You may be familiar with the saying, ‘you can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink.’ Put into context: you could have the best looking ecom store and a great product or service to offer, but if your customers aren’t engaged on your website, your sales will suffer.
Think of when someone lands on your website. Customers can easily become frustrated with a poor user experience on the front-end, which causes them to leave without making a purchase. Similarly, your repeat purchase and retention rates can suffer if your back-end operations from fulfilment to inventory management didn’t meet expectations.
So, what can you do? Here are seven ways (with real business examples) you can drive website engagement from the moment a customer lands on your website through to encouraging loyalty and retention post-purchase.
Focus on mobile-first
Mobile traffic caught up to desktop quite a few years ago. This trend has emphasised the need for online businesses to ensure their customers can transact just as easily on mobile as they can on desktop.
Checking if your website is mobile friendly is easy. We suggest using two ways (one for back-up).
- Manually drag & resize the screen on desktop
Bring up your website in a browser on desktop. With your mouse, grab the right side of your browser window and drag it all the way to the left until you can’t shrink your browser anymore.
As you can see in the example of Aesop’s website below, the content has neatly reorganised itself to fit within the mobile view and no information or CTAs have been left out.
Self-explanatory, but a great tool nonetheless to check on your site’s mobile-friendliness.
Don’t let them leave, with exit intent pop-ups
Add an exit intent pop-up to lure customers who were on the verge of leaving. It doesn’t always have to be a discount either. Consider offering something else of value to your potential customer. This might be an eBook, video or an invite to sign up to your newsletter.
Combining the offers (discount and newsletter sign-up) can also be a smart way to build your subscribers for nurturing later, while encouraging a first sale at the same time.
For example, Costume Box offers a $15 off first order in an exit pop-up, combined with building their newsletter subscribers list.
Due to its almost ‘historic’ nature, email can often be overlooked. But when you put the time into integrating it properly with your sales and marketing efforts, it can be an incredibly powerful engagement tool for your business.
Email automation allows you to send targeted and well-timed messages at various stages of the customer’s purchase journey.
There are a number of ways you can approach these email flows but some commons reasons to send automated emails would be for:
- A welcome series: when you get a new subscriber
- Purchase follow-up: transactional emails such as an email receipt allowing you to nurture your relationship with a customer after a sale
- Re-engagement prompts: when they’ve bought from you once but didn’t re-purchase
- Upsell offers: to make more money from customers you’ve already acquired
- Content marketing: to deliver content that will entertain or inform
- Product and promotion updates: to encourage purchase
Adopt AI technologies
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most exciting areas for SMBs to put into practice with their customer experience. It can be used to improve customer retention, identify sales opportunities, optimise customer service and increase operational efficiency.
A common area of stress for SMBs is keeping up with online customer enquiries. And unfortunately, if you can’t answer a question quick enough, they’re likely to go find the answer elsewhere (your competitor).
Chatbots powered by AI can be a beneficial move for businesses looking to free up some resources to deal with customer enquiries, and leaving some of the more complex areas to your team.
Case in point. FastCover offers insurance, which is a product that lends itself to a lot of questions. They offer two ways to access information: instant answers and chat.
Keep all operations integrated
To keep your commerce engine running smoothly, your front-end and back-end operations need to be working together. Ensuring they do will make sure your website delivers a top notch user experience, from purchase to fulfilment.
This requires exceptional inventory management and finding ways to be as transparent as possible about shipping rates, ensuring dispatch and distribution are managed efficiently and the customer is able to track their order before it reaches them. Integrations such as StarshipIt simplifies the process of delivering online (and offline) orders and ensures the customer is informed appropriately throughout the entire process.
Offer a reliable checkout experience
There’s nothing worse than being convinced you want to buy something and then for some reason, the payment isn’t going through, the system is clunky or you aren’t convinced it’s secure enough to enter your details.
This can all be alleviated if you have the right payments solution in place. Having a reliable and secure payment gateway is essential for online businesses. Without it, your website engagement and thus, conversion rates can suffer because your customers don’t trust it and your business could become a target for hackers and scammers which eventually affects your bottom line.
Zip is a great example of an Australian business that took their business online and wanted to grow their operations internationally. This was going to be hard to do without a secure payment gateway. They used a Site Seal to provide a dynamic, customisable logo which reassures their customers and maximised conversion rates.
Send cart abandoned emails
When a customer has come so close to buying a product, but for some reason, decided to leave the cart high and dry. This could be for a number of reasons: they got distracted, they weren’t convinced, they found something else or they got frustrated with your check-out experience.
One of the best ways to give that customer a nudge to purchase is by sending them an email that reminds them they left their cart. Marketing automation platforms will help you send personalised emails to any shoppers who abandoned their carts.
But just letting them know they ‘forgot their cart’ might not get you the sale. Consider including more information about the product, a discount or social proof (testimonials) that will get them back on your side.
Customer engagement is the lifeblood for any ecommerce businesses, and there are numerous ways you can achieve this. Start by reviewing every aspect of your customer buying journey, taking notes along the way, you should be able to spot the areas that need the most immediate attention.
There’s something else you should know…