Whilst in the midst of peak period, it’s easy to feel a little drenched in getting through the here and now, making sure customers have what they want and on time. But success in eCommerce is much about thinking ahead.
So, what do you need to be planning for your most profitable year yet?
#1 Keep Updating Your Mobile Strategies
Don’t take your foot off the gas when it comes to mobile. Mobile gets the lion’s share of traffic to eCommerce websites and even though you may already have a responsive site, mobile will continue to increase in the ways in which it can be used – a merchant that thinks their responsive site is enough in itself and can be left as it is, or that they don’t have to keep on top of mobile trends, will definitely miss out on profit.
All merchants should be thinking about how they can attract new customers via mobile, relying on only desktop as a tool for new customer acquisition will mean ignoring most of your potential audience. Mobile is often a research tool in the buyer’s journey. And if this research falls short of expectations, you can forget making that sale. You’ll need to:
- Make research seamless. As mobile is where the vast amount of eCommerce research is now done, make sure your store is easy to navigate, so that browsers can quickly get to the product they want, with minimal distracting copy, and speed is of course vital in order to minimise risk of bounce.
- Keep on top of new paid social advertising tools: Social media platforms know their audience, and they’ve spent big bucks on researching how best to get them to engage and interact. Facebook’s ad format – the Collection Ad Unit, for example, cleverly combines highly engaging contact with direct links to products.
- Get personal: Mobile devices are personal. They’re with us all the time, we depend on them enormously – they’re where we shop, communicate, research. Personalising your advertising efforts on mobile is absolutely essential for ROI, and as we go through the year, shoppers will expect even more in terms of refined personalisation on mobile.
#2 Make the Most of Your Customers Sharing Digitally
Though social is now recognised as an integral part of the marketing mix, some still question its place in eCommerce – don’t make this mistake. Customers are more likely to trust the opinion of another customer than they are any form of campaign from the company itself.
Making sure your products are amongst those that they’ll share is a challenge you’ll need to address in 2018 if you haven’t already done so, as the power of this inexpensive marketing tool can’t be overstated. Start by:
- Taking a look at those doing this well. Made.com for instance, who recognise how online smart their customer is and quickly devised innovative ways to max out on this. Seeing each customer as an influencer and potential advocate, they encourage social sharing by celebrating how their furniture is used in their customer’s homes.
- Knowing your customers preference for social media platforms, and how each one performs in terms of traffic and conversions. Using Google Analytics you can see the journey your customer takes, and what platforms lead them to you.
- Using dynamic product ads (ads that are based on search preferences and history). These will generate more sales than standard one-size-fits all ads that are distributed in generalised retargeting campaigns, and having a product image that’s more likely to appeal to them, will mean they’re more likely to both share it, and click on it.
#3 Take Your Personalisation Strategies Further
Your 2018 shoppers will be expecting more intelligent personalised shopping experiences than ever before.We’re all getting used to personalisation from the companies we love most (think how Netflix for instance, makes suggestions for each user on the account), and if a merchant doesn’t seem to “get” us, we’ll go to one that does. Think like the big companies. You’re no different to Amazon in terms of the data you have available, so have as your aim to make your customers get an experience as personalised as they do when shopping there. Here’s how:
- Use geo-location to tailor what customers see on product pages. If you’re a clothing store and a customer is on the site from their home in Scotland, they’re likely to be after warmer clothes than if they’re in Spain, for example.
- Focus on search behaviour. You can gather data on which products and categories customers show an affinity to, and make sure their product pages have suggestions of ones in line with these. Be predictive.
- Be mindful of (but not scared of) GDPR. In May 2018, when the full GDPR is rolled out, there’ll be tighter rules in terms of the customer having more control over their data. The customer will have the right for all of their data a company has on them to be deleted, and data sharing between companies will also be much more stringently monitored. Gaining a full understanding of the rules will mean not breaching the guidelines and being met with fines or reputation issues.
And finally… know your goals.
It sounds obvious, but knowing your specific goals, objectives, and each target within them, is crucial, and never more so than now, as we head into what looks set to be another year of advancements in our ever-evolving industry. You need to keep your eCommerce journey focussed, to make sure you grow in profit every year. Business goals quantify success and they define expectations, but it’s incredible how many businesses remain unsure of what they should be.
Our initial scoping on projects is designed to help eCommerce businesses define their priorities and overarching goals, in line with the business goals as a whole. We then strategically plan for how each will be met, and build a project around this. If you want to work with an agency that’ll help define and then take your business to its ultimate goals you should give us a call.
Akin is the author of the book "THE INTERNET: a town square for the global village.
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