This blog post was co-authored with our NEXUS partner, SapientNitro. SapientNitro is an interactive marketing, creative design, & technology services agency.
According to research by digital agency SapientNitro, today’s consumers shop in increments, moving seamlessly from one digital destination to the next and grabbing “snackable” bits of intel along the way to help inform their purchasing decisions. As if that weren’t enough to keep up with, they do all this while simultaneously performing other tasks — watching TV, working, talking to their friends — you name it.
Noting that today’s consumers are hyper-connected (and often times easily distracted) multitaskers, how do businesses reach these individuals and encourage them along the path to purchase?
It all begins with intentional, data-driven experiences. And here’s how your business can effectively create and nurture these interactions to foster engagement and increase profits.
1. Be Easily Discoverable Across Channels
It’s not uncommon for your customers to interact with your brand on more than one device at a time, particularly as mobile devices become more tightly interwoven into users’ everyday lives. Smartphone users interact with their phones 150 times a day, according to a report by KPCB.
Not only is smartphone usage on the rise, it’s also becoming an increasingly important factor for any ecommerce business to examine. Case in point: a study by Leo J. Shapiro and Associates reveals that 66% of US smartphone owners use their phones to aid in shopping decisions.
To help your business gain exposure across these different channels, it’s important that you optimize your brand’s online presence for both web and mobile. Be sure to develop a strong mobile presence that makes sense for your business and invest in a platform that can track and consolidate your user records across channels so that you can easily monitor user behaviors and accounts over different devices.
2. Feed Your Customers The Intel They Want
As more and more shoppers take to their phones and desktops to complete purchases, they are comparing prices, product offerings, return policies, and more, with just a few clicks. After all, with competitor information being more readily available than ever, it’s no surprise that customers are searching for the best deals before pressing “Buy.”
Smart companies know what behavioral patterns their customers will perform before finalizing their purchase decisions and are poised to respond strategically by effectively feeding this information to customers before they even begin searching for it. To give you a better sense of what we mean, we’ve outlined some common bits of information shoppers generally look for and consider before completing a purchase:
Ratings & Reviews
A report by MarketingLand found that 90% of consumers admit that their purchase decisions are influenced by consumer ratings and reviews. Not only that, but research also reveals that conversion rates are 105% higher for consumers that interact with ratings and reviews. When it comes down to it, ratings & reviews significantly impact consumers’ decisions to purchase by offering real, unbiased customer feedback on products and services.
Noting the influence that ratings & reviews has on shopping conversions and building consumer trust, businesses should consider implementing a public customer feedback system on their sites and apps, taking extra care to ensure that your ratings & reviews are easily discoverable on web and mobile. We also suggest connecting your ratings & reviews platform with a social registration and login system that allows for easy, quick user identity authentication so shoppers can associate their reviews with an existing social identity.
Sometimes, consumers want to examine a product in person before they make a final decision to purchase. In these cases, brick and mortar stores may have a slight advantage if they play their cards right. This means highlighting their physical presence by encouraging customers to visit their local brick and mortar shops. One way to achieve this is by including a search functionality on each product page that allows consumers to look for the stores within a specified radius from them that carry the product in question.
Use Case: Target
In addition to allowing customers to purchase goods directly from Target.com, retailer Target also lets shoppers search for product availability in local stores from their website.
In spite of its convenience, many consumers are still wary of the risks and potential added costs associated with online shopping, particularly when it comes to return and shipping policies. Research shows that 44% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts due to high shipping costs, and 22% fail to complete purchases because of ambiguous shipping costs.
By clearly communicating your brand’s return and shipping policy, you can help customers decide whether or not to place that order on your site. As a general rule of thumb, the more generous your return and shipping policies are in comparison to your competitors, the more you bolster your attractiveness as a buying destination for shoppers.
Use Case: Zappos
Online retailer Zappos.com makes its shipping and returns policy very clear and consistent from the moment customers land on its homepage. In fact, the company is notorious for its attention to superior customer service and generous shipping and return policies.
3. Send Gentle Reminders to Cart Abandoners
It’s important to remember that your customers are only human — and prone to forgetfulness. Consider also that they’re performing multiple activities at a time, juggling their attention from one task to the next. Assuming that shoppers’ attention spans are divided, businesses should be intentional about the messages they send to their customers, taking extra care to choose the appropriate timing, medium, and messages to reach these shoppers.
Luxury retailer Kate Spade re-engages shoppers at different stages of the purchase journey by sending a custom discount code to customers who’ve abandoned their shopping carts.
This type of incentive-based communication creates a personal bond between Kate Spade and the customer while encouraging shoppers to complete their purchases.
Moving With Your Customers
Now that you have a firmer grasp on your customers’ shopping habits, you’ll want to put your resources where they matter — into cross-channel strategies that reach your customers a relevant, consistent basis.
To learn how to create effective experiences that span different mediums and channels, download the free white paper, 3 Ways to Create an Effective Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy.
For more perspective on the trends shaping the marketing landscape, download the full SapientNitro Insights 2014 report.
By Emma Tzeng