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The buyer’s decision journey has changed and no longer are customers looking to one brand to meet all of their needs. Instead, brands are having to create industry solutions for themselves, and then explain why those solutions fit a particular customer need. If done well, brands don’t need to explain much. The customer sees (and likely feels) the pain point at hand, and wants to purchase to solve for it.
With that in mind, what are the implications of this change for the average ecommerce site? Boiled down, it comes to this: lots of consumers are browsing, but they aren’t ready to buy just yet. Yes, you’ve tagged them for ad re-targeting to try and get them back to your site and complete that purchase, but what else can you do?
— Bigcommerce (@Bigcommerce) March 31, 2015
What else can you do when a visitor isn’t ready to buy?
Regardless of the customer’s buying cycle stage, ecommerce marketers can use inbound marketing to turn these visitors into leads by learning to cultivate a trusted relationship with them. This way, whenever they are finally ready to buy, your ecommerce site is the first one that comes to mind.
Don’t be one of those sites where the only three things a visitor can do is buy, subscribe, or “contact us.” Give your visitors lots of different ways to interact with you. Instead of discounts, trade them helpful information in exchange for their email. These opportunities are often called pre-transactional offers.
Once you’ve got their email, you can nurture them using more information offers via email and social media to keep your site and its products top of mind until they’re ready to buy. And, as they keep consuming your information, you can keep trading up for more information about them (that’s called “smart profiling”).
Why use pre-transactional offers and what do they look like?
Use these offers to keep your visitors engaged with you by providing cool content that builds your credibility and expertise in their eyes. The more they believe you know, the more accurate and useful your information is to them, and the more they begin to trust and believe in you. That increases the likelihood that they’ll buy from you.
To start, go beyond the usual newsletter or “sales alerts” sign-up form or pop-ups. While those methods can make initial contact, they don’t encourage your prospect to interact with your brand. Here are a couple of ways that you can really get traffic and conversions going.
1) Use social sharing buttons that are both easy to locate and easy to use
For example, Raven + Lily, a clothing company, has social sharing buttons on their individual product pages. The Pinterest button, in particular, makes it easy for visitors to save specific products that catch their eye, even if they aren’t purchasing immediately.
Raven + Lily also includes social follow buttons in the header of their site, to give visitors multiple ways to connect and follow their brand.
2) Provide provocative, relevant content the visitor finds fascinating
This can be absolutely anything from an ebook of recipes that use a particular spice or different ways to set an attractive dinner table.
Greens Plus, a nutritional food and supplement company, has an entire section of their website dedicated to recipes that are freely accessible. They complement the recipes with a guide to getting started with superfoods, which is behind a form.
The guide is relevant and helpful to visitors who might be interested in Greens Plus’ nutritional options but not sure where to start. This group of visitors might also be less likely to purchase on their first visit, so capturing their email address gives Greens Plus an opportunity to nurture them into a purchase.
3) Provide a means for customers and visitors to ask and answer questions
Macys.com makes it easy for people to both ask and answer questions that have piqued the interests of others. Beyond the Macy’s staff, other customers can also answer the questions. People rate the answers, so the most helpful answers float to the top. This provides a helpful and informative touchpoint to visitors and fosters a sense of community.
Start Lead Nurturing Campaigns Immediately
Once you have their email addresses and you’re tracking what pages they visit on your website, you’re able to learn about what they’re most interested in. Research shows that 85% of email opens happen within the first two days of receiving an email, but 32% of purchases take place two weeks later. Don’t waste time!
Create customized lists of people who are interested in a particular style or brand of products. Make them smart lists so that every time someone’s address is added, a workflow is triggered so they immediately start receiving a lead nurturing series specific to their interests.
For example, let’s say that visitors have responded to an offer about caring for a particular type of running shoe. These are shoes used by marathoners and other well-known track and field athletes. That dynamic list and workflow immediately send your leads interested in these running shoes a series of lead nurturing emails offering ebooks with training programs for lengthy running races, then another with diets and recipes that marathoners swear by, and yet another with live webinars with famous runners. And, along with those informational offers in your emails, you’re also including subtle calls-to-action about the particular shoe styles or brands they’ve been browsing.
In all, you’re providing a personalized experience that puts your brand top of mind for the consumer the next time they are looking for a product within that interest niche.
Test, Track, Analyze and Optimize
Test different information offers in email, as well as on your site. Test the calls-to-action (CTAs), the landing pages, the titles, the lead nurturing emails. Test it all.
Run multivariate tests to see which combination pulls the greatest response and optimize accordingly. If your marketing software integrates with your shopping cart, you can close the reporting loop and analyze the data to discover which information offers (campaigns) delivered the most sales. You can replicate the elements that work best and eliminate the ones that don’t.
Eventually, you can optimize your campaigns, premium content and CTAs to get the lowest cost per lead, the lowest cost per sale and the highest ROI. And, you’re able to keep on optimizing as new products, services and the competition enter the arena.
Don’t Sell — Education is Persuasion
No one wants to be sold to. But people are happy to be educated, and in that process become convinced of your sincerity, trustworthiness and credibility. Delivering accurate and consistent quality information, at the moment someone wants it, is the best persuasion. Using an all-in-one marketing platform gives you the tools to test, track, analyze and optimize the inbound marketing elements that deliver what customers want most (great products and services), and what you need most — the highest marketing ROI.
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