Who are Hedonic Shoppers and How to Engage Them and Extend the Relationship?

Who are Hedonic Shoppers and How to Engage Them and Extend the Relationship
A large number of retailers have experienced a shift in the marketplace. The retail marketplace, both online and offline retailers have experienced a massive change and it is no longer sufficient to entice the customers by providing low pricing, discounts, wide assortment of products, etc. More and more retailers as well as ‘Etailers’ are recognizing the need to make the shopping experience entertaining to overcome the immense competition.

According to Baymard Institute, 67.89 percent shopping carts get abandoned. Most people believe that the shopping carts get abandoned due to poorly optimized carts or lengthy checkout processes, but you will be amazed to know there are many other reasons why shopping carts get abandoned. Moreover, the shopping cart abandonment rate increases due to the rise of a group of shoppers known as the ‘Hedonic Shoppers’.

Who are Hedonic Shoppers?

According to research performed to determine the types of shopping motivations, the shoppers can be divided into two categories – Utilitarian and Hedonic.

  • Hedonic shopping is mostly driven by entertainment and emotion. Hedonic values of a shopper are more subjective and personal and they are motivated by fun or playfulness of shopping experiences.
  • Utilitarian shopping is more goal-oriented and rational. Utilitarian shoppers are efficient shoppers who know what exactly they need. They are more concerned about meeting daily needs, seeking more variety, greater value, quality and looking for best prices.

Hedonic shoppers are more impulsive than the utilitarian shoppers. Although it might seem that the hedonic shoppers spend more on shopping, as compared to the utilitarian shopper, the shopping cart abandonment rates are higher as well (in case of hedonic shopping). So it has become increasingly important for the online retailers to adapt to this shift in shopping habits and optimize the shopping experience to incorporate fun, entertainment, excitement elements to satisfy both utilitarian as well as the hedonic shoppers.

For instance, Amazon is a great example of an online retailer that has diversified the shopping experience to satisfy both utilitarian and hedonic shoppers. Amazon is no longer focused on selling books only (utilitarian); it offers anything and everything a customer can look for (hedonic).

A study named, “Hedonic shopping motivations”, by Mark Arnold and Kristy Reynolds, revealed the hedonic reasons people go shopping and they came up with six major categories of hedonic shopping motivations:

  1. Adventure shopping – Driven by stimulation and excitement.
  2. Gratification shopping – To enhance one’s mood.
  3. Social shopping – Offers pleasure of interacting with others.
  4. Idea shopping – To stay updated with the latest trends.
  5. Role shopping – Offers pleasure from buying for others.
  6. Value shopping – Feel the excitement of finding deals (not necessarily make use of the deals found).

The immediate thought would be – how do I know what the motives of my visitors are. Google analytics and other analytics tools provide us with lots of information about your customers and their behavior, but there is no data about their motivations. Why did a visitor come to your website, what exactly made them abandon the shopping cart or how you can influence the customer’s motives to help them complete the purchase cycle.

You will have to get an idea of the motives by looking at the products you deal with. For instance, if you offer luxurious products such as jewelries or designer clothing, chances are a large portion of your audience has hedonic motives. One effective way to identify the motives is to create opinion polls or a short questionnaire. Remember the questions must be simple and to the point, otherwise your audience might abandon it as well.

So do you have to live with the fact that people would come and abandon carts and there is nothing you can do? Not really! It is true that no matter how good your website is in terms of shopping experience and functionality, the hedonic shoppers can abandon the carts anytime, but you can do things to convert them into customers as well.

Have a look at this:

70 – 95 percent of the first-time visitors who abandon a page without performing a desired action (including those who abandon carts), do not give up the idea of returning to the website to perform the intended action.

Again, 75 percent of customers who abandon the carts intend to return to the website to complete the purchase process – according to SeeWhy. As a matter of fact, about 11 – 29 percent of them return within 4 weeks.

visitors who abandon a page

This means, there is a fair percentage of people among the cart abandoners, who can be converted into customers. But how? Keep reading to know more.

Improving Your Relationship with Hedonic Shoppers

The next obvious question is – how to engage hedonic shoppers and convert them into customers. To achieve this goal, you have to:

  • Get a point of contact – e-mail address, social profile, etc.
  • Get back to the hedonic audience to promote your products and services through triggered mails.
  • Optimize the shopping experience to include more fun and entertaining elements.

Now let’s get into the details of each strategy.

E-mail

Have a look at the following statistics:

  • 77 percent of customers prefer to receive marketing messages via e-mail – MarketingLand
  • 80 percent of online retailers fail to get back to the cart abandoner by sending triggered e-mails – BizReport
  • Almost 78 percent of marketers have been able to achieve good to excellent results by triggering cart abandonment e-mails – Exacttarget

So if you are not triggering e-mails to the cart abandoners, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities. By sending e-mails, you engage the hedonic shoppers and create a strong relationship with them. Tell them that you will do everything to make the shopping experience even more exciting, incorporate new ideas and improve the overall value of your website.

Engagement that works wonders for utilitarian shoppers might not be enough to allure the hedonic shoppers. To allure this segment, you need to be more creative. To help marketers understand how to engage the hedonic shoppers better, let’s take a look at the six factors of customer engagement and then at the drivers for the various categories of hedonic motivations.

Six factors of customer engagement

  1. Focused attention
  2. Perceived usability
  3. Endurability
  4. Novelty
  5. Aesthetics and
  6. Felt involvement

Drivers for the hedonic audiences

  • Adventure shoppers are driven by the aesthetics of the website. Offer these people with a fun shopping experience to convert them into customers. By providing them with certain level of thrill, you can entice them to come back to your site.
  • Gratification shoppers are driven by the aesthetics and felt involvement. Make the gratification shoppers feel better while they perform shopping and build a strong relationship with your customers to persuade them to come back to you again and again.
  • Social shoppers are driven by the felt involvement. Creating a perfect set up for the social shoppers might be difficult, since these people love to be in company of their friends and family, but by engaging them in innovative ways, you can retain the social shoppers on your website.
  • Idea shoppers get driven by novelty. In order to allure this segment of hedonic shoppers, you must ensure that the website is up-to-date with the latesttrends and keeps the visitors updated about the latest trends as well. Show your creative side to entice the idea shoppers.
  • Role shoppers are driven by felt involvement.
  • Value shoppers get driven by novelty and the felt involvement. This segment of people is perfect for e-mail campaigns. Take the example of Groupon. They created their websites to keep the value shoppers on their toe by promising to provide them with attractive deals every day. So create a strong e-mail strategy to win the hearts of the value shoppers.

Groupon

So in order to reach out to all classes of the hedonic shoppers, you must do everything to enhance your e-mail lists. Here is how you can build an extensive e-mail list:

  • Create impressive landing pages: Build an impressive and optimized landing page that compels the visitors, both hedonic and utilitarian, to sign up by entering their e-mail addresses.
  • A highly optimized sign-up form: Design a sign-up form that allures the visitors to subscribe by promising to offer value in return.
  • Exit-intent Technology: This is an advanced technology that detects the mouse movement of a particular user to detect abandonment. The moment the user intends to abandon the cart, an exit overlay is activated that offers high-level engagement for the user, in order to hold them back.

