Today’s consumers are savvy, thrifty and incredibly well-informed. It’s no longer the case that people have to shop around on the high street or in the mall to find a bargain; the explosion in smartphone technology has meant that ordering products and services has never been so easy. A quick swipe and tap of the finger at home or on the go is all that’s required. Indeed, retail figures for Christmas 2015 reveal that consumers shunned the shops like never before as 57% of all sales were done online and some 23% of these were on smartphones. In addition, modern attention spans are short and if a company’s website is clumsy, full of pop-ups or difficult to navigate, that potential sale can vanish as the consumer moves on.
Once today’s discerning shopper has found an online brand they love and trust, however, they can be incredibly loyal, even spreading the word about the company and its products on social media platforms. How then, does the rookie Ecommerce store owner stand out against the fierce competition to attract and hold on to these loyal customers? Well, it won’t happen overnight but with some careful planning, some astute branding and using social media to your advantage, you can create an online presence that is ahead of the pack. Here we show you how.
1. Create a reliable brand
When setting up your first online store, creating a strong, reliable and consistent brand is key. This means that your logos, lettering and artwork need to be exactly same across your website and any social media platforms you use and that potential customers receive the same brand message and experience, whether on your Facebook page or your Instagram. Carefully consider the colours you use in your graphic design; there is a lot of evidence to suggest that thinking about the psychology of colour can play an important role in successful digital marketing campaigns. One recent study found, for instance, that nine out of 10 snap judgements people make about a product or brand logo can be linked to its colour [http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233843].
The tone of voice of your online presence is also a key factor in determining whether consumers switch on to your brand or swipe off to look at someone else’s. You need to let people know what you are about in a friendly, non-patronising way. Speak to them as individuals, ditch the jargon and they will be much likelier to respond positively.
2. Build your social media standing
Social media has the potential to send your brand into the stratosphere. It also has the potential to do untold damage to your online reputation so you need to use it intelligently. It may be tempting to re-tweet the same message 10 times a day or spam your subscribers endlessly but believe us when we say that nothing is more guaranteed to put off your followers! Less is most definitely more when it comes to social media. By coming up with well thought-out, entertaining and interesting posts and not overdoing how often you release them, you are far likelier to be rewarded with shares, re-tweets and new customers.
Social media is a highly effective form of word-of-mouth marketing as customers “like” and “share” your brand pages. Looking after your reputation, then, is crucial. Never delete negative comments or messages from public pages, instead engage with the problem and resolve it in a helpful, friendly way. It goes without saying too that you should never get into arguments or petty squabbles with unhappy customers, no matter how frustrated you feel. Maintain your dignity and remember that trolls and aggressive keyboard warriors are everywhere: don’t allow them to tarnish all of your hard work.
3. Create loyalty with special offers
Competitions, special offers and one-off events such as webchats are all great ways to encourage loyalty among your growing customer base. Don’t overdo them though or you run the risk of consumers thinking your prices are artificially high, just so you can reduce them. The launch of a new line, a new season or a public holiday are all good times to send out a special offer or competition, which will then be shared and liked.
4. Consider a live web chat
Brands are increasingly having a web chat facility live on their site so that customers can have their queries answered as soon as they find the page. Most have someone available to chat through the day and a direct message facility after hours. This is a relatively simple thing to implement but is a great way of fostering trust and giving potential customers the impression that you are an accommodating and reliable company with a personal touch!
5. Make sure your email customer service is up to scratch
With so many people preferring to use Facebook messenger, Snapchat or WhatsApp to communicate, you could be forgiven for thinking that the email end of things isn’t so important anymore. Not so! Email is the communication mode of choice for 44% of online customers, according to a new survey [https://econsultancy.com/blog/7999-44-prefer-email-for-customer-service]. This means your company inbox needs to be well-organised and queries and complaints should be answered promptly. In addition, email is still a fantastic marketing tool and personalised email campaigns should definitely be a feature of your online marketing.
6. A great delivery service
If you are delivering products to consumers, make sure that if they need to return items, they can do so easily and free-of-charge. It is a real bugbear to find your faulty or ill-fitting product costs almost as much to return as it did to buy! If customers feel valued and they know that they can change their minds, they are far likelier to visit your site in the future.
7. Great copy sells!
Great content plays a key role in today’s Ecommerce marketplace. The most effective campaigns are those in which exciting, thought-provoking and well thought-out blog posts and articles are distributed to support the brand and its products. Written well and supported by excellent imagery, great content can be search-engine optimised to give your page greater exposure as well as providing a talking-point on social media platforms. If you don’t feel you can come up with it yourself, there are many well-known content agencies available online, where an experienced copywriter will turn around super sharp, exciting content for you, sometimes in a matter of hours.