When it comes to e-commerce, customers have all the power. Whether it’s the fact that satisfied customers are likely to spend more or the fact that they’re willing to share referrals based on positive experiences, customer satisfaction is a big part of any successful e-commerce business.
By identifying where you’re making mistakes or missing opportunities to maximize customer experience, you stand a better chance of finding new revenue streams to boost sales and grow your business.
Relying on diversified revenue streams makes it easier for you to grow, especially if one revenue stream is saturated with competition.
Here are five factors—and ways to fix them—that affect revenue growth because they hurt customer experience and your potential to have a thriving business. The good news is the strategies we’ll explore are sustainable for the long term and customizable to fit your business.
Let’s dive in!
1. Sporadic communication with customers that doesn’t engage them
Highly engaging communication with customers is required to keep them engaged and happy throughout all stages of the customer journey. Communication informs new shoppers to buy something and encourages existing customers to come back and buy again.
Communication that fails to engage customers is a little like having a one-sided conversation. You share the occasional sales promotion or product update but fail to take the time to offer information customers care about and are likely to respond to.
Just like with one-sided conversations, customers lose interest in your emails and social media campaigns and leave to find a better customer experience.
Given the fact that “loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering,” it’s in your best interests to figure out how to engage your customers more effectively and promote a two-sided conversation.
How to fix this
Customers and leads share their email address or phone number with you because they want to hear from you. To take advantage of this invitation:
- Create campaigns that include clear calls-to-action (CTAs). A great way to increase engagement is to ask customers to do something. A CTA makes it clear what it would like customers to do—like buy something, join a program, share their comments. What’s great about CTAs is you can track the click-through rate to measure what types of requests are the most engaging.
- Ask customers for their input. Send surveys via email, rich media message (RMM), or even social media to learn more about your customers’ needs and expectations. Use this information to decide what types of products you’ll sell.
- Share insights based on their pain points. When customers call in to customer service, leave comments on social media, or respond to your emails, incorporate this information into how you promote your business and products, so it’s clear you’re listening to their needs.
To simplify communication to all of your customers, use automation. Create an email drip campaign for different actions people can take on your site—like signing up for a newsletter, downloading an eBook, or buying something for the first time. To improve e-commerce conversions, use each campaign to educate customers and showcase why you’re the best option to meet their needs.
Another option is to incorporate optichannel communication that includes email and RMM to keep customers informed. For example, when an order is processed and ready to deliver, share order tracking details via email and text. Give customers the option to connect with customer service if they have questions.
What’s important is your campaigns are designed to build a relationship with your customers vs. only contacting them when you want to sell something.
2. A social media strategy that doesn’t match e-commerce business goals
Social media works to create an emotional connection between you and your audience. It also creates brand awareness, which is especially important for customers still in the early stages of the customer journey.
A poorly thought-out social media strategy consists of inconsistent posts, posts with an unclear purpose or goal, lackluster captions, and poor or limited hashtag use.
A social media strategy that isn’t compelling and lacks direction will fail to drive people back to your e-commerce business to eventually buy something. If one of your business goals is to show the value and quality your products offer compared to the competition, each post you share has to relate to this idea.
How to fix this
Create a unique strategy for each social media platform you use. For example, Instagram is very visual and since 65% of adults are visual learners, use Instagram to share product snapshots. Use the caption to address how each product meets a specific customer pain point and explain how your product solves the problem better than anyone else.
For example, Sainsbury’s shares recipes on its Instagram account to make meal planning easier for its customers:
Take your Instagram strategy further and use Instagram Stories to show behind-the-scenes images of customers using your product or your product being made.
Finally, research hashtags with a tool like Seekmetrics Hashtag Generator to find related hashtags in your niche. For example, in addition to including recipes in their captions, Sainsbury’s also includes hashtags related to each post to ensure the right audience finds the posts and makes their way to the website.
The goal with social media marketing is to attract your audience’s attention, engage them, and drive them to your website to convert them. If you’re going to invest the time in posting to social media, make each post relevant to your goal and use the analytics available on each platform to track which types of posts result in the most clicks, comments, and likes. Use this data to share more of these types of posts.
3. Limited use of content to attract new site visitors
The way you describe your products and their benefits helps create a sense of urgency and need among shoppers. If it’s clear to them exactly how your products solve a problem, they’re more likely to relate and want to buy something.