By engaging the hedonic shoppers and establishing a relation with them, you can increase the conversion rate and sales for your online store. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. You will have to put in a lot of effort to understand what the hedonic shoppers are exactly looking for and optimize the shopping experience accordingly.

Let’s take a quick look at what has been discussed till now:

  • Hedonic shoppers make a large portion of shopping cart abandoners
  • Shopping carts are not abandoned only due to poorly optimized shopping carts or check-out processes.
  • Instead of frowning over the cart abandonment numbers, take each abandonment as a new opportunity.
  • Create a list of cart abandoners, using the latest technologies like exit-intent technologies, landing pages, etc. to reach out to the hedonic audience and convert them into potential customers.
  • Optimize your website to incorporate fun, excitement and entertainment to allure the hedonic shoppers.
  • Try to offer the best possible engagement for your visitors.

Conclusion

The shopping habits have changed drastically over the decade and it is necessary for the online retailers to adapt to this change to survive the immense competition. Remember, website visitors have different motives to visit your website that range from emotional to rational. So in order to entice visitors from all segments (utilitarian and hedonic), you must create a blend of user-friendliness, functionality and features that evoke emotions that persuade the customers to complete the purchase cycle.

Thus, instead of trying to reduce the shopping cart abandonment rates, try to engage users and encourage them to buy products.

Image Source: (1, 2, 3)

7 tips small business owners can implement to help combat stress

how to combat stress

 

There are plenty of wonderful upsides to being your own boss. You’re in control, you set the hours and often you’re doing what you love or following a dream. Of course, it would be unrealistic to paint everything as rosy. Alongside all the great things that come with owning your own business there are also plenty of challenging aspects you have to deal with. The responsibility of sole management and shouldering all the worries, coupled with spending hours working alone can sometimes cause stress, lack of motivation and make you feel isolated.

We take a look at some useful tips to help you deal with stress when it raises its head. Obviously we are not suggesting stress can be erased completely, after all it is part and parcel of owning a small business, but hopefully by implementing a few of the tips we’ve outlined below it will help you manage stress better to reduce its overall impact.

7 tips to help manage stress at work

71% of small business owners experience high levels of stress.”

Being you own boss, juggling lots of balls and carrying the full weight of success and failure on your own shoulders is undoubtedly stressful at times. Indeed, stress is a key issue for small business owners and solo entrepreneurs. The very nature of small business ownership opens you up to higher levels of stress. At its worse it can lead to exhaustion, depression and hinder your ability to run your business.

Eradicating stress completely is probably unlikely. However learning to identify what triggers stress and taking steps to manage it can make it big difference to how you cope during stressful periods.

1.Learn how to identify stress triggers

Of course different people will have different stress triggers but one of the major triggers is the feeling that you lack of control over a situation – from deliveries not arriving in time, other people’s behaviour and even the weather (the list goes on and on).  Accepting that there are certain things you will never be able to control and finding ways to manage them as best you can when they arise will help you better cope when things are out of your immediate control.

Most of us have an idea of what it is that really our stress levels through the roof. For me it’s having too much on my plate to the point I can’t see the wood for the trees. I’ve learnt that on those days I’m far from at my best. Such days don’t go away but by recognising this I’ve learnt to try to pre-empt the impact by planning ahead where I can.  If I know I’ve got a ridiculously busy day or week coming up then I try to see if there is anything within my control that I can do beforehand to alleviate some of the pressure.

Point is, if you can learn to recognise what makes your stress levels rise you are better able to work on positive ways to manage it.

2. Recognise the first signs of stress

Recognising the first signs of stress can help you manage your symptoms before they take over and damage your health and your ability to successfully manage your business. Stress can take different physical and mental forms. Some common signs include:

  • A feeling of being unable to cope
  • Anger and aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy
  • Sleeplessness
  • Demotivation
  • Exhaustion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low mood

Recognising that you may be suffering from higher than normal levels of stress will help you take steps to address those symptoms or if needed get help from your GP.

3. Re-evaluate your time-management skills

 

effective timemangement

It probably feels that time management is wheeled out every time stress at the workplace is mentioned – so forgive me if you’ve read it all before! However putting effective time-management into practice really can help you reduce your stress levels and means you’re less likely to find yourself  working ridiculous hours to get things done. Examples of good time management techniques include;

Plan. Schedule 30 minutes a the beginning of each day to plan what you’ll be doing that day.

Prioritise. Divide your tasks into things that are critical (they absolutely have to be done today), essential (are important to the smooth running of your business but aren’t as urgent as your critical tasks and then everything else (nice but not essential tasks). Deal with critical first, then move on to essential and finally tackle everything else once the ‘critical’ and ‘essential’ tasks have been dealt with.

Remove distractions.  When you have critical or urgent tasks that need your full attention, remove all potential distractions. Put your phone on silent (people can always leave a message) and sign-out of email, instant messenger and social media.

Allow for interruptions. When planning your day allow some additional time for interruptions when you will need to be unexpectedly pulled away from the task at hand.

Organise your workspace. A messy workspace will hinder your attempts at effective time-mangement. So keep your work space organised and clutter free.

4.Outsource where you can

If you are a start-up with a very tight budget, outsourcing may seem like a no-go option. However, you don’t have to outsource something major to benefit. Is there something you could delegate to help out more at home so you not fretting about cleaning the house or making the dinner on top of everything else. Try looking at it from a business perspective as well. Is your time being well-spent? For example are you spending time stuffing envelopes instead of getting on with sales calls which could generate new business?

As a small business owner you are probably juggling lots of hats. Take a step back and see if you can relinquish some control to someone else – perhaps in an area you don’t enjoy or to someone  who is better placed to do it than you? Freeing up this time will leave you more time to focus on other important areas.

5. Look after yourself

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” Helen Keller

Taking care of your mind and body is essential to keeping your stress levels down. Healthy eating, exercise, getting enough sleep and relaxation time are essential. Being able to draw the line is also important – work cannot be all-consuming as it is simply unsustainable in the long run. Taking good care of yourself is intrinsically linked to feeling positive  and the more positive your feel the more optimistic you are about work and the world around you.

positive thinking

Practice positive thinking. Think about all the great things you’ve achieved, remind yourself why you wanted to be your own boss and what you love about your business. Positive thinking can have a significant impact on how you deal with challenges.

6. Realistic goal setting

There is a tendency for us to heap pressure upon ourselves to achieve goals and we are often overly hard on ourselves if we don’t always attain them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with aiming high, just make sure that when you are setting goals against which you are measuring yourself and your business, you are being realistic. Otherwise you are simply setting yourself up for failure before you’ve even started. A good goal should be a challenge but ultimately achievable.

7. Tackle isolation

“52% of all small businesses are home-based.” –Forbes

There is no doubt that being a small business owner can sometimes make you feel a bit on the lonely side. In the UK two-thirds of businesses are owned and run by just one person and 52% of small businesses are based at home. When you are feeling stressed it really helps to be around other people for support. If you work in a busy office and have a bad day you can often unload to your colleagues However,  if you work from home alone you don’t always have that opportunity.

tackle isolation at work

Have a think of ways you can introduce a bit more interaction into your busy working day. For example.

