Exciting times lie ahead for customers in the world of e-commerce. With competition rising and newer technology shaping customer expectations, consumers will find businesses going out of their way to capture their attention and drive engagement; the only way e-retailers can separate themselves from the herd is by forging an invincible bond with their audiences.
Getting a potential customer to your e-commerce store is only the beginning. The real challenge lies in keeping them engaged with your brand in an ongoing manner and gaining their loyalty. A loyal and engaged customer not only drives recurring revenue, leading to a consistent flow of revenues and profits, but also is the online ambassador for your brand recommending your store to other customers.
But, how can brands drive customer engagement? Here are 7 tips that have worked very well for our customers.
1) Mobile-first e-commerce
Mobile commerce is on a rise. Focus on a mobile-first strategy to create the right experience for them. This begins with the design of your e-commerce store, extends to your emails (promotional or otherwise) and even to other systems involved – like payments. Remember, every customer touch point is an opportunity to drive customer experience that they must remember the next time they consider buying a product.
2) Improve site performance and site usability
A good e-commerce experience gets kick-started with the page load time of your e-commerce store. A site that both loads fast and is easy to use can perform a lot better than the ones with either missing.
While there is enough information on how e-commerce stores can improve page load time, site usability can be a little tricky to understand. Site usability includes everything from how your site is structured (navigation), how your customers find your products (search), to how they place an order (checkout process).
Amazon is an excellent example of how site usability can be used to drive conversions. Let us consider the following two features as an example:
- 1-click ordering – 1-click ordering allows you to save your credit card details to your account, one time, to make future purchases convenient. For customers placing orders using mobile devices, say Amazon Kindle, it simply spells convenience.
- Product recommendations – Recommended products on the other hand displays products that complement the products the customer is currently viewing or are already added to the shopping cart. Amazon’s splendid algorithm offers suggestions that customers might not know they needed or possibly even existed.
3) Avoid static content
E-commerce stores are more than just stock photos and regular descriptions; keep your store lively with a variable mix formats; flippable animated pages is an example – this feature lends the effect of browsing through a catalog page-by-page. Videos are yet another alternative – most e-commerce platforms allow you to embed video along with still photos for your products. Interactive content like videos, 360-degree product views, etc. are known to drive customer engagement and improve conversions than just static images.
4) Personalization wins them all over
The idea of using an identical website or an email to target a wide section of the audience is arcane now. Advanced personalization tools and techniques have made it possible for businesses to customize every aspect of a customer journey to their context.
Personalization works because it makes the reader feel special; it makes a conversation personal and relevant forcing the consumer to take notice. The entire concept of personalization works around the varied interests exhibited by customers in their past interactions with your brand. Identify the important parameters for your brand, segment customers based on those parameters and target them.
5) Social proof your website
Customers always look for some reassurance that confirms their purchasing decision or takes them in that direction before a purchase is made. Leverage social proof as a way to, both convert those on the fence consumers and to provide positive reaffirmation to customers that have already purchased from you.
- Include reviews – Customer reviews go beyond their obvious social proof benefit and also help in better optimizing your product pages for search engines. Even bad reviews are an opportunity for you to showcase how politely and quickly you have worked to resolve the problem.
- Crowdsourced images – Having customers share images of the product in use has proven to be a highly successful tactic for a number of businesses. Encourage your customers to share your products used by them on social media by prominently displaying social share buttons on your product pages and website.
Gamification, as the name implies, is the application of game thinking and game mechanics, like challenges and rewards, to non-game contexts to affect behavior. It is all about using people’s desire for competition, status and achievement to drive the desired behavior. Games are addictive and can push people to linger on your site/app for longer. Besides boosting sales and customer loyalty, you will build an army of loyal promoters for your brand. Savvy retailers are already pushing brand awareness and lowering cost of new customer acquisition by leveraging such user-generated content (UGC). Loyalty programs and rewards can also be designed to encourage repeat sales, reviews, referrals, and social shares.
7) Do not ignore the smaller aspects
Exceeding customer expectations is the number one strategy for improving customer engagement; if your efforts are centered around your customer and his/her interests they certainly will come back for more. Often, customer satisfaction and loyalty do not come from big things but from small things often overlooked by most businesses.
- Product portfolio:Actively source products and build partnerships with third parties to fill the product gaps that you cannot fulfill on your own. This is perhaps a more powerful tool to hold the attention of your audiences; you will be well on your way to being a one stop shop for all needs as well as increase the average value per order.
- Free returns: In the online world where there are a lot of chances for mix up in orders; opening up a larger window for returns as well as making it free eases up the psyche of the buyer’s mind.
Here are few statistics related to factors affecting customer engagement in e-commerce.