Below are the principal trends that online entrepreneurs should pay close attention to in 2019:
All smaller online stores use big data
In recent years, we have heard a lot about big data – a lot of data about every person, company, site, collected by thousands of Internet services (from Google and Facebook to customer relationship management systems). And the more online entrepreneurs are using big data, the more they are breaking new ground compared to all the competitors who are not yet using the data.
In 2019, this division will no longer coincide with the boundary between large and small internet merchants. On the contrary, it is the small and medium online trade that is starting to use the data on customers and partners (and their own, collected by the store itself, and external, collected by other sites) in search of unique ideas.
Big data is also fed by artificial intelligence – programs for automating complex processes that revolutionize online commerce.
The work of AI is already visible in many online stores: programmable chat-bots, automation of data analysis, automation of warehouse movements. And there are examples of brands that take AI to a new level – for example, North Face recently introduced a personal helper bot in shopping.
So, if you plan to stay in e-commerce in the long run, it is worthwhile to study the existing developments in the sphere of collection and application of big data.
Communication with clients is becoming increasingly personalized
One of the locomotives of Amazon’s success is the advanced product recommendation algorithm: it provides 35% of the marketplace’s sales volume. Using consumer habits, interests and even a history of visits, the e-commerce giant can promote products that the customer is likely to purchase.
In recent years, it has been an affordable but still virtuosity art to direct its customers to the products that are most relevant and desirable to them. And with far fewer vendors than Amazon in 2019, personalization of product recommendations is beginning to prove its effectiveness.
All quality customer service
Buyers are used to the fact that the convenience of online shopping is growing. And sellers have to meet not just the high expectations, but the ever-increasing expectations of people.
Here are four tips on how to meet them in 2019:
- Make your shopping experience as simple as possible. Think about whether you need two or more stages (sub-pages) of ordering – isn’t it more effective to let the customer fill in the details on one cart page and click “buy” on it? Do you need a lot of mandatory fields to fill in when placing an order, because this is one of the main reasons why people throw filled baskets?
- Ask your customers what they lack; what you need to improve. Be active in finding feedback and interviewing your customers about their experiences in your store. By asking for feedback, you form a more holistic view of your business. Don’t be afraid to receive criticism, including public criticism. In this way, you will firstly identify your shortcomings, and secondly, you will show your customers that you are serious about their complaints with a friendly and constructive solution to the problem voiced in the negative feedback.
- Be responsive. And in social networks, and on your site, and by e-mail, and by phone, and online chat from the online store are expected to timely, friendly, informative responses to any requests.
- Apply personalization. This is what we said above: use the customer’s browsing and shopping history on your website (and then the big data from external players) – offering the person what he or she is clearly interested in, or what successfully complements what he or she has acquired.
And remember: impeccable service is no longer a bonus in people’s expectations from the online store – now it’s the norm.
Learn to anticipate future sales
If you have the opportunity to expand your product line, you should assess market demand and see if it is worth it. You can do this through a variety of approaches: keyword research, geographic validation, social media trends, etc.
Another creative way to test your market is to start pre-selling to see how many people will order.
If you’re hesitant to start selling any of the products, you can do so. Create a quality page for each product, with good pictures and a call to action. But to indicate that the product is not available. Then just count: which one of the products will have more requests for “Notify me when you get there”.
When selling shoes and clothes there are cases when certain sizes or colors are temporarily out of stock. KEEN, which sells sneakers, offers customers the opportunity to receive an email when the product of their choice is available again.
Launch content marketing program
Each online store should regularly keep blogs to communicate with customers and take up higher positions in search engines.
But don’t forget that there are more ways to use content marketing than just blogging:
- Start writing podcasts to share your experiences or build a strong community.
- Guest posts on other sites and blogs to raise awareness and create backlinks that also help SEO.
- Create detailed materials and guides to help clients use your products more effectively.
Personalization is another effective marketing technique to stimulate online sales. Using behavioral data, visitors are provided with a personalized experience in accordance with their past actions and preferences.
According to BCG, personalization can raise sales by as much as 10%, but 15% of companies use this technology to their full potential.
User-generated content (UGC) is a great way to create social proof. When potential customers see people like them buying your products regularly, they will feel more confident doing the same.