  • Hot desks. There are more and more co-working spaces popping up. Here you can hire a workspace. Even if you can only afford to do it once a week it means that you’ll be surrounded by individuals in a similar situation as yourself who will also probably appreciate a bit of company whilst working.
  • Join local business networking groups. This is a great way to meet other likeminded local business people who probably have to deal with similar issues as you.
  • Attend events relevant to your business and if appropriate think about opening a pop-up shop every so often.
  • Get outside at lunch for a walk or to have your sandwich.
  • Go for a coffee and take your emails with you – emails are something you can often answer on the move. You are out and about amongst people and are getting some work done at the same time!

Of course, it’s unlikely that whatever you put in place is going to eradicate stress completely as it is often part and parcel of owning a small business, but by implementing even just a few of these tips it may help you bring stress down to a more manageable level.

Ultimately keep reminding yourself of all the great benefits being your own boss brings and remember to look after yourself and pat yourself of the back every now and then as never forget that as a small business owner, you are absolutely vital to a thriving economy.

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on managing stress at the workplace, so please do leave a comment. 

4 Ways to Boost eCommerce Average Order Value

Thoughtful woman holding shopping bags and looking up

Want to improve the amount of traffic and the number of conversions of your eCommerce store? Who doesn’t? These are, after all, imperative to grow your revenue. But for that you need to utilize the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal, which, unfortunately, is often overlooked. Yes, we are talking about your Average Order Value (AOV).

Average Order Value or AOV is a criterion used to compare your marketing campaigns’ efficiency. In addition, this key metric helps you understand the type of eCommerce customers you currently have. Using this metric you can understand how each traffic segment of your website is converting and where you need to improve to enhance your revenue. In short, it is your tool to create personalized marketing strategies for a better conversion rate.

Why Increase Your AOV?

The benefits of increasing your Average Order Value are pretty obvious. To begin with, it helps you increase your cash flow really fast, which is obviously one of your basic goals. And that’s not all; there are several other benefits of working your way out to improve your AOV.

For instance, you can simply increase your AOV by installing a plugin for your eCommerce shopping cart. In comparison, acquiring traffic not only has a significant cost attached to it but is also more difficult to achieve, thanks to the frequent search engine algorithm updates we are being subjected to these days.

It may also happen that any of your traffic sources might disappear one fine day, leaving you clueless and dumbfound. If you have worked on your AOV and improved it, chances are you will be in a much better position, while reducing your marketing spend.

But before we sum up the tips to improve your Average Order Value, you need to know how it is calculated. The AOV formula is quite simple to comprehend:

AOV = Revenue / Number of orders

Using this formula and a web analytics software like Google Analytics you can easily start optimizing your conversion rate. All you need to do is get the exact average order value from Google Analytics for each traffic source. Consider the numbers mentioned in Transactions and Revenue sections (under Acquisition -> All Traffic) and use the above mentioned formula to calculate the AOV.

Now that you know how to calculate your AOV, it’s time to look at some of the tactics to increase your Average Order Value.

1. Product Recommendations

More often than not, customers are only focused on what they are looking for. As a result, they overlook to browse your eCommerce store to find more. This, in turn, results in smaller carts, a.k.a. smaller Average Order Values.

While you cannot change how customers will behave, there is a very simple solution to improve your average order values. Simply add product recommendations on your product and check out pages. If you don’t believe us, consider that Amazon has been using this trick for quite some time now. Its recommendations come in forms of “Frequently bought together,” “Customers who viewed/bought this item also viewed/bought,” “Frequently bought with the item you added” and so on.

Product Recommendations
All that this eCommerce giant does is collect data about its visitors’ past shopping and browsing habits and combines that information with its algorithm and voila, it provides personalized product recommendations that buyers are most likely to purchase.

Profiling popular products or products that your customers have previously browsed is perhaps one of the best ways to increase your Average Order Values. In addition, it helps in minimizing friction before checkout. Studies indicate that 2 to 5 percent of an eCommerce revenue is attributed to product recommendations. Better yet, this increased revenue can go up as high as 20 percent, depending on how effectively you pair up products.

Similarly, showing your customers cross-selling options also helps you to improve your AOV. You can use such product recommendation tactics by using phrasing like “Complete the look” or “Get the look” on your eCommerce store and it works particularly well for fashion and apparel stores. It’s convenient for the customer and you can move your products without sounding pushy.

In fact, you can use cross-selling for almost all type of eCommerce sites. All you need to do is recommend additional and/or complementary products. Got a customer purchasing a Windows 10 laptop! Why don’t you recommend a laptop bag to go with it?

2. Cashback Techniques

Another simple way to increase your Average Order Value is by utilizing cashback technique. In fact, cashback technique is quite a traditional tactic used by retailers to attract and retain customers. How many times have you seen eCommerce stores offering free vouchers on your next purchase? Quite some time; the Internet is filled with ads like “Spend $100 and get $20 cash-back on your next purchase.” All you need to do is spend a certain amount and you can redeem the voucher.

Cashback TechniquesThis is a great way to increase your repeat purchases and Average Order Values per customer. But to leverage this tactic you need to first set a spending threshold, ideally slightly above your present average order amount. This will help you identify shoppers who qualify for a cash-back reward on their next purchase.

Once this spending threshold is determined you need to format your offer and market it as aggressively as possible to increase its visibility. Display them front and center on your homepage as well as on other pages. The goal is to make your customers aware of the target number as clearly and vividly as possible while they shop so that they keep on adding products to their carts to make it to the cash-back minimum. Apart from displaying such offers on your webpage, you can even spread the words through SMS marketing.

You can also offer cashback in other ways. For example, you can build partnerships with other companies to allow your customers to redeem the gift vouchers at several purchase points. This will further inspire buyers to reach the cash-back minimum. Another way to increase your site conversion is through “refer a friend and get cashback programs.” All your users need to do is refer a friend and get cashback in form of a gift voucher to be redeemed on their next purchase.

Gift Vouchers

Cashback technique works like a charm and generally outperforms any other promotional techniques when it comes to increasing your Average Order Value. Better yet, it even encourages return visits and helps you turn your one-time visitors into loyal fans.

3. Free Delivery

Along with the cashback technique, free delivery option (when bought item(s) over a particular amount) is a great way to increase your Average Order Value. Free delivery is something almost all customers expect when making an online purchase but providing free delivery is a major financial challenge for most retailers, especially if it is smaller AOV. Setting free delivery threshold is a great solution to this problem.

Free Delivery

Just like the cashback technique, you need to determine a spending threshold. For this, consider the average site spend first and how much the delivery costs you. Once you have the numbers, set an amount slightly above your current average order amount. Also, display the amount required to get free delivery on your product as well as checkout page to use this tactic effectively.

In essence, this technique combines upselling and cross-selling with an incentive to increase your Average Order Value. For example, if a customer is purchasing an item worth $40, display a message like “spend another $10 to get free delivery” to improve your AOV. And if you are still not convinced about free shipping, consider the following findings:

So what are you waiting for? Just dive in.

4. Gamification

A more contemporary technique, gamification can not only help you engage users but also make them buy more. McDonalds, for instance, used this tactic though in form of Monopoly Campaign UK to increase its Average Order Value.