As an e-commerce business, it makes sense that you use your product benefits and special offers to convert shoppers to customers. However, it’s also important to optimize your website so that it’s easy for people to find it in the first place.
The more traffic you attract to your site, the more chances you have to convert shoppers to customers.
One way to optimize your website is to use a series of keywords that your audience searches for online. The more consistent you are with keyword usage throughout your website, the better the chances of new shoppers finding you. For example, if you’re a retailer like Argos or Currys and you sell refurbished tech gadgets and other electronics, use keywords like “refurbished laptops” or “cheap laptops for sale under 200” to attract customers looking for these types of products.
How to fix this
Research keywords in your niche using tools like Moz, KWFinder, Ahrefs, and others to find keywords to incorporate them throughout your site.
Simply enter a word or phrase that represents your products and these tools will list related keywords and suggestions based on how popular each keyword is in Google:
Another option that allows you to use your chosen keywords regularly is to start a blog for your e-commerce business. Use it to share resources for customers in the early stage of their customer journey to learn more about you and the solution your product offers. Also incorporate one of your keywords within each post to attract more of your audience.
Find gaps in the content your competitors offer and fill them with your content. Answer customer questions, talk about trending topics, and more.
Blogging is a powerful customer experience tool because it allows you to share your expertise with people in need of information. A blog with regular posts—share at least one post a week—and relevant content positions you as a trusted resource in your niche and builds customer trust.
4. Inflexible payment options at checkout
One of the best ways to ensure a positive customer experience is to be flexible and cater to customer needs.
Allowing only one payment option at checkout is a surefire way to lose customers right before they convert. This results in a negative customer experience, which is sure to keep customers away.
While it might be easier for you to manage one payment stream, not all customers use the same payment options, so boxing them in makes it harder to generate consistent revenue.
Customers need to have flexibility with payment options because it shows that you recognize that your customers have different needs.
How to fix this
Cater to the needs and preferences of customers by including more options vs. beyond only credit cards. For example, give customers the option to pay with PayPal.
What’s clear is that “People tend to resist that which is forced upon them. People tend to support that which they help to create.” Don’t treat your customers the same because they have different expectations and willingness to follow through. Even if they choose to pay with credit, customers like to know there’s another option available to them when the need arises.
5. Poorly executed referral program
Referral programs have the potential to turn occasional shoppers into loyal brand evangelists. Use a referral program to create lasting customer experiences that help move customers to this part of the customer journey.
Some e-commerce businesses have referral programs simply because the competition has one. However, where these programs fall short is their inability to effectively incentivize customers to take action.
Referral programs have the power to build trust since they rely on the endorsement of current customers. Based on a combination of customer experience, product fit, and quality, shoppers are more likely to trust the recommendation of a friend or family member over a company’s marketing promises.
Your satisfied customers are your best salespeople. Not offering a referral program that offers value is a wasted opportunity to acquire new customers.
Plus referral programs are able to help you attract customers “with higher brand loyalty and profit margin.” People pay 2x more attention to referrals from friends and the best part is that these referred customers are less likely to leave. You have a customer for life.
Debenhams’ referral program lets customers add multiple emails at once—a subtle hint to refer more than one person at a time—and customize the message they send.
How to fix this
A referral program has the potential to increase customer base in a short amount of time and lower your customer acquisition costs (CAC). Instead of relying on advertising campaigns to promote your e-commerce business, your referral program saves you money because your customers do the promoting for you.
Survey your customers to find out what kinds of rewards interest them. Choose from incentives like gift cards, discounts, or rewards. For example, 77% of customers prefer to receive cash so in this case, you can use a credit discount card to encourage them to participate in the program.
Before you launch your referral program to all customers, test it first with a small segment of customers. Include a mix of repeat and new customers to get a good cross-section of your entire customer base. If you choose to offer bonus rewards, A/B test different reward levels and amounts to confirm which mix triggers the most customer engagement and referrals.
Based on what the resulting test data shows, make adjustments to the offer and release the program to your entire customer base. Send reminders to participate via SMS, RMM, email, and social media to keep it top of mind.
Growing your e-commerce business
Were you able to identify opportunities to improve your e-commerce business? Pick one area to start with and think about how it will affect customer experience. These strategies are all customizable, so depending on the size of your business, the types of products you sell, and your audience, make adjustments based on what works for you.
As your company grows and changes, continue to make adjustments, but make sure that the focus is always how to keep customer experience at the forefront of your decision making.
Published on: 2nd April 2019