When running an ecommerce business, email marketing is one of your most powerful tools to get products in front of shoppers and convince them to buy. Many sites have leveraged email to build brand reputation, engage with customers, and increase order volume. However, designing and writing emails that drive those kinds of results can be challenging. Follow these best practices to ensure that your emails are more effective.
The subject line is your first (and sometimes last) chance to grab the attention of a customer or lead. If the subject line of your email isn’t compelling, your email will get deleted without ever being opened. Make your subject lines concise (which will also keep them from appearing in the inbox as truncated), intriguing, and to-the-point.
Images are a great way to enhance the visual appeal of your email, but they should not be the only way your message and/or call to action is conveyed. Additionally, most email services have images from incoming messages disabled by default. If your email only makes sense when the images are visible, then you’re not reaching all of your readers.
Your email message shouldn’t look like a wall of text. Break up written information with sub-headers, images, video links, calls-to-action, etc. to make emails more accessible to your busy readers. You should also make sure that you're emails are optimized for mobile by adjusting the dimensions for mobile displays, decreasing the file sizes for faster loading on mobile networks, and limiting the amount of text.
Ecommerce sites that host user generated content (UGC) such as product reviews and photos taken by customers are relatively common. Unfortunately, the inherent value of that content is often overlooked by e-tailers. With the ubiquity of product discounts and shipping promos, UGC can be a great competitive differentiator. According to a consumer survey from TurnTo, 81% of US consumers say they would pay more for, and wait longer to receive, products that had UGC. Rather than “setting and forgetting” the UGC features of your ecommerce site, use the following tips to leverage this valuable content to your benefit.
Establish a baseline
Step back a take a broad view of how UGC is currently incorporated into your ecommerce site. What types of UGC do you support? Of those, which do customers interact with the most? Answering these questions will help you make informed decisions on adding new types of UGC, which types you want to promote to customers, and how effective UGC is for certain products.
Expand UGC touchpoints
UGC is only effective when customers are interacting with it, so look for opportunities to make UGC more prominent on your site and in your marketing materials. Some ideas include:
- HTML coding that allow ratings and review snippets from your site to appear in search results
- Including ratings and review information in the shopping cart and throughout the checkout process
- Using review commentary and customer photos in social media and retargeting ads
A robust foundation of UGC provides both you and your customers with more accurate information. For example, the 4-star average rating on a product page with 500 reviews is more credible than a 5-star average on product page with only 2 reviews. Use techniques to get more UGC submissions for your ecommerce site.
Growing your ecommerce business requires putting resources into both customer acquisition and customer retention. However, it's all too common to see companies that put too many of their eggs in the "acquisition" basket. According to consultants at Invesp, 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition vs. 18% that focus on retention. Unfortunately, that spread belies the great benefits that retention efforts can provide. Consider the following:
Without a doubt, acquisition is important for the short-term growth of your business and for increasing the number of customers to eventually direct retention efforts toward. As the New Year approaches, now may be the perfect time to evaluate whether your company is striking the right balance.
User generated content (UGC) such as product reviews, questions & answers, photos, videos, and more provide a number of benefits to ecommerce sites. They improve your site's online shopping experience, build trust with new customers, improve brand reception, and serve as a resource for creating promotional and marketing materials. But, just because you build space for UGC into your site doesn't mean shoppers will come and start providing content. Use these tips to encourage your customers to submit more UGC, more frequently.
There are several ways you can reward customers for contributing UGC. Let contributors know that their content is appreciated and makes a difference by notifying them when other shoppers find their photos, reviews or answers helpful. If your site has a customer portal, you can borrow some ideas from gamification and award users with badges or redeemable points for actively contributing UGC.
Provide tools to make creation and submission easy
Users are more likely to provide UGC if you can make the experience as frictionless as possible. Some ideas include using review submission forms with writing prompts or icons for mobile that launch a camera app for quickly sending product photos or video.
Highlight privacy and security features
Give contributors a way to preview how UGC submissions will appear onsite (including how account info will display to other users) before they go live. If you are hosting a platform for shoppers to communicate with one another (e.g. a user forum or Q&A product page section), make sure it is moderated well to prevent offensive content.
Ask for UGC
Redesign the visibility of UGC throughout your site and use clear calls to action for shoppers to participate. Offsite, send follow up emails to customers after they receive an order and ask if they can write a review or answer other customers' questions. You may need to adjust the timing of this follow up to ensure customers have had enough time to properly evaluate the product.
Your call center is a critical part of the overall customer experience you provide. If you opt to outsource your call center management, you need to consider the provider’s capabilities before partnering with them – and average call duration is one of the most important metrics to consider. Generally, shorter is better. Reducing the amount of time your customers stay on the phone for customer service inquiries is a win-win. Your call center will be able to handle higher volumes, while customers save time and have a better experience. For optimal call duration, your call center or call center provider should do the following:
- Expand the decision-making authority of agents. Putting customers on hold to track down a supervisor to make a simple decision eats up time. Since most of these decisions involve free products or discounts, one solution is to give agents a small budget of "make-good" cash to apply toward these scenarios.
- Create a robust and up-to-date knowledge base on your ecommerce site that both customers and call center agents can easily access.
- Train agents thoroughly. Before agents start answering customer calls, they should receive a detailed overview of your company’s systems, policies, and products to enable them to quickly handle a wide variety of customer inquiries.
- When evaluating call quality metrics, make sure that the ability to manage hold time during calls is accounted for.
- Foster cooperation between departments. Sometimes, customer service agents don't have all the answers and need to put customers on hold while they reach out to the appropriate department. Take steps to ensure that agents have available and reliable contacts where necessary.