Gamification
This technique works because of its meaningful structure and reward systems. Let’s see how McDonalds used it. McDonalds allows users to peel off a prize (stickers) from their meal, giving them an instant prize in form of a monopoly piece. This way, users can collect monopoly sets to win big prizes.It is quite obvious that the larger meals at McDonalds had more stickers on them, enticing people to spend on them.

McDonalds achieved two things with their persuasive gamification technique. First, it increased their AOV and second, it increased the chances of a returning visit. You too can achieve a similar result with gamification; all you need to do is create an appealing system that exceeds your buyers’ expectations.

That said, you really don’t need to create a game to entice your buyers to purchase more (although you can always do that if you have the resources). Setting an effective rewarding system based on purchasing points too can help you obtain a similar result. Announce a particular point for every order they make and offer a significant discount when they reach a pre-determined threshold. For example, “Get 5 points for each purchase and claim $30 off for 100 points.”

Gamification is a great idea for customer retention as it helps you create a relationship with your buyers, making them come back to you time and again.

Conclusion

While there are several ways to incorporate AOV strategies to improve your conversion rates, their effectiveness largely depends on your eCommerce solution. Most shopping cart systems include these basic AOV features and offer add-ons and plugins for them. However, if your eCommerce software fail to support them, you should better upgrade to a shopping cart solution that does. Using these simple, yet powerful tools is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to increase your AOV.

Image Source: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Abandoned cart emails. Helpful tips for start-ups and small business ecommerce

shopping cart abandonment emails

If you are selling online, chances are a constant bugbear will be the number of customers abandoning their items before completing the checkout process. If you are just starting out and panicking at so many people leaving your website with unpurchased items in their baskets, don’t despair you’re not alone.  Shopping cart abandonment is an ongoing issue for even the biggest of players.

Indeed according to research, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate stands at around 68.63%.  It’s inevitable that some customers will sail away and will never complete that particular purchase no matter what you do. However some customers can be enticed back to complete the sale.  One of the most effective ways of doing that is through abandoned cart / dropped basket emails.

What are abandoned cart emails?

In a nutshell an abandoned cart email is usually triggered emails that get sent out when a customer leaves a website having added stuff to their shopping basket but not having completed the checkout process. Its purpose is to remind people of what they have left in their basket and encourages them to go back and complete the purchase. Below is a recent example of one I received from Amazon:

Amazon abandoned shopping cart email

Why do people abandon their baskets mid-purchase

There are a myriad of reasons that customers abandon their shopping carts halfway through the checkout process. ClickZ identifies the following as the top six reasons:

  1. Unexpected shipping and delivery costs
  2. Had to create an account to complete a purchase
  3. Just conducting research
  4. Payment security concerns
  5. Confusing checkout
  6. Couldn’t find the discount / coupon code

Some of these will be within your control. For example if you have a long, convoluted checkout process then you can take steps to fix it. Other reasons are going to be completely out of you control such as a customer’s telephone rang mid-purchase and they simply forgot to go back and complete the process.

A positive aspect to all this is that 75% of all visitors who abandon their cart do actually intend to buy. This is where shopping cart abandonment emails come in to play.

Tips for creating successful dropped basket emails

Implementing shopping abandonment emails can be great way to pull back some sales you may have thought were lost. Outlined below are some inspiring statistics for cart abandonment emails from an Econsultancy article.

  • 11.6% (over a tenth) of shopping basket abandonment emails are clicked.
  • 29.9% of shopping abandonment email clicks lead to a purchase back on website
  • 44.1% of all shopping cart abandonment emails are opened.
  • The average order value of purchases from shopping cart abandonment emails is 14.2% higher than average purchases.
  • Every single dropped basket email sent delivers over $8 in revenue.

The trick is to make them as successful as possible. So we’ve outlined some helpful tips on how to create winning shopping cart abandonment emails for your business.

Timing

Probably the most important element to getting an uplift in conversions is the timing of your email – wait too long before sending a reminder and your customer may well have gone elsewhere. The consensus seems to be that the initial abandonment email should be sent within the first hour of a customer abandoning their basket. In an ideal scenario you would be aiming to catch a potential customer before they leave their device and forget all about their half-finished purchase.

Here is a sample one from Boden that I received within 20 mins from abandoning my basket:

Boden abandoned cart email

Create a schedule of abandoned cart emails

To get the most conversions, consider sending out more than one reminder. It’s great to try to grab them as soon as possible, but also implement further follow-up emails. According to HubSpot:

  • 95% of people who purchased after abandoning a cart took up-to two weeks to complete their purchase. 

Create a sequence of timely reminders to try to catch those who take longer to make a purchase or who need a little more encouragement.

Strong subject header

In any email the subject  header is important. To even get opened it needs to stand out from all the other emails in the inbox. Do make it clear in the subject header that your email is reminding them that they have left something in their shopping cart.

There are lots of different approaches from creating a sense of urgency or excitement, to reminding customers about the product they left or even using humour. Just find the right approach for your audience. For example:

Product: Amazon takes a no-nonsense approach and just lists the product left behind:

“Zap Arsenal Red Crest Fleece Blanket”

Abandoned cart: White stuff is straight to the point:

“Don’t forget to complete your order”

Humour: Boden’s is slightly more cheeky

“You left something… but where? Oh look…”

Think about your copy

As well as pointing out to your customer what exactly it is that they’ve left in their cart, also use your copy to try to remind customers about why they chose to put the product in their basket in the first place.

John Lewis includes a clear link back to the product details so the customer can easily remind themselves of the product benefits.

Email copy

Use your copy to create a sense of urgency and possible loss.  For example the product is selling fast and you may not be able to guarantee how long the product in will remain in stock. Try and convey to the customer what they may risk missing out on if they don’t act soon.

Use images

If you can, include a visual of the product your customer has left in their basket. It tells people in an instant exactly what it is you’re emailing them a reminder about and can help reinforce the reasons they chose the product or service in the first place .

Here is an example of a Boden dropped basket email with a strong visual of the product in question.

Include an image in shopping cart abandonment email

Clear call to action

Always include a very clear call to action that takes the customer back to their basket so they can easily complete their purchase. Don’t tuck it away in the corner of youR email but display it prominently so the customer won’t miss it. Also make it very clear to the customer what it is you are asking them to do.

In the White Stuff email below, they have put two clear call to action buttons on the email, with a very straightforward call to action: Complete Order.

strong call to action

Abandoned cart emails can be a great way to pick up those customers who, for whatever reason, have left the checkout mid purchase. A well-considered dropped basket series may help turn around a sale that could potentially have been lost for ever!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on shopping cart abandonment emails so please do leave a comment. 

Social media advertising – top tips for small business ecommerce

social networks

If you’re a small online business or start-up, chances are you’ve already dipped your toe into social media. For example you’ve probably established a business presence across the social media platforms relevant to your target market. Social media has become an integral part of marketing and if you are looking to increase your reach across these networks, it may well be worth considering advertising your business on social media.

Social media advertising continues to be big business and has seen phenomenal growth over the last few years. Indeed, according to research;

What opportunities can social media advertising bring to small online businesses?

