Every ecommerce merchant has two goals: Getting new customers (acquisition) and keeping them coming back for more (retention). Having a great online shopping cart is only one step in this process. Below are 8 ways to drive customers to your shopping cart over and over again.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is crucial for an effective marketing campaign. The idea is to get a higher ranking on Google, Bing, Yahoo! or other Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) than your competitors. This takes a careful combination of ongoing quality content and carefully-selected keyword phrases. As an example, a florist might offer content about the care and maintenance of flowers using keywords about the particular flowers (e.g., “roses” “tulips”) or occasions (e.g., “weddings,” “proms”) they are targeting.
This is a process where a merchant places banner ads or buttons on a secondary (affiliate) site, and pays the affiliate site’s owner a referral fee or commission for each lead or customer received. Common types of affiliate programs include pay-per-click, pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale.
This is a common practice in which companies pay to have their ads appear at the top of SERPs. But why take a chance on which keyword phrases to use when you can fine-tune your campaign to reach just the right customer? Several online marketing companies are available to help you do this.
With all the new and exciting social media platforms you are probably wondering why I am spending any time on (yawn) email campaigns. Well, wake up! Email marketing is still one of the best ways to promote an ecommerce website. It offers actionable, trackable marketing that is easily customizable – at a price that’s hard to beat.
To avoid having your messages placed in the “spam folder” be sure your emails truly target customer needs and make it easy for people to opt in or out. To obtain and retain subscribers, be sure to offer something of value in each newsletter, such as informative articles, exclusive product offerings and limited-time offers. Need feedback on your site or its products? Create an e-mail poll or survey.
In simple terms, your customers are using social media, so you need to have a presence there too. However, like all other marketing tools, it is important to use social media in a way that supports your business’ core objectives. To support brand loyalty, you can ask people to click ‘Like’ on a Facebook page or offer a contest where people use the product in an interesting or unusual way (such as a cooking contest for a food product). If the goal is a direct sale, why not try offering special promotions that are only available through your social media channels? You can also offer your shopping cart directly on Facebook (F-commerce) to catch those impulse buys.
A word of warning – consumers consider social media to be a two-way conversation. If consumers contact you directly through social media (an activity you should encourage) you must have the capacity to respond in a timely manner. You can also encourage conversations by offering polls, surveys or comment forms.
Live chat is the next best thing to having one of your salespeople directly in your customer’s living room. A recent study by Bold Software found that:
- Fans of live chat have a considerably higher income than average, are more likely to be college educated and spends more money online than do typical shoppers
- One in five Web site shoppers prefer live chat to any other form of communication with an Internet retailer
- Of those who prefer live chat, 61 percent say they are more likely to buy because of the presence of live chat.
However, all of the advantages can go out the window if your staff is not well-trained on your products, services, prices and current promotions. In addition, many shoppers said they left Websites because of pushy chat invitations (such as freezing the Web site while offering a chat) – so subtly is in order here.
This is the practice of carefully studying who visits the site and makes purchases based on items such as marketing channel, message and medium. It can answer such questions as whether a visitor who enters the site via Facebook will have a larger chance of making a purchase than one who gets there through paid search. Several vendors offer this service such as Google Analytics (free), Coremetrics and iCrossing.
Integration of Marketing Channels
All of these ideas are great on their own, but work even better when channels are integrated. Why not offer e-mail subscriptions through the Facebook page and Facebook links through the e-mail newsletter? Where appropriate, Facebook users can be directed to the FAQ page on the main Web site, and the Web site can have a link to a Facebook page. Combining your e-commerce acquisition and retention strategies is the best way to move people toward your shopping cart.