by Mike Ricotta - February 14, 2019
In the first installment of this series, Digital Strategy From Scratch, I discussed the first four steps of a successful digital strategy for a new stand-alone e-commerce (B2C) business. The first four steps included launching a good website, optimizing packaging and shipping, optimizing for mobile, and beginning a thoughtful email marketing strategy. These steps represent the first stage of B2C e-commerce. This post is intended to define the steps recommended for stage two of B2C e-commerce.
Stage two of the e-commerce business is where the fun really begins. As we enter into stage two, we have a good foundation and we are beginning to produce some revenue above our operating costs. This stage represents the beginning of growth. During stage two, we want to focus on increasing traffic to our website. This is the stage where we begin letting your potential customers know who you are and how to find you.
Traffic to your website is one of the three most import factors you will need to focus on in order to be successful. Your website conversion rate and your average order value are the other two factors or macro-datapoints that will need your attention but we will discuss these in Digital Strategy From Scratch: Part 3. For now, let’s focus on website traffic!
There are many ways to be discovered by potential online customers. The combination of techniques that will be appropriate for your business will be unique based on your time, ability to produce content, and your budget. The recommendations below are listed in no specific order and will need to be integrated into your traffic generating project plan based on your businesses resource availability.
Display Ads – The term display ads is somewhat generic in terms of search advertising. In this article, I am using the term to define internet search advertising that is not a Google product. We will discuss GoogleAds next. Display ad campaigns are set up, executed, and paid for on SaaS (software as a service) platforms such as AdRoll and Criteo. Display ad services offer a wide range of targeting options and behavioral flow automation that allows you to insightfully interact with your target customers. These platforms are very versatile and can support a wide range of ad types, like text ads, stylized banner and tower ads, and video.
The most powerful feature of display advertising is the ability to serve your ads to a pre-determined ad viewer set based on criteria that you set up through the software. That, coupled with the valuable insights you can gain from your account admin analytics, provides a powerful marketing tool. Each display ad tool has its own unique features and reporting options so take the time to find the right solution.
Display ad software can be costly so it’s not the perfect traffic enhancement solution for every business in stage 2 of growth. The campaign optimization process can take months so the return on ad spend can take time. Make sure you have the in-house resources to take on the operations of the software. Although customer account managers are available to help you navigate the platform, keep in mind that there will be a learning curve and time demand to take full advantage of the software.
Display ad software is powerful but if neglected, it will not generate ROI. Research and planning will help you profit from display advertising just make sure your organization is prepared to take on the requirements of mastery and operations.
Optimize Your Transactional Emails – The great thing about transactional emails is their open rate. However, the value of the transactional email is often overlooked and each one offers a different opportunity! Transactional emails can be delivered from your e-commerce platform or your email service provider. Typically the email service provider offers more powerful segmentation tools and automation features than the e-commerce platform. However, there are some great apps and extensions that will enable you to enhance the functionality of the existing platform. All platforms will offer the staple transactional emails including order confirmation, abandoned cart, shipping confirmation, request feedback. Let’s start with these.
Order Confirmation – The order confirmation email is the email that is triggered as soon as the sales transaction is approved. One thing special about this email is its incredible 50 – 65% open rate which ranks as one of the highest B2C email open rates. This, of course, is because customers want to see that their order has been placed correctly but it offers a perfect marketing opportunity. The more personal you can make this email the better chance you have at driving return traffic. Here are two tips to help you drive return traffic to your site using the order confirmation email.
Tip #1 – Use an app to personalize this email. The important elements to include are a personalized greeting and message of thanks and product images in the purchase confirmation list. You can pull the customers first name from the actual order. The copy should be carefully written to express gratitude for the purchase and reassurance that you are ready and available to provide any follow-up service should there be damage during shipping or missing items. This simple action will mitigate any emotional response should there be an issue upon or after delivery. This is the beginning of post-purchase customer care.
Tip #2 – Incentivise a second purchase. The order confirmation email has a very high open rate, making it a perfect promotional channel. But in order to really drive that second sale, you must make sure that the customer is wowed by the first order. So make sure you get your shipping and packaging right. In addition, it is a good idea to remind your customer of the “next purchase” offer again inside their package. Seed the idea at the point of order confirmation and seal the deal upon delivery.
Shipping Confirmation – The shipping confirmation should be a very simple correspondence. This is your opportunity to let the customer know that you are absolutely taking care of them and should anything unexpected occur along the way, you have their back. The tracking number is the most important piece of information that this email delivers. Make sure the email is well branded, clear and to the point. You may decide to include links to your shipping policy page and your FAQs page.
Abandoned Cart – There are many different strategy positions regarding the use of an abandoned cart email. The basic thought is that a customer who has recently abandoned their cart could be persuaded back to the website to make a purchase. Sending this customer a reminder that they still have products in their cart and suggesting that they return and complete their purchase is the goal of the abandoned cart email. This email is typically automated to send within a specific time period following the cart abandonment.
You will need to experiment with the specific content of this email and the timing following the customer’s cart abandonment to find out what works best for your business. Normally abandon cart emails are delivered anywhere from one hour to three days after the stalled purchase attempt. Many e-commerce retailers elect to offer a purchase incentive to entice would-be customers back to their website. Take the time to run tests with different content, incentives, and timing and you will discover the perfect combination for your customer base.
Request Feedback – The request feedback email can be one of your most powerful transactional emails. This email is typically sent a week or two after a customer makes a purchase. This email is an important part of your re-engagement strategy. The basic idea is to invite the customer back to your website to leave a review of your products or service. This email accomplishes three important goals; you are driving return traffic to your website, you are encouraging customer feedback known as user-generated content, and you are one step closer to driving an additional purchase from the recipient of your email.
User-generated content has recently become a very important sales tool for businesses. Many of your potential customers rely on comments, questions answered, product review to make an informed purchase. New customers are always looking for feedback from existing customers.
Email Marketing – Hopefully by now you have an email marketing database that can begin generating revenue for your new company. Ongoing email marketing is one of the most important sales generating in e-commerce today. Every day you should do something to grow your email database. You may consider a social media contest or giveaway to encourage people to sign up for your marketing emails. You can also use onsite email collection strategies like entry pop-up messaging or exit pop-up (exit intent) messaging to gain new customer emails. You should definitely add an email sign up field to your header or footer.
Email marketing serves to drive both sales and traffic to your website. In addition, you can use email marketing to lead people to your blog content or new service or product pages. Work hard to curate your email marketing database and you will start to see increased revenue and traffic for your efforts. Remember, email marketing is a long-term strategy. Keep working on it every day and it will continue to grow into one of your most powerful revenue generating tools.
Once you have executed the strategy laid out in Part One and Part Two of Digital Strategy From Scratch, you will be ready to really dig into analytics and make the necessary changes to continue your e-commerce growth strategy. We will discuss these data based improvements in Digital Strategy From Scratch: Part Three but until then, keep driving new traffic to your website every day!