According to Salesforce, 54% of consumers trust information from online reviews and recommendations from their peers, compared to 20% who trust the brand itself.
UGC can take many forms. Technically, even product reviews are UGC. One of the most effective types of UGC is the photos of customers who use your product. The Pepper store, which sells bras, has a lot of pictures of happy customers.
Optimize your pages
Where do you lose sales? Who fell off and why? What can you do to take advantage of lost opportunities? This process is controlled through both qualitative and quantitative research, so you get a holistic and objective view of how much conversion is being done on your site.
Once you’ve done your research to identify challenges and opportunities, you can develop hypotheses and tests to see which approaches bring the most sales.
According to Statista, by 2021 more than half of all online purchases will be made on mobile devices. Optimizing your mobile store means more than just an adaptive design. This means that you are developing your website with mobile visitors in mind from start to finish.
You may have an “Add to cart” button on all pages of your mobile product to make it easier for the visitor to add it to the cart, for example, without increasing it. You can also present your images in a different format, which will allow mobile visitors to upload photos of products faster and zoom in.
Encourage your regular customers
Focusing on customer retention is a cost-effective way to increase online sales. According to Stitch Labs, regular customers account for 22% of the retailer’s revenue, while at the same time they represent only 11% of the total customer base. They also spend 15% more per year.
Convince me to buy more
For many enterprises the increase in sales to the existing client can be more effective than attraction of the new client. Sometimes clients do not know about the existence of a premium-class product, or they need more time and arguments in favor of the fact that they need a more expensive product.
Is one of your models made of better quality material? Or is it handmade? Be sure to highlight the difference and offer an alternative.
There are two main considerations when using Up-selling to increase sales:
- Make sure that your sales are linked to the original product.
- Be careful about the price expectations of your customers.
Your product must meet the initial needs of the customer. The price of a cheaper product is often the first number the customer sees, and it is with this that they then compare other price offers. A new product should be noticeably better than the original to make it worth the extra cost.
Instagram, with more than 500 million active users per day, is one of the fastest growing social applications that brings together consumers, influential people and brands.
If you take high-quality photos, use hashtags and post messages at the right time, then you are on your way to creating a successful and influential Instagram profile.
How to attract your audience to Instagram? You can hold a contest or demonstrate the process of your product development. In e-commerce, adding a product directly to Instagram posts and stories paves the way for subscribers to buy.
Reduce the rejection of baskets
Strong truth: you lose money every time a visitor leaves his basket without buying.
This phenomenon is well studied. Visitors add items to their baskets, but leave them while placing an order. According to the Baymard Institute, 69.23% of baskets are abandoned.
Try to get in touch with the customer as often as possible to remind them of an unfinished purchase. You can offer a discount or free shipping to complete your purchase.
Another simple and effective marketing idea of e-commerce, aimed at reducing the number of abandoned baskets, is an e-mail campaign that will convince you to make a follow-up visit and complete your purchase.
Write an e-mail that reminds your customers of their wishes and plans when they make a purchase, thus returning them to the shopping cart to complete the process.
Launch the shop on Facebook
Although Facebook has undergone a number of changes, it remains a convenient and effective platform for social media marketing and e-commerce.
Cover more e-mail subscribers
E-mail marketing is one of the most effective channels for sales and attracting regular customers. According to a study conducted by Forrester Research in 2015, about 17% of digital marketing costs are incurred by email, but bring in 24% of revenue.
Too many tweets and posts on Facebook – people don’t have time to follow them, and email can offer more intimate interaction. Also, the letter format gives you the opportunity to say things that don’t fit into a social networking message.
Actively promote your newsletter, blog and any other activities to get as many subscribers as you can.
Improve your mail campaigns
There are many cases when your spam emails turn into valuable content:
- Welcome letter as soon as the customer makes a purchase.
- Exclusive promo codes and gifts in the letter.
- Wish list reminder letter
- Regular newsletters to alert subscribers to new discounts, products and, if necessary, company news.
- Content that will help customers get the most out of their newly purchased products.
- In anticipation of the holidays, BOGO campaign (buy one, get the second one for free or at a discount) to promote the purchase of gifts during the season.
- Thank you to the best customers.