Most of the key social media platforms offer advertising options which, when executed well, can offer small business ecommerce a number of advantages. For example:

Targeted Audience. Social platforms enable you to drill down in terms of targeting. Allowing you to be specific about who you are looking to target, not only through basic demographics, but by purchase behaviour and interests. Facebook even enables you to target ‘Lookalike Audiences’ – opening the door to a wider, but still closely related audience.

Low cost of entry. Entry costs for social media advertising isn’t prohibitive to small businesses. You can set your budget on a daily or campaign basis – spending only what you can afford.

Immediacy. Social media advertising is immediate and offering you great flexibility. You can create, launch and tweak campaigns quickly and easily.

Brand awareness: Social media exposure amongst a wider, targeted audience will help increase your reach and build awareness of your brand.

Easily track performance: Most social networks offer insightful analytics to enable you to easily track your advertising campaigns’ performance and ROI.

social media advertising

Top tips for creating great social media ads

Before you embark on advertising on your chosen social media platform or platforms, here are a few tips to help ensure success.

Clear goals and objectives:  Be very clear about what you want your advertisement to achieve?  For example are you looking to drive traffic to your website, raise awareness of a new product, get more page likes, grow attendance at an event or is it a brand building exercise?   Establishing clear goals will help your focus advertising making it easier to create the right content .

When you create an ad within  Facebook you are given a list of advertising objectives – so match up your goal with the objective you select.

Create goals and objectives

Target your audience. Be very clear about who it is you are trying to target. For example, are you going to break it down by demographics, interests or purchasing behaviour. Different audiences will respond differently to particular content. An advertisement that may appeal to one segment may not be so successful with another. If you can focus on a specific audience you can adapt your ad to reflect the triggers of that particular group.

Set your budget. Have a clear idea about your budget before you start. Otherwise you run the risk of getting carried away and spending more than you can afford. Set a daily maximum spend or a maximum campaign limit. You can always adjust your budget at a later date once you’ve tested the water.

Use interesting visuals: Social media is becoming an increasingly visual medium. Use high-quality, creative images to make your advertisement stand out from the crowd.

Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.

There are a number of excellent image libraries available online where you can source interesting and engaging images such as Shutterstock, istockphoto, freedigitalphotos and dreamstime. If you’re on a tight budget then check out Pixabay, they have a great library of images that are free to use even for commercial purposes. Facebook also allow you to select from hundreds of Shutterstock images at no cost when creating an ad.

Be mobile friendly:  Increasingly, people are more likely to access social networks via mobile. Keep this in mind when you are creating your ads; as chances are it will be viewed on a small screen.

mobile friendly

 

Call to action: Even when you have limited space to work with a clear call to action is essential. Ensure your audience is left in no doubt about what it is you are asking them to do. For example, when you are creating a Facebook advertisement you can select from some of the following call to action buttons:

  • Shop Now
  • Learn More
  • Sign Up
  • Use App
  • Book Now
  • Download

Landing page: Don’t undo a great ad by sending your audiences to a general page on your website. Create campaign specific landing pages that reflect the content  and reinforce the message of your advertisement. Campaign specific landing pages will provide a better conversion rate.

Track response: Keep on top of how you ads are performing – what ROI are they providing? Most social media networks enable you to closely monitor and measure the performance of your campaigns.  Analysing your campaign analytics will help you identify what is working well, or not so well, so you can amend your campaigns accordingly.

Advertising options for social media platforms.

Most social networks offer advertising options for businesses. For further information for individual platforms, check out the links below:

Facebook: Facebook Adverts

TwitterTwitter Ads

Pinterest: Promoted Pins

LinkedIn: LinkedIn Advertising

Instagram: Advertising on Instagram

Exploring the advertising options offered on the  social media platforms that you are already using as business, can help amplify your social media presence through creating specific, highly targeted adverts at a manageable cost. So if you haven’t already tried social media advertising then it’s worth testing the water with your business.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on social media advertising, so please do leave a comment.

7 small business tips for really successful blogging

small business blogging

We know just how important content is to online success therefore creating engaging, fresh and relevant content on your small business website is a must. So where does blogging fit in and just how useful a tool is it for ecommerce?

Blogging is one of the best ways to support content on your site. If you’ve not yet started a blog or dipped a toe in but never really got going, then take a moment to read our helpful tips below.

As more and more consumers are reading blog posts, blogging has become increasingly prevalent. Indeed there are more than 33 million new posts on WordPress alone each month. According to industry reports, marketers view blogging as an integral element of content marketing with over half selecting blogging as their most important type of content.

What can blogging offer your small online business?

If you are considering whether blogging is worthwhile and wondering if the benefits will outweigh the cost of committing your precious time and resources, here are a few statistics highlighting the potential advantages blogging can bring to your ecommerce business.

+ Traffic: Blogging creates 55% more traffic

+ Leads: Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog.

+ Customers: 78% of companies that update their blogs daily have acquired a customer from their blog.

+ Links: Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.

+ Trust: Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.

+ ROI: Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.

Our 7  top tips for successful small business blogging

1. Don’t blindly leap in

Before you start posting blogs left right and centre, put aside some time to plan. Have a purpose and desired outcome – what is it you are hoping to achieve from your blog? For example is it to increase traffic, build customer relationships or establish credibility? Think about your audience. Who is it you are writing for? What are their interests? What information would they find helpful, entertaining or engaging?

On a practical level think about what is involved in blogging. Is it going to be just you writing articles? If so what time you can realistically afford to commit. The better your planning and more certain you are of your purpose, the better you will be able to focus your valuable time and efforts.

2. Own your blog

Blogging is a great way to bring some personality to your brand and give a human face to your business. So when you’re writing, write as you – don’t try to take on another persona. A good tip is to write as your would speak, follow this and you’ll soon find a blogging style that you feel comfortable with. The great thing about blogging is that it can be informal (by this I don’t mean sloppy – more on this later), it is a chance for you to express your views and opinions in your own way.

3. Follow a formula

Use a formula for blogging

Of course we’re not all natural writers. The majority of us have to spend time carefully crafting blogs. A helpful tip is to follow a simple formula. For example whenever I write a blog I pretty much follow the same steps every time:

  1. Research and gather relevant information
  2. Create a detailed outline plan of what content will go where and in what order (beginning, middle, end)
  3. Write without interruption (leave worrying about correct grammar and spelling until it’s time to proof)
  4. Proof read, edit and proof again.

Another excellent formula that will help you manage your time better – especially if you’re finding it is taking you all day to write 800 words, is Blogger Sidekick’s ‘Shake and Bake’. Take a moment to check it out.

4. Looks do matter

“In 2016 this trend will see graphical content (including high-resolution images, infographics, design elements and icon sets, and images designed for sharing on social networks) come to the fore…. images will become a more central feature of the blog post.” DOZ Trends in blogging 2016 

You may have written the best article ever, but quite frankly if it looks un-inviting to read then nobody will bother with it. How you present your post is really important.

Layout: Reams of uninterrupted text is enough to put anyone off. So use subheadings, bullet points, quotations and italics to break your text into easily manageable chunks for your reader to digest.

Visuals: Visual content is becoming increasingly important so think about what images or graphics you can use to help support your text and engage your audience. Use infographics and video as well to vary your posts – they are almost guaranteed to pull in readers.

