Breaking into the vastly crowded world of ecommerce is an intimidating task, especially when you are looking up at giants named Amazon and eBay. As many quickly learn, getting an online store up and running is the easy part. In truth, it isn’t even half the battle. The hardest part of the job is building up a customer base that sticks around for the long haul.
There is a huge amount of psychology (both positive and negative) taking place in every single ecommerce store on the web, whether you realize it or not. The name of the game is using both conscious and subconscious cues to seamlessly turn visitors into longtime customers. Being as how design and content trends seemingly change by the minute, ecommerce operators must put themselves in a perpetual state of research, experimentation, and refinement. Otherwise, a platform can quickly go obsolete.
Experts claim that 97% of all ecommerce businesses bite the dust sooner or later. If you want to be on the winning side of this scary statistic, you need to do more than just gain conversions; you need to develop a strategy that is designed to consistently boost customer lifetime value (CLV).
In other words, you need to know how to keep people coming back and spending more money.
Given that the world of ecommerce is almost entirely dominated by Amazon, you need to give people a very, very good reason to choose you over them. Let’s discuss five key ways you can do just that.
1. Start with the Landing Page
First and foremost, your landing pages need to be crafted to perfection in a way that encourages people to buy. You can have the most spectacular marketing and web promotion strategy the world has ever seen; while this may get your ecommerce site some impressive traffic, poorly crafted landing pages will kill your profitability and essentially render your efforts useless.
Ecommerce landing pages are one of the most interesting entities on the web. The successful ones are full of subliminal tactics and psychological triggers designed to evoke reactions that end in dollar signs. In the marketing world, this is called conversion-centered design.
Conversion-centered design is comprised of three guiding principles:
- Hold attention
- Put it in context
- Achieve clarity
Throughout the design process, you need to keep these in mind.
In terms of holding attention, your landing page must be working to guide visitors to a distinct action. This might be downloading a resource like an e-book or a guide, signing up for a newsletter, requesting a demo, buying a product, or anything else that relates to your bottom line.
In most cases, the general rule of thumb is that a landing page should adhere to the 1:1 attention ratio. This ratio refers to the number of things the user can do, compared to the number of things they should do.
Most online shoppers aren’t conspicuous by their patience, to put it lightly. If your landing page is trying to do too much at once, it will definitely turn people off. This is especially true when marketing your product pages or anything else that requires a decisive action. Take a look at this page from SonyMobile.com:
The goal of this landing page is very clear in that it strictly promotes the Xperia XZ2 family of phones. The attention ratio is 1:1 and the objective is crystal clear from the second you land on the page: click the button that exhorts you to explore the XZ2.
There a few strategies to consider when strengthening the focus of your landing pages. For starters, invest in creating high quality images. Avoid using stock photos if possible, as this can take away from your page’s authenticity.
Next, make your CTAs stand out. These buttons need to draw eyes immediately upon opening the page. The color should work in contrast to the rest of the content. Also, the text needs to be able to explain exactly what the next move is in a few words. Creating a high-converting CTA button will likely take a good amount of experimentation.
Using one of the umpteen A/B testing tools out there, you can consistently split test different variations of your CTA buttons. This can include color, text, placement, etc. For instance, in a test conducted by Dmix, simply changing the color from green to red resulted in a 34% boost in conversions.
Now, there are definitely exceptions to the 1:1 ratio. For example, if you run an online clothing store, there might be different actions required to lead visitors to the men’s and women’s catalog.
However, the general action to begin shopping is the same.
Moving on, your landing pages need to have context in order to convert. This context needs to be closely tied to where the user falls in the buyer’s journey. The landing page needs to be crafted around how much they already know, and what you want them to know.
Additionally, the landing page should exemplify your brand identity in terms of both design and voice. Keep in mind, your primary goal in any ecommerce landing page is to persuade. In order to do so, you need to know how to use words and design elements that will resonate with the intended viewer.
On the landing page shown above, the design elements do a great job in conveying the brand identity while the copy works to give the viewer some background as to what the company represents, and why people should buy from them.
Last, but certainly not least, achieving clarity in your landing pages is not as simple as it may seem. When most people visit a webpage, they are not going to read each and every word. Chances are, they are going to do a quick scan for the important information.
When putting your landing page together, you need to use this concept to your advantage by creating and sticking to a visual hierarchy. This term refers to the practice of placing the most important information in the biggest and boldest spot on the landing page. The goal is to direct users’ scanning patterns toward the desired action.
When it comes to creating ecommerce landing pages, it’s all about making your site as easy and intuitive as possible. A 2017 study conducted by Siegel+Gale surveyed 14,000 consumers across the world, and found that 64% are willing to pay more for simpler online experiences. The takeaway: simplicity should rule across your web copy, design, homepage, product pages, checkout process, and every digital customer touchpoint.
2. Personalize It
One of the primary factors that makes Amazon the ecommerce giant it is today is personalization. The site looks different to each member, based on factors like their purchase history and browsing activity.
Think about it, if you walked into a brick and mortar store and the employees always greeted you by name and showed you items based on previous purchases, or what you looked at last time, would you keep going back? Would that store earn your loyalty?
A study by Accenture found that 75% of consumers are likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name and provides options based on previous store behavior, or knows their purchase history.
Fortunately, for ecommerce businesses, this process is much easier than many people might assume. Even if you have both an online and an offline presence, your point-of-sale (POS) systems can collect and integrate data from in-store, web and app sales, and build accurate customer profiles with the right contact information, order history, product preferences, and more.
With this information, you can personalize your site – in many cases, without much coding knowledge – with relevant recommendations, cart abandonment recovery, and email follow-ups. You can even use this data to segment your customer base and create targeted marketing campaigns.