- Feedback request. If someone visits your site but does not make a purchase, ask about their experience and how you can improve it.
Make it easy for your clients to get what they want
If your store is poorly designed, you’re losing customers.
In addition to the fact that the store looks unreliable, the impression can ruin the lack of a clear value proposition, difficult to read font or confusing navigation.
It’s also useful to check if the products are properly segmented, if there are too many products on one page, if the balance between text and images is maintained.
Attract visitors to the online store live chat
There are other effective ways to interact with visitors to the site. For example, chat to communicate with customers on your site.
Chat tools allow you to set up targeting on browsers on certain pages after they have been on your site for a certain period, or even after they have arrived at your site by email. Chat also allows you to communicate directly with your customers so that you can respond and solve customers’ problems right when they plan to make a purchase.
Send a survey to the mailing list – and use its answers on the site
When you’ve chosen a keyword combination to promote yourself, you can do a survey on this topic in your newsletter.
This way you will know what the biggest desires, doubts, problems, and lack of awareness of people are related to this phrase.
Phrases and survey responses can be placed on product pages, FAQ pages, store blog posts, and wherever appropriate.
With this information, the search engine will give out your site above for entering a keyword with additional words. After all, one or more pages of the site will respond to these additional words – received by you from the mailing of the survey.
Send an email with a link to your answers after the survey is sent
Having received complaints, questions and requests from your audience through the survey, it is not enough to write and post “return” content on the site. Although this will already increase the ranking.
Let the final chord be sending an e-mail link to this “return” content to all authors of questions, complaints and suggestions.
These recipients will surely follow this link and read everything to the end. So you will reduce the rate of refusals and increase the viewing time – and this has a good effect on the ranking of the site.
Direct your new subscriber to the most visited pages of the site
The scheme is as follows: send links or buttons to the pages of your site with the highest frequency of visits and viewing time in the first letter to the new subscriber.
The result: Google will soon see pages that are both super-visited and ultra-long studied, with regular traffic growth.
Although it will be the Contacts page, even though it will be a blog post on the store’s blog, and even though it will be the pages of your products – the superattendance of one or two pages will increase the ranking of the entire site.
Distribute links to viral marketing content on your website
If you have the opportunity to post what the recipients will surely want to share with friends on your blog or other part of the site – promote transitions to such content.
And the increase in traffic will also increase the rating of the site.
Publish your best newsletters – and on the site
The particularly active opening of an email or its high CTR (link click rate) means that you can reuse this newsletter as a blog post.
Such a blog entry will gather a lot of traffic – because e-mail marketing gives quality information on mass demand for content.
Personalize emails – to increase the openness and CTR of emails, time and depth of viewing the site
Segmentation of subscribers into a number of groups or individual personalization for each client (at least manually, though with the help of programs) allows you to create emails that are narrowly and precisely “tailored” to the interests of the client.
And very relevant for the recipient letters will lead to such good traffic – which would not be when sending all of a single letter in a row.
1. Give gifts to the client with each order
For example, if you sell food online with delivery – add a free snack. So you not only charm customers – but also disarm, noticeably calm their anger in case of small inconsistencies.
And if you have already noticed even the slightest sign that the client is dissatisfied – try not only to quickly solve the problem, but also to offer a compensatory gift. This can be not only a free item, but also a free service.
2. Send a feedback letter after each order
More chances to get a good balance of positive versus negative feedback – if you are actively asking for it through a feedback letter.
For example, stores that are open on marketplaces usually use automatic mailing of such letters – this option is available for almost every online marketplace.
It is about e-mails created by the program to the client a few days after the purchase. Such a letter contains:
Please leave a review – both about the product and the service of the store.
Button or link – in one click to the page of reviews about this product.
If your store is not on the marketplace, we recommend you to use the paid service of sending a feedback letter (usually it is one of the options of mailing services) or create a code and a template of such mailing by yourself.
Another way to collect feedback is to call each client right after they receive your product. And ask: “Is everything okay with our product and service?
Then, however, good reviews will not reach the web. But also about all negative experience the client, most likely, will speak out to the caller – and already will not write about it in the Internet.