Quality: We mentioned earlier about how you can be informal when writing a blog post – however this doesn’t extend to not bothering to check for poor spelling or grammar. Typos and poor grammar doesn’t mean informal it just looks unprofessional. So always proof read before you hit the publish your post button!

5. Combat writers block

writers block

It is really frustrating to be sitting at your desk ready to write an article only to find you have absolutely no idea about what to write about. Here are some tips I use when I need a bit of inspiration.

Check out your competitors. What are your competitors posting?  Can you approach the same topic from a different angle?

Ideas notebook. Chances are your best ideas won’t come to you whilst you are sitting at your desk ready to write. More often than not they’ll happen at random moments such as on the bus, in the bath or washing up. When they do occur don’t waste them, jot them down and put them into an ideas notebook. This way when you’re short of inspiration you can refer to your notebook.

Google search. Simple but helpful. Type a general topic into the search box, scroll down to the bottom of the page and check out the list of alternative searches Google comes up with. Here’s a screen grab of one I did for ‘blogging tips’.

google search for bloggng ideas

Content generator tools. There are some excellent free tools available to help you generate some blog topics ideas. Checkout the links below:

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

Portent Content Idea Generator

Build your own blog: ideas generator

6. Optimise your posts

After you’ve put in all that time and effort to write a great post, it is important to optimise your article to ensure it gets the attention it deserves.

Be search engine friendly. Use relevant keywords and key phrases in the title and body of your post to make it easier for search engines to find and rank you.

Craft a great headline. Often it’s the headline that decides whether a person goes on to read the full article. Spend time crafting a good headline using your keywords and with the aim of capturing the interest of your target audience. If your stuck try this simple headline formula from Koozia:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rational + Promise

Make it easy for readers to share. A great post deserves sharing, so make it easy for your readers to share your post with others. A simple way to do this is to add in  social network share icons.

Promote. Tell people about your great new post. Bring your article to the attention of your customers by sharing it across your small business’ social media networks, send out an email alert and add it on to your email newsletters.

7. How to deal with time constraints

 

how to deal with time constraints

OK, as a small business owner you are always going to be under time pressures, but the long-term benefits blogging brings means it really is well worth the time you put in. Every article you post will continue to pull in traffic for many months and even years to come. We’ve got a few tips to help you combat time constraints.

Build up a bank of articles. During quieter times try to get a ahead with writing articles so you have a bank of posts you can use when times are really busy. This will mean you will be able to continue to publish regular content.

Guest blogs. These can be a great way to get some additional content for your blog especially when you are pressed for time. Ask other industry experts, staff members, suppliers, affiliates, even customers with great stories about using your product or service to write a post. Just ensure you put clear guidelines in place and have final sign-off.

Curated content: A round-up of useful articles relevant to your industry can be a great way to create an article when you haven’t the time or resources to write your own. Add your own commentary and opinion and you’ll have a great post. Just ensure you don’t plagiarise or credit yourself with other people’s work.

Hopefully we’ve shown you just how beneficial blogging can be to your business and given you some helpful tips to make writing a blog less daunting, more successful and not quite so time-consuming. Happy blogging!

 

We’d love to hear your own thoughts and experiences on blogging, so please do leave a comment. 

 

 

 

 

9 ways small online businesses can generate website traffic without breaking the bank

 

Drive traffic to your website

We all know how tough it can be launching a small business online. More often than not we are constrained by a tight budget and lack of resources. Driving traffic to your website is essential in order to attract potential customers.

In this post we take a look at how to get visitors to your website when faced with a limited budget and when the only marketing resource is yourself.

9 straightforward and cost-effective ways to drive traffic to your website

We’ve outlined nine key actions to help you generate more traffic to your online business and grow your potential customer base. It will mean time and effort on your part but all the actions are straightforward to implement, will help in the long-term success of your business and won’t break the bank.

1. Content

We’ll kick off with content. Content is the linchpin to everything that you do and if you only take one thing away from this post then it should be the importance and value of having high quality content on your website. Your content should be;

Relevant: Your content should reflect the needs and interests of your audience.

Engaging: Does it read well? Is it interesting? Will it catch your reader’s eye with an easy to follow layout, supported by interesting images (try Pixabay for sourcing great images that are free for you to use).

Shareable: Your content should inspire people to share it with others. 94% of people who share posts do so because they think it might be helpful to others.  

Try enhancing the content of your site with visual content. Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. Think about implementing:

  • Images and photos to support text
  • Videos
  • Infographics

2. Blogging

Following on from content, blogging is one of the best ways to ensure your website is being regularly updated with fresh, relevant content. This is key to driving traffic to your website. Every time you publish a post it provides additional opportunities for your business to appear in search engines results pages. As nicely put by Hubspot – “The only thing blogging costs you: your time.”

 

blogging

Blogging also has the added advantage of offering long-term benefits. Each post you publish will  continue to pull in traffic for months to come. Indeed, Hubspot notes that 70% of the traffic it receives each month to its blog comes from posts that weren’t published in the current month.

3. Referrals

The great thing about referral marketing for small businesses is it inexpensive  and effective. Essentially you are getting current customers to help drive traffic to your business by using word of mouth to promote your products and services to friends and acquaintances.

The key things when it comes to successful referrals is:

  1. Ask your customers. Interestingly, the majority of customers who have had a positive customer experience would be happy to refer a friend and yet only a small proportion do. So you need to actively encourage your customers to recommend your business to friends and family.
  2. Make it easy. You don’t want make your customer jump through hoops to make a referral, so make it as straightforward as possible for customers to refer a friends. Try introducing a refer a friend scheme that incentivises both the customer that provides the referral and the friend they refer.

4. Search Engine optimisation

44% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine. 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) essentially involves making your website search engine friendly and people friendly. It involves researching the right keywords and phrases to generate traffic and improving your site structure to make it easy for search engines to find their way around. Much of it links right back to ensuring your content is relevant, engaging and shareable to your customers.

To find out more about getting starting with Search Engine Optimisation then checkout these two comprehensive guides to getting started with SEO.

  1. MOZ: SEO: The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization 
  2. Google: Search Engine Optimization Guide

5. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

OK, PPC such as Google Adwords will involve you parting with some money however, with pay-per-click advertising you can set your budget to what you can afford to spend and you only pay when someone actually clicks via the advertisement to your website. The key to successful PPC advertising is spending time researching the best keywords for your business – they need to be specific and relevant. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great free tool to start with (you just need to create a Google Adwords Account). It will help you identify keywords and phrases and let you know approximate cost-per-click.

With a bit of playing around and practice Google AdWords is pretty easy to use. Checkout Google Adwords Support will help guide you through the basics of getting started.

 

6. Social Media

80% marketers felt social media increased website traffic 

social networks

 

Social media plays an integral, supporting role in driving traffic. It is a great way for you to promote your content with customers and in turn, makes it very easy for customers to go on and share that content on with their social media contacts.

It is a good idea to start out establishing your business profile on the main networks such as Facebook then concentrate your efforts on the key social networks used by your target audience. For example if you business is jewellery you may find your focus on more visual networks such as Pinterest or Instagram, whereas if you are professional services you may find more of your target audience using LinkedIn or Twitter.

Remember to add social media buttons to your website, blog posts and email communications. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content with their friends.

