Running an online store? Bet you thought it would be easier than this! It’s tough out there precisely because eCommerce is such a big deal. More people than ever are shopping online, and more online stores are opening to meet the demand.
There’s a lot of money to be made if you get this right, but there’s a real risk of failure. In fact, studies have shown that, while total online retail revenue is expected to surpass $4.058 trillion in 2020, 8 out of 10 eCommerce stores will fail. This means that most stores won’t get a slice of that money pie.
Why? It all comes down to strategy - or lack thereof. Most people who open a new store do it blind. Any success they have is due to luck, timing and sheer enthusiasm, and that success is short-term at best.
The good news is that, despite such fierce competition from rival stores and foreboding odds, it’s still possible to stand out from the crowd and take the lion’s share of customers in your target market over the long-term. If you can put in place a well-thought out strategy that works, there’s no reason why your store can’t survive, thrive - and scale.
Let’s take a look at 6 strategic ways to make your mark in the eCommerce world.
Add Customer Reviews
I can’t overestimate the importance of this one. According to research, shoppers take online reviews to heart more than word of mouth these days. In fact, as many as 90% of us will be persuaded to buy something on the back of an online review.
What do online reviews do that’s so important to customers? Online reviews give your store credibility and act as social proof. These are very powerful things in the digital world as they help to build a level of trust between you and shoppers that’s missing.
Let’s imagine that a shopper who’s never heard of your store before sees it advertised on Facebook. A bit curious, they click a link and enter your store. They’re miles away from the end of the buying process at this stage, however. Without any hint that anyone before them has bought from your store and been thoroughly satisfied with both the product and the customer service, they’re likely not to buy from you.
Below you can see a list of reviews for a pair of shoes on NORDSTROM. The user can read through as many as they like until they reach their final decision.
There’s actually another reason why you need to be leveraging customer reviews. Moz has done some research on this one and found that Google uses online reviews as a ranking factor. In other words, positive reviews help you climb the Google rankings, which in turn makes your site more visible to buyers. Traffic increases and, because you’ve got online reviews displayed on your site, so do your conversions!
“But what if no one leaves me a review?” you might ask.
Simple - ask. Send an email after each purchase that politely asks the buyer if they could kindly take a minute to leave a review. This can be a time consuming task, though. If there is a better area where you could be spending your time, it may be a good idea to seek out a review management software. One that has a plan that meets your needs.
Review management software can collect, integrate and distribute real customer reviews - making your life a whole lot easier. Trustpilot offers free and paid plans, which will work no matter your company's size or budget.
Perhaps your business requires more assistance. A ready-to-go solution that displays customer feedback on your website and much more. If this is the case, the more advanced plans may be better suited to help excel your growth.
Implement a Strong Content Marketing Campaign
One of the biggest shifts in consumer behaviour we’ve witnessed over the last few years is a desire to be marketed to - and a real aversion to be sold to.
Millennials dominate the economy and they’ve grown up in this digital world of ours that’s rich with content. Millennials happen to like content (they create a lot of it themselves) and they want you to engage them with content, too.
Really not sure what an online store can stand to gain from producing content?
The stats speak for themselves on this one: With a content marketing strategy in place, the average eCommerce store can boost their conversion rate to 2.9%. Without a content marketing strategy in place? The conversion rate is dawdling down at 0.5%.
Why is this? What makes content marketing so effective?
It all comes down to trust once again. To get shoppers to buy from you in 2018, you have to build a relationship with them so that they trust you. And you can do this via content that educates, informs, engages and even entertains.
Content - be it video, blogs, podcasts and so on - breaks down barriers and opens up opportunities for dialogue and interaction.
Below you can see the Life section on Coggles website. It contains lots of editorial content that focuses on building a relationship with its readers, rather than constantly selling to them.
There’s more. Content gets shared on social media. It can even go viral, and in the meantime create a real buzz about your store. Content reaches customers where they are.
The best thing? It doesn’t even need to cost you much money at all.
Naturally, you don’t need to use all platforms. The ones you should focus your efforts on are:
- Facebook - it’s home over 2 billion users and still the number one place to reach your core audience with content that educates them on your company and products while spreading awareness of your brand.
- Instagram - it’s a great place to build a buzz about your next product launch with visuals that catch the eye
- Twitter - if your customers want to reach you and ask a question, it’s very likely that they’ll do so on twitter
Here are some tips for your next content marketing campaign:
1) Create as much content as possible.
2) Share curated content (content not created by you) that’s relevant to your store and its values.
3) Circulate - put your content out on the right channels.
4) Include powerful CTAs - content is your best chance to get people to take an action. Want them to visit your store? Engage and lead them with content, and end with the money shot.
Improve Customer Service
If your customer service is amazing, customers will come back. Even better, they’ll probably tell their friends all about you. One-time customers will turn into loyal ones, and this is exactly what you want.
Top-notch customer service should be near the top of your list of priorities. But what do you need to do?
For one thing, it’s time to add chatbots to your site if you haven’t already done so. Chatbots do the things you can’t - they respond to customer questions instantly, no matter what time of day it is, resolve problems and provide satisfactory answers. The best thing? Customers like them!
Don’t forget to add an FAQ section to your website too, and be active on social media. As mentioned above, customers usually take to Twitter to ask questions, so you need to be active on that platform.
And when people leave those reviews we mentioned earlier? Always reply to them - even the negative ones.
Below you can see the website MightySkins provide a FAQ section on their website. In this page they also provide their email address to make it easier for customers to contact them:
Strengthen your Brand’s Aesthetic with a Logo
Lastly, how many eCommerce stores do you see that have an official logo? Many sell just on Amazon and thus have no logo - and therefore no brand identity.
If you want to form a strong relationship with your customers, you need a brand that people recognize. A logo is the centrepiece of your brand.
Below you can see the fun and youthful design of Bliss' branding. This eCommerce store sells spa products and stays true to their product feel with their logo and also website design.
When designing your logo, make sure you keep it simple. Having to much going on with the design will distract your customer from the purpose of your website. In contrast, a stripped down format will make your logo easy to remember for your customers.
Your logo must also be optimized for mobile. Always keep in mind the scalability of your design when your customers will be reading it off a miniature screen from their tablet or phone. Top tip: If you choose to use images, keep them clean and ensure they have a minimalist design.
Not sure how to create one? Shopify has an amazing free logo maker tool that lets anyone create a cool logo in minutes! Conclusion
These are 4 strategic ways to make your mark in the eCommerce world. Remember that in 2018, it’s all about trust and building better relationships between you and your customers. Get that right and you should be just fine.
Michelle is a content writer with a knack for storytelling. She writes content for Heroic Search, an SEO company based in Tulsa. When she is not writing she is catching up on reading her latest marketing book of choice.