Francesca Nicasio is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B content for companies in the retail, technology and SMB space.
You can’t have a retail business without a good product to sell, which is why companies invest enormous resources into a thoughtful product development strategy.
The most successful retailers understand the importance of developing new products and improving their existing merchandise. Continuously finding ways to innovate will keep your business competitive.
Not sure where to start?
This post will walk you through the seven stages of an ecommerce product development strategy. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid idea of how winning products make it to the market—and how you can create more of them.
1. Smarter Product Ideation
Every great product starts with an idea. It happens when you and your team get that light bulb moment and come up with a concept that would change the world—or at least, add value to other people’s lives.
There are multiple ways to navigate the ideation process, but one of the most popular and effective methods is to start with by gathering customer feedback from your existing shoppers. Conduct surveys and analyze your product reviews to identify pain points and opportunities to improve.
Let’s say you discovered that a significant chunk of your customers are asking if an item comes in another color or size. You now have valuable feedback that you can use when developing your next product line.
Pro tip: Want to make this process easier? Instead of manually combing through your reviews, use a review analytics solution like Product Pulse, which uses natural language processing and sentiment analysis to uncover trends and insights that you can use in your product development strategy. Powered by our Intelligence Engine, the solution has processed over 40 million product reviews, 2 million unique topics and 5 million unique opinions.
In addition to analyzing reviews, you should also consider the SCAMPER technique when cooking up product ideas. SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate and Reverse/Rearrange.
It’s a way of thinking that prompts you to ask questions about how you can innovate and improve an existing product.
Substitute – Think about a product and ask yourself if you can substitute any of its materials or parts. For instance, if you’re selling brownies and want to make them healthier, you could use other ingredients to replace things like sugar or butter.
Combine – Find two or more things that your customers love and combine them. A great example of this can be found in the Doritos Locos Taco, Taco Bell’s most popular menu item, which combined the restaurant’s famous tacos with Doritos.
Adapt – You could enhance a product so it adapts to modern changes. For instance, when more people started using their camera phones to take selfies, smartphone companies adapted to consumer behavior by developing front-facing cameras.
Modify – The “M” can also stand for “Minify” or “Magnify.” It prompts you to think of ways to modify an existing product by highlighting or reducing specific features. A fashion designer could modify existing work by making dress buttons larger or by shortening overall length.
Put to another use – Can you use the product (or the technology behind it) for another purpose? An increasing number of retailers, for instance, are upcycling old clothes and materials to create new ones.
Eliminate – How can you simplify the product? Are there features that you can eliminate? We can see this in action in the latest Apple products, which contain fewer ports. Take the latest Macbook Air, which no longer has USB ports.
Reverse/Rearrange – Can you interchange or reverse the components of a product? For instance, a shoe designer can move the brand’s logo around to see if it would make a bigger impact on the design.
2. Determining Product Demand
Already have a product idea that you love? Great. The next phase is to determine if there is a demand for it. The last thing you want is to go into full-on production mode only to realize that people don’t want it.
So, take some time to assess just how much your market wants or needs your product. You can do this by:
Conducting Customer Surveys
One of the easiest ways to determine whether or not people like your idea is to ask them. Conduct a survey or speak directly to your most engaged customers to run the idea by them. Ask them what they think, why they like or dislike the concept and how much they would be willing to pay for the item.
The answers to these questions will tell you if your idea is a winner or a dud.
You can take things a step further and see if you can get people to place pre-orders for the product. Set up a product page for your concept—complete with a product description, photos and a CTA to buy.
If you get enough pre-orders you can take that as a sign to move forward with production.
Start A Crowdfunding Campaign
Another route is to crowdfund your idea. Use a platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to set up a campaign explaining your idea and mapping out your plan. If you get enough people to back your campaign, you might just have a winner on your hands.
Analyze Search Trends
Use tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to find out if people searching for the type of product you want to develop or if they’re looking for a solution that your idea can solve.
3. Creating a Prototype
The next step is prototyping.
Prototypes are essential in any product development strategy because they enable you to test the design and functionality of your concept. After all, an idea may seem possible in theory, but you won’t find out for sure until you have a physical representation of the product.