7. Email

Email is one of your most cost-effective tools with a healthy ROI. Use email to stay and front of your customers and drive traffic to your site. Share content such as promoting your product and services, blog posts, news articles, infographics and events – all linking back to your website. Focus on building up a quality email list of relevant and permission based contacts as ithe quality of your data will reflect the effectiveness of your traffic :

  • Create a newsletter sign-up form on your website (think about incentivising sign-up to boost response).
  • Gather names through events you attend, run quizzes and contests offer promotions.

8. Mobile responsive

Ensuring your website is multi-device compatible is essential for getting more visitors to your website. Your website should display equally well whether it is being viewed on a desktop, tablet or mobile.

responsive design

More and more people are using mobile devices to search the web. Indeed research shows that 60% of web searches in 2015 were conducted from a mobile phone or tablet. Put simply if your website doesn’t view well on a mobile device, people simply won’t take the time to engage with your website. Added to this, if your website is not responsive then it will effect your search engine ranking on mobile searches.

9. Share your URL

Finally make sure you share your website URL at every opportunity. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it is overlooked. Display your website address wherever you can – no matter how insignificant it may first appear: For example;

  • Advertisements
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Letterheads
  • business cards
  • Email signatures
  • Invoice and order acknowledgements
  • Promotional material
  • Packaging.

Of course everything we’ve mentioned in this post will entail time and ongoing effort on your part, however they are all effective and inexpensive ways to drive traffic to your website – with long-term, sustainable results.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experience of driving traffic to your website, so please do leave a comment.

Generate customers through refer-a-friend marketing: top tips for small business ecommerce

REFERRAL Marketing

Essentially refer a friend or referral marketing is using word of mouth to promote your product or service to generate new business.  It is about encouraging your existing clients to tell their friends and family about your business with the hope that their influence will create new customers.

The key to successful recommendations is to offer great customer experience and to actively persuade your current customers to spread the word about your products and services.

What are the benefits to small businesses?

Referral marketing  offers a number of benefits to small online business owners. Key to its power is the fact that the majority of people trust the opinion of friends, family and even other customers over most of the other forms of marketing that we generate.

74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influence in their purchasing decision”

Low cost: With word of mouth marketing, even if you are offering some sort of ‘refer a friend’ scheme, acquisition costs are usually low if not negligible.

Effective: Recommendations from friends are one of the most effective ways to influence the purchasing decision and generate new customers.

Trustworthy: People are far more likely to listen to the opinion of, and trust, people they know.

Targeted: Referral marketing is usually highly targeted. Most people recommending a particular product or service to a friend is doing so because they feel that their friend will be genuinely interested in what it is that they are recommending .

Healthy profit margin: Referred customers are great customers!

  • Referred customers bring 25% higher profit margin
  • Lifetime value is 16% higher for referred customers

How to increase referrals and recommendations

positive customer experience

So we’ve established that getting referral marketing up and running makes sense for your business. So where is a good starting point? Firstly, ensure that you have implemented all the things that will positively influence customers’ experience of your business. Only then look at active ways you can encourage your customers to refer and recommend.

Focus on getting the basics right first

It may sound obvious, but there is no point actively asking your customers to recommend you to their friends if your product, service or all-round customer experience is poor. Nobody is going to refer a friend or post a glowing review if they’ve had a less than positive encounter with a business. So focus first on getting the fundamentals right. For example:

  • Offer exemplary, personalised customer service.
  • Interact and engage with customers.  For example reply to comments posted by customers on social media or your blog posts.
  • Strengthen brand trust and build you business’ authority and credibility. For example create a resources page with industry relevant information, articles and blog posts, speak at relevant conferences and industry events, implement security logos and Trustmarks on your website.

Actively encourage your customers to recommend you

83% of satisfied customers are willing to recommend  products and services but only 29% do.

If you’re confident that your business is all that it should be, then look at how you can actively encourage customers to recommend you to their friends and colleagues. I say actively encourage because even if your customers absolutely love you, the chances are they will still need a bit of nudging in the right direction.

Sometimes, you just need to ask. If you find yourself coming off a particularly positive phone call with a customer then ask if they’d mind providing a review of your product or service. Try posting a request on social media for feedback. It is also a good idea to get bit more proactive with referrals. For example think about setting up a Refer a Friend programme and actively generating customer testimonials.

1.Run a Refer a Friend scheme

A refer a friend scheme is a great way to bring referrals in. Asking customers to provide you with the contact details of a friend who may be interested in your product is a great way to build up your referrals. Keep in mind you may need to incentivise your customers to boost response. In the Boden example below, if a current customer recommends a friend successfully then they receive a £10 Boden voucher and the friend receives 20% off her first order – appealing both to the customer and the friend they refer.

 

refers friend incentive

 

Offering some type of reward or incentive will improve your recommendation rate but it doesn’t necessarily follow that a monetary reward is the most effective. Research indicates that offering a reward increases referral likelihood, but the size of the reward does not matter  and that non-cash incentives are 24% more effective at boosting performance than cash incentives. Ultimately it will depend on your audience and it might  be worth you testing a few alternatives to see what pulls in the best results.

2. Implement customer reviews

Recommendations from friends come at the top of the list for people’s most trusted source of product information. But interestingly online opinions and reviews from other consumers rank pretty highly too.

Start collecting reviews and testimonials from customers to have visible on your website. Ask customers who have recently purchased a product or service for their feedback. You can also sign up to product review platforms  such as Trustpilot or Feefo who will help automate the process for you.

Customer testimonials

Make referrals easy

To help get a response to your requests for feedback, ensure you make it as easy as possible for your customers to refer their friends or leave a review. The more rings customers have to jump through to make a recommendation the lower your response rate. Here is a great example from Hello Fresh’s Refer a Friend scheme. A simple link takes current customers to a registration page where they can quickly and easily enter their friends email addresses – Hello Fresh does the rest.

 

make referrals easy

Referral marketing is a great way for small businesses to generate  new customers. The three key points to take away are:

  1. Make sure you get the basics right first such as excellent customer service.
  2. Actively ask your customers for referrals
  3. Make it is as easy as possible for them to refer their friends.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on Refer a Friend so please do leave a comment. 

Is Your E-Commerce Business Hitting It Right with Its Loyalty Program?

E-Commerce Business Hitting It Right with Its Loyalty Program

How often have you thought of devising a loyalty program for your e-commerce website that fits it just perfectly? After all, there is absolutely no use of having one that isn’t effective.

Several e-commerce retailers create loyalty programs that fail to deliver the desired results, either because they did not appeal to the users or the program itself was difficult to maintain.

On the other hand, there are several e-commerce websites that have benefitted a great deal from the right loyalty programs.

According to Forrester Research Paper, “If you’re set on building brand loyalty, a loyalty program like offering points for purchases in your online store may help in increasing your sales. After all, one loyalty program member spends up to 13% more than two non-members.”

This titbit of information indicates that when crafted properly, an e-commerce loyalty program can serve as a powerful tool that increases conversions. This implies better revenue from existing clients, getting new customers interested in your offerings, reducing customer defection, and lowering shopping cart abandonment.

A strong loyalty program may turn out to be just what your e-commerce website needs.

