean the most elaborate and expensive one!
Step 2: perform an A/B test
A= mail based on customer profiles
B= mail based on search and purchase data
step 3: experiment with send times
Stop thinking in large campaigns and set send times. Get more out of client interactions. Sending individual, personalised emails right after a website visit is much easier than organising large campaigns for multiple target audiences.
step 4: base content on specific contact points
Whether this is a repeat purchase, a product review, a complaint or a repair. Try to be as relevant as possible in every interaction with your customers.
Would you like to learn more about our Marketing Automation solutions, or would you like to make an appointment for a demo (free of obligation)? Contact me, Pim van den Boogaard at CloseContact.
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