The specifics of this stage will vary from one product to the next, but here’s what’s typically involved in the prototyping process:
Sketching the Idea
It’s one thing to have an idea in your head, but bringing it to reality requires solidifying the concept on paper. Create a sketch of your idea so you and your team can better visualize what the prototype would look like. The sketch should communicate general details like the major components of the item and what the product will be used for.
Creating a Digital Prototype
Once you’ve nailed the sketch, you can proceed to create a digital prototype. This would be a 3-D rendering of the product that allows you to view it from multiple angles. Having a digital prototype will enable you to see the item in more detail, so you can refine it before creating the physical version.
Building a Physical Prototype
When you’re happy with the digital version of your product, you can move forward with your physical prototype. Get help from an engineer or prototype designer to create one that you can touch, feel and evaluate.
Note that you can build multiple prototypes for each of your ideas. It’s actually recommended that you do this, as it enables you to compare and test different variations to see what works best.
Take Spanx, as an example. When the brand developed the strap for its Bra-llelujah! Bra, Spanx tested hundreds of prototypes and construction trials to determine the best one.
Iterate. Iterate. Iterate. ⭐ When was the last time you tested something dozens of times to make sure it works? For us,…
They had these plastic forms in their mill, and they would put the product up on the plastic form and they’d all stand back with their clipboards and go, “Yep, that’s a medium.” I remember I leaned in, I’m like, “Ask her how she feels.”
Sara took a different approach. Rather than testing her prototypes on lifeless forms, she asked actual women to try her product.
“So, with Spanx, I started testing my prototypes on real women, my mom, my grandmother, all my friends,” she added in the video. “And to this day, all of the Spanx products are obviously tested and worn by me and all of my friends and family and I really appreciate that honest feedback, it’s what makes us better than what had existed out there.”
Follow Blakely’s playbook when testing your prototypes. Find real consumers to test them out and strive to get their honest feedback on how to improve.
5. Don’t Forget Your Product Creation
Once you’ve perfected your prototype, you can move on to production. Again, the specifics of this phase will depend on the product—the materials, complexity, etc. But generally speaking, one of the most important parts of the product creation process is selecting your manufacturer.
There are several websites and directories that you can use to find the right one. Here are a few that you can start with:
You can also check out trade publications and directories in your industry to find potential manufacturers.
Use the above resources to search and identify companies that can bring your product to life. Once you have a list of manufacturers, contact them to discuss:
Minimum order sizes
Their facilities and production environment
What happens in the event of delays and special circumstances
Also, consider asking for examples of similar products that they’ve manufactured. References from companies in your space are also beneficial.
6. Launching the Product on the Right Foot
The key to a good product launch is to do it explosively. When your product goes live, you want to make a strong and memorable impression on your target market, so they’ll be compelled to check out it out.
Accomplishing this requires a well-coordinated marketing push. You should ensure that all your marketing initiatives (e.g., email marketing, Facebook ads, paid search ads, influencers, etc.) are in sync. Doing so maximizes the impact and visibility of your product.
Certain book authors are particularly good at this. Consider Marie Forleo, when she launched her book, Everything Is Figureoutable, Forleo had a well-timed and well-coordinated marketing campaign that covered multiple channels.
She drummed excitement on social media, leveraged email marketing, kicked off a live event and went on the TODAY Show to talk about her book.
Forleo made a huge splash on the day of her launch, which led to multiple online reviews, numerous mentions on social media and sold out book tour events in multiple cities.
Strive to market your new products in the same way. Create an explosive launch by leveraging various marketing tools and maximizing your impact on multiple channels.
7. Gathering Feedback (Hint: Look to Your Product Reviews)
Your product development strategy doesn’t end with a launch. You need to close the loop by gathering feedback from your customers. You can do this by:
Analyzing Product Ratings & Reviews
The product reviews section of your site is your most valuable source of feedback. Pay close attention to what people are saying about the item, the star rating that they’re giving the product and any common trends or themes that come up.
The insights that you gather at this stage will be incredibly useful when you decide to create a new product or improve an existing one.
For best results, automate this process using a tool like Product Pulse, which analyzes product review data for you and delivers actionable insights that you can put to good use.
Engaging in Social Listening
If you have an active social media presence, then sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be valuable sources of feedback. Look at what people are saying on these sites and take note of the photos that they’re posting. Social media content offer insights into how people are using the product and how it fits into their lives.
