So we’ve made it half-way through the year which, to ecommerce folk, means we’ve reached Q3 of 2016.
We’ve seen a lot and learned a lot this year, with surprises along the way. So, given what’s happened so far, what should you be considering for the next quarter?
1. It’s time to get video savvy
The first half of the year has shown that customers are demanding more content rich and visceral shopping experiences. They don’t want just a mere photo and description. Vivid and detailed product descriptions are no doubt helpful, and beautiful product photography is great, but this doesn’t quite capture the essence of your products like high quality video.
Product tutorials, and demos can work well on video, and can also provide shareable material. A bit of creativity can go a long way. Look here for some video ideas.
2. Reputation marketing is more important than ever
Social proof is now a complete expectation, and affects both online and in-store purchasing. Google research shows 8 out of 10 people use a smart phone in store to consult reviews whilst shopping. Online, many shoppers won’t buy a product that doesn’t have a review, and they may go to an online store elsewhere that displays a good number of reviews.
Reputation marketing tools allow you to directly respond to customer feedback and manage interactions. Negative reviews can be turned into positive experiences with the right response. It’s also worth trying to incentivise your customers to leave a review – higher number of reviews translates into more trust in both your products and brand (unless, of course, reviews are largely negative!)
3. Customers are less patient
The expectations of customers are changing rapidly, and this applies to online customer service more than anything. Online visitors have less and less patience when it comes to finding answers to questions – and if their answers can’t be found easily, why should they hang around?
Customers also might want a bit of advice and assurance about which product suits their needs. Live chat is the best current solution to this, and, from a vendor point of view, is a worthwhile investment. Consider this: Live Chat has the highest levels of customer satisfaction at 73%, compared to 44% over the phone.
4. Get ready for the big online shopping days
It’s well known that events like Black Friday are huge opportunities to drive traffic and sales. Cyber Monday yielded $3 billion last year in the US, but the biggest day online was Singles Day in China with Alibaba making over $14 billion alone. It’s predicted that these days will only get bigger, and new event days are popping up. It’s worth preparing for these days significantly in advance, with a targeted and personalised marketing campaign, and ensuring your site is well prepared for the weight of extra traffic. Other events to consider in this next quarter are Back to School Sales, Summer Clear Outs and significant days within your country or culture.
5. Personalisation is hitting the mainstream
85% of marketers are now using personalisation across campaigns (source: Researchscape/Evergage), with personalisation typically showing conversion increases of 19%. There is no doubt that delivering personalised experiences is necessary to keep up with the competition, as customers similarly expect their onsite experiences to be relevant to them. Interestingly, most marketers rate their personalisation efforts as no higher than a ‘C grade’, so clearly work needs to be done. With a large proportion citing lack of technology as a factor, tools like Bunting will undoubtedly make the process easier.
As we head into the next quarter of the year, it’s worth thinking about what we’ve learned so far, and how this information can help optimise your site. Making these changes now will no doubt help prepare your store for the winter buying rush in Q4 (But we won’t talk too much about that yet..!).