If you’re planning on starting an e-commerce business or already have one, you need to ensure that you incorporate a kickass loyalty program into your marketing program. Being smart and strategic about it will go a long way in helping you reap its benefits.

Mentioned ahead are a few features to take into consideration to make your loyalty program a roaring success:

1. Keep Things Simple

While it is completely understandable that you want your loyalty program to be a success, you need to think practically. Instead of creating a complex program, you would be better off keeping things simple. That way, the program as well as its goings-on will be more under your control.

Remember, loyalty programs should never be complicated. It is important that the reward system is completely understood by your users. If the points, rewards, levels and achievements leave them perplexed, rest assured that they will lose interest and things will get out of hand for you.

The idea is to create a loyalty program that is easy to get hold of and create an enjoyable shopping experience for the buyer. It does not take more than a few seconds for buyers to decide on whether or not they want to want to join it. It is, therefore, important to provide them with the simplicity they’re looking for and make the program as easy-to-understand as possible.

2. Make It Easy for Users

Make It Easy for Users

As mentioned in the above point, you need to make it as easy as possible for your buyers to join the program. This means removing the barriers between them and the program. Typically, the best way to do so is by allowing users to sign up with their e-mail address.

Apart from their e-mail address, they should also be able to sign up with their social media accounts, especially those customers who are already buying, sharing and interacting on social networks. This is preferred to creating a new login ID just to buy from your website.

3. Simplify the Participation Process

So you’ve got your users to sign up to your loyalty program and wondering about the next step? Let us give you a hint: the rewards should accumulate without the buyers having to fret over it.

More often than not, users get peeved when they have to enter a PIN or a coupon code just to partake in the loyalty program. This needs to be simplified by making it possible for your users to participate by paying with a dedicated card or app, for example.

The convenience you offer will make it easy for users to stay active on your website as a natural response to the great experience they have when shopping with you.

If your users need anything more than a login, card or app to become a part of your loyalty program, then it is probably too complicated to work with. Simplify it and see the difference. It is very likely that your customers will start participating more often.

4. Your Program Should Offer Value

If you want your loyalty program to be enticing to your customers, you have to ensure that it provides them with real value. A lot of loyalty programs tend to be shallow and do not provide rewards that make a difference to customers, which is why they fail. Customers today are smart and they can tell when a program is offered only to get them to sign up.

Keep in mind, a valuable loyalty program is one that pays off. Rewards such as cash-back offers, discounts, couples, rebates, and freebies are always a hit with customers. Tangible rewards will be snapped up quicker than the intangible ones, as the latter are perceived as superficial.

5. Tickle Users’ Curiosity

Your loyalty program will be a lot more effective if it contains an element of surprise (the pleasant kind) and/or mystery (the easy-to-solve kind). If you can tickle their curiosity, you will have them eating from the palm of your hand.

Loyalty programs can work well here as customers will always be waiting with bated breath to find out more about the next level, how to achieve it and what the final outcome is like. And this is exactly what you want!

You can do this effectively by introducing an element of obscurity in your loyalty program. For example, offering undisclosed “special bonuses” to regular customers at the highest level can do the trick. The unspecified bonus could be anything from a special preview of an upcoming sale event to an invitation to a special social event. If they want to find out, they will have to spend at your store and join your program. That’s the crux of the matter: their curiosity drives your sales.

6. Keep Users Engaged

A loyalty program requires continued participation in order to be successful. After all, it is this program that’s going to make your customers want to buy more from you. It is, therefore, critical that participation is encouraged.

How do you foster loyalty among prospective customers? We’ll tell you.

  • Encourage activity. If the customers become dormant, they should know there’s a penalty waiting in the wings. Create the program in a way wherein the points lapse or the redemption amount plummets after a certain period of inactivity.
  • Send reminders and alerts to your customers about their pending reward points and ask them to remain active. Your reminder should also let them know about their potential to earn more. Failure to do so can result in them dropping out from the program over time. There are several ways of doing so. Get their email address and send them email updates; or get them to download your app and provide push notifications. The idea is to egg them on participate as much as they can and improve your conversion rates.
  • Make it better for active users. Your loyalty program should be able to adapt to provide better outcomes to those who are active by enabling them to earn the kind of rewards that matter to them. This approach should help you create tremendous customer buy-in. Your customers will be motivated to stay more active, thanks to the real rewards you provide them with. Further, they will also stay interested and engaged in your loyalty program.

7. Bring a Sense of Growth

Everyone likes to see their hard work and dedication bearing sweet fruits. This logic can be applied to your loyalty program as well. You can do so by enabling your customer to “progress” as he/she buys from you. Create a sense of growth or progress, for instance, by allowing new users to earn new levels of rewards. This will motivate them to shop from you more frequently.

Make your customers feel empowered by enabling them to track their progress and eventually get to the highest level of the program by buying from you.

8. Differentiate and Offer Better Experiences

What is the point of buying from you when your customers can get the same experience from other e-commerce retailers? Why would they give you their money when other brands make them feel more special? The answer to both these questions lies in one word: differentiation.

Set your program apart from that of your competition and give your customers a reason to come back to you by offering better experiences. Your loyalty program should have a feel-good factor attached to it, the kind that is unmatched by any other brand in your league.

9. Give Users the Information They Want

Your customers will love you if you unfailingly answer all their questions. When you devise a loyalty program, rest assured that they will have a zillion questions about it. You need to ensure that you answer each and every one of them and keep ambiguity at bay.

Many a time, it is the most loyal customers who have the most questions. They’re always interested in knowing about the schemes – what they entail, what are the benefits, how they can earn more rewards, and the potential risk factors in the program.

This, however, does not mean that you need to provide them with all the terms and conditions of your loyalty program on the entry page. Rather, make it easy for them to find and access important information when they want it.

10. Let It Become the Talk of Town

If you want your loyalty program to gain maximum traction, make sure you make it easy to share and, therefore, grow. Here are three easy ways to do so:

  • Reward customers who share your loyalty program with others or cajole them to join in. This need not mean that your loyalty program has turned into an affiliate marketing program. You are merely thanking your existing customers for sharing. Most of your customers will share it to avail the rewards. You can bolster this by giving them extra points or rewards for getting their friends and family to sign up, thereby allowing your program to grow.
  • One of the easiest and effective ways of sharing your program is by using social media share buttons. You will do well to add social sharing icons to your rewards page, so that your customers can simply click on them and share to relevant pages. Moreover, this will also make it easy for customers to invite other members of their social network to join in.
  • Make it convenient for your customers to post their reward status online. A lot of reward programs enable customers to inform their online friends about what they’ve just achieved on a reward program. For instance, a built-in widget which generates an automatic message such as “I just won a free trip using my XYZ reward points!” would work well. Typically, users feel a sense of pleasure when they earn a reward, and enjoy telling others about their latest achievement.

Conclusion

While there is no fixed decree that mandates e-commerce businesses to have a loyalty program, having one in place makes perfect sense, especially because loyalty programs are highly instrumental in boosting conversion rates. It may not be easy to start them, and they can also get a tad expensive, but most of the time, the rewards are totally worth it. In fact, they can prove to be a great investment! You too will do well to start a loyalty program for your e-commerce business and avail the improvements, conversions and revenues that await you.

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