Listening to Your Customers Is a Must in Any Product Development Strategy
Product development magic can’t happen in a vacuum. Amazing ideas aren’t born in the boardroom. You get them by listening to your customers and making sure that they’re involved in every step of the development process.
It’s 2019 and surprisingly, one of the hottest customer communication methods is a technology that’s existed since 1992–text messaging. Brands have increasingly found value in SMS marketing due to the fact it earns higher open rates, engagement and click-through rates.
Do we have your attention?
This isn’t the first time SMS marketing strategies have gained popularity. Like we mentioned, text capabilities have been around for decades and a lot of companies found success with SMS marketing campaigns in the early 2000s.
But technology, cost and the simplicity of SMS has made a strong comeback for marketers, especially in an age where the average U.S. consumer checks their phone 52 times a day. In this post, we’ll shed light on the ins and outs of SMS marketing in today’s digital environment and how brands effectively use text messages to increase customer engagement.
Let’s get started.
What Is SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing (short message service) is a type of customer communication method that requires permission from a business to communicate with a customer via text message to promote, sell, update or confirm specific messages. This technique needs the customer to opt-in, much like an email marketing subscription, so brands and retailers have the ability to send product updates, discounts and important information directly to the consumers’ device.
And for SMS marketing in 2019, this typically means a smartphone. In fact, Pew Research found 81% of U.S. adults now own a smartphone, while 96% at least own a cell phone. So it’s probably safe to say, if you’re struggling to connect with your customers, SMS gives you the chance to communicate through a device nearly every consumer owns.
Before diving into SMS marketing tips and tricks, it’s worth taking a look at why text messaging works and how it performs compared to other channels:
SMS Gets More Engagement
Customer engagement is a tough cookie to crack these days. Between short attention spans and the growing number of distractions all around, it’s difficult to get your messages in front of your target audience.
SMS, when used correctly, cuts through the noise and capture people’s attention in ways that traditional channels (e.g., email, PPC) can’t. According to Gartner, SMS open rates run as high as 98% compared to email’s 20% mark. What’s more is the data cited by Digital Marketing Magazine indicating 75% of consumers actually prefer to receive promotions via text message.
These numbers tell us that consumers are a lot more receptive toward messages they receive via text.
SMS Is Widely Used
Smartphone users love SMS messaging. The same study from Pew Research also found 97% of smartphone owners send text messages–making SMS the most used feature on smartphones. Not only is it the most popular feature, but survey respondents said it’s the most-frequently used feature with the majority stating they’ve sent or received a text in the last hour.
SMS is clearly an invaluable communication method for consumers, so it makes sense to use (or at least test) it in your marketing efforts.
SMS Messaging Promotes Immediate Communication
Text messaging also paves the way for faster communication and even back-and-forth conversations with your customers. That same Gartner research cited earlier discovered SMS had a response rate of 45%, compared to email, which had a 6% response rate. Additionally, data from the GSM Association shows that on average, it takes 90 seconds for users to respond to text messages.
You Can Efficiently Track Results
With the right platform, you can measure the performance of your SMS campaigns and improve your results. Most SMS marketing solutions have reporting analytics features, which allow you to track open rates, CTRs, offer and redemption.
You don’t have to go into SMS marketing blind. As long as you choose the right messaging platform, you can closely track how your initiatives are doing and measure the ROI.
Mobile Messaging Is Poised for (Even More) Growth
Mobile messaging has gained a lot of steam, and marketers are taking notice. According to Salesforce’s 2018 State of Marketing Report, 53% are currently using mobile messaging to market to prospects or customers and 31% are planning to use mobile messaging within the next 12 months.
Marketers are evidently going to be using mobile messaging (which includes text) even more. And while this helps validate the value of SMS marketing, it also means that the landscape is going to be more crowded.
As such, if you’re looking to jump into text messaging as a marketing tool, you’ll want to do it sooner rather than later. This is why PowerReviews is striving to help businesses with their SMS marketing strategy by providing a simple tool to engage your shoppers post-purchase to generate more ratings and reviews.
By asking your customers for feedback via SMS, brands have seen up to 4 times higher review collection rate. Our goal is to help businesses collect the most content possible to help you drive more sales, all while making it easier for the consumer to interact.