In this latter scheme, the efficiency of the call-back is particularly important – so you need to automatically notify the store immediately of the fact of delivery of goods to the client. At some courier and post services such notifying function already works; we advise to connect it to connect.
3. Collaborate with external feedback platforms
Each online jurisdiction has sites for generating feedback, ratings, recommendations about products and shops. There are also international portals of this kind.
You can establish a partnership with them (usually for a fee) – and direct clients to write reviews and give ratings there.
Remember that some review sites, such as the Russian irecommend.ru, pay the authors of the reviews for informative texts.
Or you can write your own reviews of your own products. After all, we are all not only managers and marketers of trade, but also consumers.
4. Stimulate feedback with gifts
Offer the writer any feedback discount, gift, free shipping, and other bonuses that are more convenient for you.
You can give a stimulus for each review of the same size – or you can accumulate its value according to the bonus scheme. Let’s say, for the first review – 5% discount, for the second – 10% discount, for the third – 15% … for the fifth and subsequent reviews – 25% discount. Many people will be interested in writing not one, but five reviews as soon as possible.
5. Offer a refund to the most dissatisfied customers – without them returning the goods
If you have customers who are especially dissatisfied with your services – and the purchased goods were inexpensive – offer them a full refund (the return of goods free of charge). Or, if the product is not cheap, offer a large partial refund.
These costs should be recorded in the budget of loyalty marketing. By the way, I advise you to initially “freeze” some financial reserve within this budget. Then in a conflict situation you will quickly pay out of this reserve the amount of money with a clear purpose of payment for the tax authorities.
Otherwise, the inspectors will have to be painfully explained to them: what were you doing with your money back and forth without returning the goods by the client.
We have collected an overview of effective e-commerce marketing tactics and tools together with ideas to help implement them. Try to implement one every day for several weeks. On the last day of the “marathon” it will be clear which tactics worked best to stimulate sales.
What is e-commerce marketing?
E-commerce marketing is the use of advertising tactics to attract traffic to your online store, convert that traffic into customers and retain them after purchase.
In general, the marketing strategy of e-commerce includes actions on your website and beyond. Sophisticated solutions will help you increase brand recognition and customer loyalty, which will ultimately increase online sales.
You can use e-commerce marketing to promote your online store as a whole, or to increase sales of certain products.
One way to reward loyal customers and large sponsors is through a customer loyalty program. There are many ways in which you can benefit from your customers’ loyalty programs. They give customers an extra incentive to make a purchase and keep your brand in mind with automatic reminders.
You choose how to reward your customers, how often and for what actions. For example, you may have a point-based program that has its own point-based currency that can be exchanged for discounts, free shipping, or free gifts.
Now you have a list of really working tactics and applications that will help you increase your traffic and increase your online sales.
People stop trusting advertising – trusting individuals and enlightenment
We’ve been seeing for three years now that people are becoming less and less attracted to traditional advertising. The Nielsen study of 2015 showed that the main “selling” sources of information about products were: people whom the customer knows, producers’ websites, educational articles and reviews.
In addition, in 2019, at least 30% of Internet users will use ad blocking.
Therefore, we will see the outcome of previous advertising budgets – in educational and entertainment content marketing, marketing with the help of opinion leaders, partnerships – that is, in methods that create the personal and self-educational value that the current audience appreciates. This shift will not stop.
People no longer value their values – they value creativity
Recently, I learned about a manufacturer who used software to get physical addresses of registered customers – and started sending them full-color magazines about their products with envelopes for ordering goods by mail (in the style of club catalogues of the mid-20th century).
That is, in the era of smartphones, the manufacturer “drove sprouts into the grain” and spent extra money to make the marketing of loyalty in the old-fashioned way. I was also surprised to find that his campaign was extremely successful: orders were made by most of the magazine’s recipients. [Note: in Ukraine, the Club of Family Recreation, a bookstore company, has been successfully used as a way to re-sell the magazine.]
I do not advocate for the companies to try to revive marketing in the club magazine printing. I’m saying that unusual ideas of attracting now are more promising than those ideas, which, according to marketers and sociopsychologists, resonate clearly with the audience.
Content is no longer just about marketing and PR
Companies that are too tightly splitting functions between departments and employees, creating barriers between departments, will soon begin to fail. Successful companies in 2019 will be built on departments that work together.
