A guest post by Jake Rheude, Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment.
It’s a well-known fact that, when it comes to online shopping and advertising in general, people love to see who is behind a brand. We want to know that we’re interacting with and responding to real people, not just some ad machine or algorithm.
That’s even more important when it comes to spending our money in the mobile era, where we’ve got more people, apps, and ads fighting for our attention every second of the day.
You need to maximize the user experience and establish the connection that boosts sales. Thankfully, it is relatively easy to create familiarity and score some major points with a few simple efforts that include using the data you have, sharing photos of your staff, telling stories about your company and community, and many more customer service efforts.
We’ve got eight tips that you can start following right now, with items that focus on customers, customer service, and your company. A mix of elements and approaches is recommended to not only establish the relationship, but also to capitalize on it in a way that’s not overbearing or creepy.
1. Remember your customers’ names and preferences
This one is going to feel a little obvious but always start with customer names and information that you know. If you have accounts or rewards programs, give users the option to stay logged in for as long as possible.
A nice little greeting that says “Hi” and their name at the top of each page is the perfect way to strengthen your connection. It also makes customer service processes much easier because the user will be able to tell exactly where to click to get access to account information or support channels.
This practice is also useful for improving your email marketing. Remember, the user experience involves every touch point, not just your store’s websites.
It makes sense for Yelp to target a location, but its emails also rely on data about the places we’ve eaten at, left reviews for, or ordered from now that it also has a hand in GrubHub. This email was definitely speaking our language but didn’t feel overly promotional or intrusive because it’s the thing we want from them.
An interesting note about this for eCommerce stores is that Yelp based the email content on relevant information, without asking us beforehand. It timed this BBQ email with summer and recent eating habits that it collected, but never asked us to check off a BBQ box.
You likely are collecting a variety of data about your customers and their habits. Test multiple emails and campaigns to see how much of this information you can use to increase your connection and sales.
2. Ask about special occasions
Most eCommerce companies trade coupons and deals for a newsletter or account signup. While you want to limit the number of things you ask for right away (you don’t need an address or a phone number before someone places an order), consider asking for a customer’s birthday month and day.
This gives you a quick and easy chance to automate a coupon or special deal with a personal touch. It’s their special day, and you’re helping them celebrate — especially useful for that new product launch or big sale you’re planning.
If your products are associated with specific events, like weddings or anniversary gifts, you can ask about these too. You should also use the latest data to see how much outreach should be done via mobile for every customer, even luxury buyers.
One note about these options is that they shouldn’t be a mandatory part of the signup.
3. Consider omnichannel support
Personalization and personal connections mean reaching out to people in multiple ways.
You call your friends on the phone, share events on Facebook, like their photos on Instagram, and meet up in the real world for a variety of activities. Treat your company the same way.
Omnichannel support really means combining multiple avenues to deliver customer service, from social and chatbots to enabling email and telephone options. This means you’re always around and available, ready to help. You’re also providing customers with a way to reach you however they feel most comfortable with at that given moment.
4. Integrate your social channels
Social channels are amazing for eCommerce. They allow you to share your content and new products as well as provide direct customer service. Many now also support plugins and native eCommerce tools so you can sell directly from your social page or feed. Use these to target where your customers are.
Add social feeds to your website. Display tweets and Facebook posts to add credibility and give you an extra little boost when a new customer is looking at your site. They’ll get to see people praising you, coupon codes, or announcements about what’s new.
The more you facilitate and encourage interaction on your social channels, the more customers will feel like they’re interacting with a person, building that connection. Even in these social efforts, be sure your keywords match your goals.
5. Reach out if they need help
Sometimes people give up on a website when they’re confused, overwhelmed, or just uncertain. You know they arrived and were thinking about a purchase. Now, it’s time to find out why.
Re-targeting ads can help by showing these customers the same goods they were looking at to tip them over the edge into buying. However, there are much more active measures you can take as well.
One of our favorite examples for creating a personal experience when it comes to cart abandonment is Strolleria. The company gives customers a call if they leave something in the cart and don’t buy. They make about a dozen calls a day and most end in a voicemail, but they’ve told us that nearly one-third return to the cart and complete the purchase.
This might not work if you have large volumes of sales and carts — Strolleria focuses on high-cost goods — but it can be smart if you’re dealing with big ticket items or something that can confuse people.
Plus, customer service that goes above and beyond is a terrific way to land stellar reviews.
6. Showcase your brand and values
Another key part of creating a personal connection is to have content that features your company and your people. Customers want to connect with individuals more than with a faceless company. You get a stronger connection when you’re sharing your brand values if they align with your customers’.
Share the things you care about and consider framing them as items that your customers care about too.
Highlighting your values also allows you to showcase how you’re different, and the top services you offer. For us at Red Stag Fulfillment, it’s a terrific way to remind potential customers that we offer same-day order fulfillment for a majority of the country.
Sometimes, the right value statement on a product makes the difference for you securing a new sale or being the place people come back to on big events like Cyber Monday. Sharing your values is a best practice all year long, because you never know when people are going to think about what you offer. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other events happen every day. The holiday season makes it easy to remember these kinds of efforts, and we suggest you use that reminder to create a plan for every season.
7. Celebrate your people and events
What’s one of the biggest things that charity bike rides, music festivals, local raffles, and every major sporting event in the U.S. have in common? Sponsors. Companies know that if you see their name associated with something you love, then you’re more likely to associate them with that same loving feeling.
Prepping the warehouse for new products? Planning a pizza party or big lunch for the whole crew? Bringing in new staff or celebrating a birthday? Snap a few photos and put them up on your blog and Facebook page. Hosting a networking event? Highlight your employees who are there as well as members of the community. Or, showcase a talent that one of your staff has in a way that celebrates it.
Again, these are all actions designed to remind customers that you are real people with real hobbies and passions.
And, don’t forget to be a little silly about things:
8. Ask questions
People like other people who ask questions.
We all want to be interesting and want others to be interested in us. One of the best ways to get that feeling is to have someone ask us relevant questions that we want to answer. The key is asking questions in a way that engages customers and gets them talking about themselves, not your company.
So, this isn’t your “how many stars would you give us?” type of question.
Ask about what they need help with, where they’d like to go next, and what more they want. It’s such a successful tactic that even science backs it up as a great way to get someone to agree to a second date. Social science says we all just want to be liked. Make your customers feel liked, and you’re halfway to that repeat sale.
And remember, always make it look good on mobile.
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