Want to see our SMS review collection feature in action? Contact our team today and learn how to get more authentic reviews!
SMS Marketing Examples & Tips: How to Get It Right
Now that you know the value of text messaging and the impact it has on customer engagement, it’s time to look at how you can make SMS work for you. Here are a handful of SMS marketing examples and tips to inspire your efforts:
Run Timely SMS Marketing Campaigns
Text messages may get a ton of engagement, but that doesn’t mean you can send customers whenever you want. Timing makes or breaks your campaigns, so make sure shoppers receive your messages at the most optimal times.
In addition to sending at the right time of the day, consider the time of the year your subscribers are reading your messages and when you’re running your campaigns. Mark special holidays on your calendar and launch SMS marketing campaigns that align with these events.
Check out this message from Kape Republik. The business obviously pays attention to yearly holidays and makes it a point to engage its customers through text. On Mother’s Day, Kape Republik sent moms a special BOGO (buy one get one) offer.
Additionally, the company got in touch once more on Memorial Day with a 10% coupon. The company’s timing is effective because it’s not over the top and the the discount makes it worth it for customers to continue receiving messages.
Take a leaf out of Kape Republik’s playbook and run seasonal and holiday SMS campaigns to boost your engagement.
Make Them Visual
Don’t let the term “text” stop you from sending visually stimulating messages via SMS. Aside from giving your messages more personality, visual elements help you stand out and be more memorable. A study on the effects of emoticons found that the presence of emojis in messages can boost the cognition and memory scores of recipients.
An excellent example of a brand putting emojis to good use is Sumo. In the appointment reminder below, the Sumo team included a couple of relevant emojis to spruce up the text.
But why stop at emojis?
If you’re sending a sweet offer and really want to get people’s attention, consider throwing images into the mix. The jewelry retailer AUrate does this with their SMS strategy.
To promote its gold jewelry, AUrate sent a photo of someone wearing the brand’s shiny pieces to give its consumers a visual example of the product–directly to their device.
Adding a bit of visual flair to your messages doesn’t take a lot of effort. Strive to include images and emojis in your texts whenever it’s appropriate to do so. Your audience will remember you for it!
Instill a Sense of Urgency
Because people tend to open text messages immediately, SMS is an ideal platform for sending time-sensitive messages. If you have an offer that’s expiring soon or want people to respond quickly, SMS is your best communication channel.
The haircare brand Function of Beauty clearly understands this. The website recently ran a 20% off promotion, and 3 hours before it ended, Function of Beauty sent its subscribers a heads up via text. This helped urge shoppers to take advantage of the offer while it lasted.
Make Taking Action Quick & Easy
Remember that users reading messages on their smartphones don’t have time to type up long responses or jump through several hoops. So, if you require recipients to take action—such as visiting your website—you should make the process as easy as possible.
We already saw this in action in the messages above. Both AUrate and Function of Beauty made it easy to get to their promotions by sending a clickable link via text. In some cases, the action you want people to take is to confirm an appointment or opt-in. In such situations, make sure the task takes as little effort as possible.
When someone makes a service appointment at Sephora and can’t make it, they simply need to reply with “1” and the retailer will cancel their appointment.
Go Beyond Self-Promotion
SMS is obviously a great channel for sending promotional messages. But you’d do your audience and your brand a favor by using text messaging to actually help your customers–not just spam them.
In other words, rather than leveraging SMS solely to promote your business, you should also use the medium to provide a service or send information that your audience would truly find useful. In doing so, your recipients value your messages more and are encouraged to keep opening and reading your texts.
Macrobox Meals, for example, sends delivery notifications via text when people’s meals have been delivered. Macrobox knows that its customers would want to be notified when their food reaches their doorstep, so the company makes it a point to give them a heads up.
Strive to do something similar to your efforts. Ask yourself: How can you use text to add value to the customer experience? What types of non-promotional messages would people want to receive from you? The answers to these questions will help you craft a better SMS strategy.
Ask for Feedback
As we mentioned earlier, SMS is an effective tool for gathering customer feedback. Since people are more likely to read and respond to text messages, you have a greater chance of collecting responses. And for brands wanting to improve their ratings and reviews collection, PowerReviews’ SMS Collection is a must.