In online retail, personalization is quickly becoming the gold standard for building brand loyalty. It’s a practice that should be engrained as soon as your site is launched.
3. Upsell and Cross-sell Wisely
Regardless of your industry or store type, upselling and cross-selling is a critical strategy to help boost revenue. However, many of today’s consumers will see right through your strategy if it isn’t planned out properly. It takes a lot more than just suggesting an add-on item here and there. You need to convince them how exactly they will benefit from it.
First off, you need to know what upselling and cross-selling are. More importantly, you need to know how they are different.
Upselling – The practice of encouraging the purchase of something that upgrades the original purchase to make it more valuable (and expensive). For example, if someone is buying a new desk chair, an upsell would be offering a coccyx pillow or armrest cushions as add-on items.
Cross-selling – The practice of offering customers a related item in addition to the one they are buying. If a customer is buying a new PlayStation, encouraging them to buy a few games would be a cross-sell.
While both are great strategies to boost average order value, generally speaking, upselling is the more effective practice. When people are looking at a particular item, it’s wise not to distract them with something else.
Bear in mind: the opportunities for upselling and cross-selling are limited. You don’t want to bombard your customers with suggestions with every single item they look at. You need to be very smart in how you do it and make sure the upsell or cross-sell is worthwhile. In other words, you don’t want to just sell items, you want to sell value. As an example, here’s the product page for the iPad Pro:
Below the listed upgrades, clicking on “How much storage is right for you?” takes you to a collapsible page, which goes into detail in answering the why for customers, considering their individual storage needs.
You’ll notice that the copy on this page is written in a very genuine and relatable way that presents the actual benefits of upgrading, rather than just providing the options. The key to upselling and cross-selling is honesty. If there is even a whiff that something seems fishy, customers will leave in a heartbeat. You need to present upsells and cross-sells in ways that show you actually care about the customer, rather than just your bottom line.
Fun Fact: As far back as 2006, Jeff Bezos claimed that 35% of Amazon’s revenue came from personalized upselling and cross-selling.
4. Create a Rewards Program
Rewards programs are nothing new. These have been powerful tactics to improve customer loyalty long before the internet came to be. Coffee shops would often times give you a punch card that earns a free cup after the tenth or so purchase. And a lot of credit card companies are only in business because of their rewards programs!
There is no reason why your ecommerce store shouldn’t follow suit. However, creating a rewards system will require a good deal of critical thinking. First, you need to figure out what exactly you will give rewards for.
- Facebook likes?
- Account registrations?
Each has its advantages.
Everyone loves birthdays. Offering rewards for them simply shows that you care about your customers on their special day.
If you choose to reward for purchases, it gives people motivation to come back and spend more money.
Social media is crucial for ecommerce these days. Rewarding for Facebook likes – or any other social media following metric – is a great way to expand your online presence and improve your marketing reach.
Rewarding for referrals is a strategy meant to increase the commitment of your current customers; while at the same time, turning them into brand ambassadors. According to Nielsen, referrals rank as the most trusted form of advertising. By offering rewards for referrals, you are working to increase loyalty and gain new customers.
For account registrations, offering rewards is a very high-value action. Not only does this work to establish brand loyalty right off the bat, it opens the door for a lot of other benefits like faster checkouts, personalization, and targeted marketing content.
Once you figure out a good rewards model, you need to decide the value of each reward. How many points should the customer get for every dollar they spend? How much are these points worth?
Next, you need to create an airtight explainer page. This needs to outline everything like:
- The name of the program
- What actions earn rewards
- The value of the rewards
- Ways to redeem the rewards
Take Nordstrom’s reward system for example. The program covers several bases and the explainer page does a great job in laying out the details. They offer points for every dollar spent, as well as rewards for registering for a Nordstrom card (and using it).
Tools like Smile.io make the process of creating a rewards program (based on points, referrals, or VIP perks) easy for online stores, which you can then integrate with other platforms like Hubspot, MailChimp, and Shopify.
Ecommerce is all about getting people to come back. That being said, offering rewards is a no-brainer.
5. Expand Engagement Points
In order to run a successful ecommerce business, a huge piece of the puzzle is having a perpetual presence. Each engagement point you have is another pathway to bring new and existing customers to your online store.
Without diving too deep into the jargon, this is known as multichannel marketing. In a nutshell, this concept is about expanding your presence to as many relevant channels as possible. This can include social media networks, niche sites, blogging platforms, search engines, and pretty much every marketing channel where you can possibly crush it.
The key is knowing where the bulk of your customers are hanging out and consuming content. Start by looking at your Google Analytics under “Acquisition.” On the surface, you’ll be able to see what percentage of your traffic is coming from organic search, referral, social, and direct.
When you click on the traffic sources near the bottom, you’ll be able to see which sites, social networks, and keywords are leading people to your platform.
If the bulk of your social traffic is coming from Facebook and Instagram, it would be worthwhile to dedicate a good chunk of your efforts to building a strong presence on those networks. If your pages are ranking on Google for certain keywords, you should make it a point to include these terms in future content.
In whatever you produce for the purpose of engaging with new and existing customers, you need to make sure it is sharable. The overarching goal is to create an online environment where your brand messaging is continuously placed in front of the most interested eyes.
Over to You
If you want your ecommerce store to stick around for the long haul, quick one-off conversions are not going to cut it. In everything you do, there needs to be a strategy in place that keeps shoppers coming back, hang around for longer, and make that purchase.
Everyone knows how much cheaper it is to keep existing customers compared to gaining new ones. However, brand loyalty is one of the most difficult assets for ecommerce businesses to maintain. Whether you’re preparing to launch a new online store or trying to increase sales on your existing one, improving customer lifetime value is essential for long-term profitability.
Got any more tactics to keep people buying from you again and again? Please share them in the comments!