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 this holiday season, and more and more online stores are struggling 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 too. Indeed, 8 out of 10 eCommerce stores will fail with a lack of strategy and vision. This means that a lot of stores won’t get a slice of that money pie.
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 4 strategic ways to make your mark in the eCommerce world, and propel your store forward this holiday season.
1. Add customer reviews
According to research, shoppers take online reviews to heart more than word of mouth these days. In fact, as many as 89% of us will check online reviews as part of their online buying journey, and half of consumers consider positive reviews one of their top 3 purchase influences.
What do online reviews do that’s so important to customers?
Online reviews give your store credibility and act as social proof and third-party validation. These are very powerful things in the digital world as they help to build a customer and consumer trust.
Let’s imagine that a shopper who’s never heard of your store before sees it advertised on Instagram. 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. Without any hint that anyone before them has bought from your store and been thoroughly satisfied with both the product and the customer service, it's unlikely they will buy from you.
Below is an example of how to showcase both service and product reviews at key stages of the buying journey. Here, Dusk.com offer product reviews on every single product page, as well as service reviews on every page of the wesite. This means shoppers can read through as many reviews as they like, until they reach their final decision.
There’s actually another reason why you should be leveraging customer reviews. Research found that search engines use online reviews as a ranking factor. In other words, positive reviews will help you climb the Google rankings, which in turn, will make your site more visible to buyers.
With more visibility on search engines, comes an increase in traffic, and, with reviews displayed on-site, it'ls likely your conversion rate will increase too.
2. 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. In fact, we recently observed an 11% decline in trust globally, with only 71% of people admitting they trust consumer brands.
Millennials dominate the economy. They’ve grown up in this digital world of ours that’s rich with content, so they happen to like it (they create a lot of it themselves), and they want brands 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: Conversion rates are nearly 6 times higher for content marketing adopters. On the other hand, those who didn’t create the right content saw only a meager conversion rate increase of 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 Q4 (and all-year-round), you have to build consumer trust. 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 is a great example of content marketing on the Coggles website. Their Life section contains lots of editorial content that focuses on building a relationship with readers, rather than being pushy and 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.
Here are some tips for your next content marketing campaign:
Create as much content as possible.
Share curated content (content not created by you) that’s relevant to your store and its values.
Circulate – add your content to the right channels.
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.
3. Work on your 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 actually like them!
Don’t forget to add an FAQ section to your website too, and to be active on social media. Customers will check social media and reach out to you through Instagram, Twitter or even Facebook, so you need to invest time in those too.
And when people leave those reviews we mentioned earlier? Always reply to them – even the negative ones.
82% of UK consumers have a positive view towards companies that respond to reviews, and 64% of global consumers would prefer to buy from a responsive company over one that appears perfect.
If you're wondering how your industry does when it comes to responding to reviews, check out our latest data:
Reviews with replies (per industry)
Our data found that the industry with the highest percentage of reviews with replies is the Finance and Insurance industry (29%), and the industry with the lowest percentage of reviews with replies is the Events and Entertainment industry (15%).
Many brands overlook negative reviews. But responding to all feedback is crucial.
Negative reviews can be a blessing in disguise, and taking the time to reply could help you turn a customer's negative experience into a positive one.
Indeed, in our Bad Reviews report, we found that when customers feel their reviews have been responded to appropriately, more than half would shop at the same location again.
More than 2 in 5 customers would even go so far as to reverse their overall rating of the company and edit their review into a more positive critique.
And for 25 percent of people, how well companies respond to criticism can even help transition them from detractors to overall promoters of that brand.
Negative reviews help you collect valuable consumer insights, which can, in return, help you improve your customer service in the long run.
4. Strengthen your brand’s aesthetic
Lastly, if you want to form trusted relationships with your customers, you need a brand that people recognise.
Your brand's awesthetic is a part of your brand's identity, and it should be one of your top priorities.
Indeed, brand aesthetics has a strong impact on brand trust, so it's important to get it right.
Start by creating or identify your brand's personality and your brand's values, before deciding on a visual identity.
Below is a fun and youthful example from Bliss. This eCommerce store sells beauty products, and stays true to their value and product feel with their branding and website design.
When designing your brand's visual identity, 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 (and therefore, your brand) easy to remember for your first-time visitors. Using a signature colour can also increase your brand's recognition by 80%!
It takes 0.05 seconds for people to form an opinion about your brand, when they land on your website. Your brand's visual identity plays a huge part when it comes to building trust with consumers. The better the branding, the easier it should be to build credibility, and boost your conversions.
These are 4 strategic ways to make your mark in the eCommerce world. Remember that in 2020, it’s all about trust and building better relationships between you and your customers. Get that right and you should be just fine.
Get ready for the holiday season today, read our latest consumer insights report!