You don’t want to make the process complicated. PowerReviews helps brands send quick message asking your customers to give feedback on a product so you increase the chances of getting more information about your products–and ultimately more reviews.
SMS also helps brands and retailers improve customer satisfaction by getting appropriate feedback on a specific experience. CVS Pharmacy sends its visitors a text asking them to fill out a short survey.
Use SMS Marketing to Re-Engage Inactive Customers
Do you have customers who haven’t visited your store or website in a while? Send them a quick text to get back on their radar.
Bakers & Baristas, a cafe in Cerritos, CA, does exactly that. Have a look at the store’s text below. In addition to a quick “we miss you” message, the cafe sent a promo to sweeten the deal. This helps compel customers to come back.
Use Branded Links
Branded links look at lot cleaner and trustworthy compared to generic ones, and they promote trust and credibility. In fact, data from Rebrandly found branded links see up to 39% more click-throughs compared to non-branded URLs. It’s worth it to use them in your messages as much as possible.
Check out these messages from Appsumo. For Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018, Appsumo used branded links in its text messages to direct people to its website.
Is SMS Marketing Part of Your Customer Engagement Toolkit Yet?
SMS clearly offers a lot of value in the customer engagement department. Use text messaging to drive sales, gather feedback, provide services and communicate with your audience.
This technique has the potential to outperform traditional channels in open, click-through and response rates. So see how SMS could fit into your customer engagement strategy and start looking for right messaging platform.
Once you’ve collected enough data, use those insights to get to know your audience better, and then refine your efforts.
Good luck and happy texting!
If you’re a retailer, then we’re sure you’re aware of—perhaps even worried about—the competitiveness of ecommerce and in-store shopping. Between rising consumer expectations, price wars and direct-to-consumer brands, grabbing shoppers’ attention–and more importantly, their business–is a challenge without the right customer care ideas.
When shoppers feel heard and valued by a company, they’re more likely to keep supporting their products and services. Conversely, failing to adequately care for them leads to customers jumping ship.
Research from NewVoiceMedia found that feeling unappreciated is the top reason why consumers switch brands. Clearly, showing customers how much you value them isn’t just a nice or decent thing to do–it’s a profitable business practice.
To help you implement a winning strategy, we’ve put together eight customer care ideas to surprise and delight your shoppers:
1. Create Customer Care Ideas for All Channels
A key component of any successful customer care strategy is being there for shoppers on multiple channels and devices. People have different preferences when it comes to where and how to communicate with brands.
Some opt for picking up the phone, while others would rather send an email or instant message on social media. Make sure you cover your bases. But also be aware of the different channels that your buyers like using and establish a customer care presence on all the important channels.
One brand that’s doing this well is Target. The retailer has an organized help center to quickly route shoppers to the right department.
In addition to that, Target is also active on all major social networks. Its team takes the time to respond to individual customer comments on Facebook.
But the retailer doesn’t stop there. Target’s customer care spreads across other social networks too. They’re happy to answer questions and provide thorough feedback on channels like Instagram.
They even use their own Target Twitter account dedicated to customer care to respond to mentions. Target even goes as fr to provide support in the user’s own language.
That’s just one area the major retailer uses customer care to build better relationships.
2. Personalize Your Customer Interactions
The idea of personalization marketing isn’t new. We know you’ve likely read “personalization tips” countless times before, but hear us out.
Personalization—at least in the context of customer care ideas—isn’t just putting someone’s name in an email or making tailored recommendations.
Instead, personalization is about connecting with customers on a personal level and making each shopper feel like you know them and understand what they love. The idea is to make shoppers feel unique and significant.
Consumers are bombarded with so-called personalized messages every day. If you search for your name in your email, we’d bet you’d find several marketing messages from brands calling you out by name.
See what we mean?
Today, personalization requires more than customized subject lines. Get in tune with the relationship that each shopper has with your brand and deliver your messages in a way that stands out.
One effective tactic is to send out handwritten cards. These notes feel a lot more personal because your customers know that an actual person wrote them.
Here’s an example of a personalized note from Chanel, which was written by Courtney, an associate who helped lead they way through the customer journey. Courtney not only said “thank you for your purchase”, but she also referenced specific details from the visit, making the gesture feel even more personal.