For example, the attractive content I mentioned in the first paragraph will not only be created by marketing and PR staff from 2019. Other departments will also feed into the content of their websites and communication channels, which will lead to the discovery of talents, cost reduction and improvement of internal relations.
Marketing will be more attentive to each new technology that customers use to communicate
Customers expect selling companies to communicate with them through all new channels.
Example: Some analysts predict that 50% of all search queries will go to voice search by 2020. I’m not sure the numbers of such forecasts are accurate. But I know that we live in a world where smart speakers, voice assistants and just voice search are a fashionable feature – and many are already expecting more marketing activity from these channels, more precision for voice queries.
Personal contact in marketing will begin to struggle with automation
There is no limit to the automation of marketing technologies. These achievements help marketers to scale more effectively, make the right decisions and save money. However, these advantages sometimes arise due to lively personal relationships, which the same marketers used to build with individual members of their audience.
The gaming market is growing: according to GfK, the German gaming industry sold around 4.37 billion euros in 2018.
Cybersports bring together stadiums around the world, Candy Crush Saga leads the list of the most popular applications in the Google Play Store, and Pokémon Go has pushed millions of users to search for virtual pokémon.
Games evoke emotions, such as joy, ambition and happiness, which can also be successfully used by marketers.
The child in each of us
The gaming instinct is a natural human instinct. The game is important for the mental and physical development of the child. But adults also need to play.
According to a study by the German Game Industry Association, 28% of consumers of computer and video games are people over 50 years of age.
These figures indicate that our parents, and even grandparents, are an underestimated target audience, especially against the backdrop of an ageing society. Because of their ability to activate social interaction, games can also counteract problems such as loneliness in old age.
In addition to the classic target group of so-called active players, i.e. players who spend a lot of time playing games, some people play only occasionally and do not invest their personal money in the purchase of devices for games.
The platform will allow you to download games from the cloud and play on any device using a dedicated controller. Although nothing is yet known about the pricing policy of the service, it can be assumed that the platform is capable of activating the potential of a rarely-playing target group.
Playing approaches in the classic retail
According to the German Retail Association, the retail sector is actively struggling with a decline in the number of customers. One way to attract more customers to retail chains is to make shopping more exciting and interactive through gamification – integrating game elements into a non-game context.
Gaming elements address human needs, such as the desire for interaction, the realization of ambition, competitive spirit and the thirst for reward.
In the spring of 2018, for example, the book seller Hugendubel encouraged customers to visit bookstores with its Bookbuster campaign. A smartphone game was developed where users could test their knowledge of literature on three levels.
Level 1 consisted of a virtual puzzle game with the cover of the book, and level 2 motivated users to guess the names of the books presented by the images. The augmented reality was used for the third level. Participants could collect virtual birds and win books in the process.
According to Hugendubel’s Marketing Director Sarah Orlandi, the campaign led to an increase in the number of visitors and sales.
In honor of the opening of the new IKEA store in Dallas, the furniture manufacturer gave customers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the virtual world of IKEA. In another VR-based project, participants designed an IKEA bamboo lamp.
Another successful case in the field of gamification belongs to NIKE. In order to promote the new “Epic React” shoes, a trial shoe fitting in the store was combined with a three-minute game.
Before customers started testing sneakers on a treadmill, they created an avatar for themselves. This avatar was controlled by the clients’ running movements and a special button for jumping. In total, participants were invited to explore four worlds while testing new shoes in a game format.
There is no limit to creativity and imagination in gamification. However, retailers should make sure that the elements of the game support the process of shopping, not distract from it.
Gamification as a learning tool
Gamification will also play a significant role in the distance learning process. In the near future, events and trainings will be held with game elements.
For example, companies will be able to set incentives that motivate employees to continue their training, so that employees can move to the next level by accumulating points.
Salesforce, an international provider of enterprise cloud computing solutions, is a prime example of this approach to learning. A special training platform called “Trailhead” has been developed to introduce them to their software in a game form. In the process, students receive glasses and badges as a reward for solving problems.
Gamification approaches are also available for recruitment and training workshops. So, dear colleagues, be creative and let your gaming instincts run wild.