When it comes to e-commerce not much has changed over the years. Companies have mostly focused on SEO and advertising to attract clicks but when it comes to actually making sales conversion rates have remained abysmally low--typically somewhere around 3 percent. It's time for that to change, says Rebecca Ward, CEO of digital customer engagement platform Moxie, which has enabled more than 3 billion customer interactions for more than 600 leading brands including Dell, 3M and Epson. Here's Ward's advice for what it takes to keep customers on your site, buying your products or services as well as saying nice things about your brand on social media.
Provide chat within a customer's medium of choice.
In other words, don't just offer a 1-800 number they can call if they're having trouble on your site, or rely on a help section to answer their questions. Just like there are salespeople available in a brick-and-mortar store, your website should have chat available--both reactive and proactive kinds, meaning someone responds right away if they reach out, but also pings them if it appears they might benefit by communicating with someone at your company. This works within an email campaign, as well. Instead of a customer having to leave an email they're reading, put a chat box right within the message so they don't have to go anywhere else for help.
Make it easier for customers to make a decision.
One way to do this is through knowledge base software that presents relevant information to web site visitors to help them accomplish what they are trying to do on the PC or mobile device. "Finding the right information at the right moment can be a challenge for both your customers and your employees," Ward says. "Knowledge helps you accomplish both, so you can increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction scores, and reduce your operational costs."
Consider offering video chat or co-browsing through which you can visually guide customers.
These tools can help lower customer frustration, help them better engage with your company and increase retention rates, especially if whatever you're offering is complicated.
Use social media as a sales channel.
Because customers today are highly social it helps to use some kind of social media listening tool that helps you monitor chatter and track threads so you don't miss an opportunity to engage with someone where they happen to be spending their time.
Define your engagement strategy.
"You should understand how do you engage and lead your customers through the journey with you. And think about more than just conversion, think about the customer value," Ward says. "They have value because they can say positive things about you on social media and you can retain and cross sell and upsell them. It's much more expensive to get a new customer than to retain one."
Optimize your e-commerce offering for mobile.
Whether it's a phone, tablet or wearable device, people are buying things and interacting with brands while they're on the go--walking to the car, waiting in line or boarding a plane. "[It] means they can transact with you more often so that's really good but you have to make it very easy for them to do it," she says. "I think the first phase of commerce was all about advertising and getting people there. The next phase is getting them through the door and making sure they get what they need effectively and efficiently and supporting them on any device wherever they are."