Another brand that successfully pulls this off is Hockerty, an online menswear retailer. Hockerty Marketing Communications Specialist Salva Jovells explained that last Christmas, the company ran a customer care campaign for its top shoppers that involved handwritten notes.
A post shared by Nicholas (@quintessentialgent_) on
“We decided that our top 300 customers, in terms of lifetime value, deserved a better Christmas postcard,” said Jovells. “So we decided to handwrite a personal card in their own language and even [checked] their latest purchases so we could personalize it even more.”
The company added a promotional code for a free dress shirt to drive home their loyal customer appreciation. The pen to paper approach is a customer care idea you can easily pull off.
3. Be Proactive With Updates & Notifications
Most ecommerce stores are quite diligent—persistent, even —when they’re trying to win a sale. Brands send out marketing emails several times a week with the goal of getting customers to make a purchase.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this.
In fact, you should be sending messages regularly to stay top of mind and generate sales. Just remember to exhibit that same level of diligence when handling customer concerns.
The best way to show shoppers that you care is to communicate with them when they need you the most, and not just when you’re selling to them. This means staying on top of communications around purchases, fulfillment and customer service.
Be proactive with updating customers on the things they care about—such as their order or ticket status. Demonstrating initiative when communicating with shoppers (instead of waiting for them to ask for an update) shows you care about the post-purchase experience.
In turn, this builds trust and increases the likelihood of repeat purchases. Sephora also does this well by sending automatic updates when shoppers place an order or make a return.
Like most retailers, Sephora sends a notification email when an order has been shipped. But unlike most brands, it also sends a heads up when an order is arriving soon, and then it sends an additional email when the package has arrived.
It doesn’t stop there. If you decide to return an item, Sephora sends an email notifying you that your return package was received.
Don’t let shoppers guess on the status of their orders and returns and provide peace of mind.
4. Celebrate Your Customers
While most of your customer care ideas will likely take place behind the scenes (e.g., over the phone or via email), there are public things to do to show shoppers love. One way to do this is to put the spotlight on some of your best patrons on your website or on social media.
The apparel retailer Reformation, for instance, regularly features its customers in its Instagram Stories. This is one of the best benefits of Instagram because it specifically highlights your customers.
You can also implement this on a larger scale by running a customer appreciation campaign. Check out what Birchbox is doing.
Every year, the company celebrates its very own Customer Appreciation Day (CAD), and makes it a point to do something big for its customers.
Whether it’s running a giveaway or creating a video dedicated to its customers, Birchbox continuously finds ways to make its members feel valued.
5. Look Back at Your Time Together
Put your customer data to good use by compiling a customized roundup of the key milestones they’ve had with your brand. Many retailers, for example, are sending out “year in review” emails that allow customers to review their previous purchases or interactions with the company.
People appreciate the opportunity to look back at their past activities, so you’re bound to generate engagement with these campaigns. And who knows? You might even encourage people to make a purchase.
By the way, you don’t necessarily have to wait until the end of the year, to send “in review” messages. As an example, check out this “Rapid Rewards Report” from Southwest Airlines which was sent in mid-2018.
6. Be Flexible
While it’s important to have customer policies and guidelines, recognize that every shopper is different. You simple can’t fit everyone into a one-size-fits-all process.
Be flexible with your customer care ideas and empower your employees to use their judgment when interacting with shoppers and handling issues.
Nordstrom, a retailer famous for its stellar customer service, thrives among retailers who are finding challenges to connect in 2019. A big part of that can be attributed to its customer care policies.
Instead of enforcing rigid rules, Nordstrom empowers its employees to use their judgment when faced with customer concerns. Nordstrom also has flexible practices, particularly when it comes to the way it deals with returns and exchanges.
Of course, having ultra-flexible policies like Nordstrom’s may not be the right move for your business. But it’s worth re-evaluating your customer care procedures to see if you can introduce a bit of wiggle room.
Could you be a bit more lenient to your VIP customers? Is there anything more you could do to make shoppers feel special and cared for? The answers to these may shed light into how you can improve your customer care ideas.
7. Run Educational Initiatives
Another great way to show people that you care? Teach them something new.
Sephora holds free in-store classes on a variety of makeup and skin care topics. The classes are high-touch and students can have some one-on-one time with the instructors.
And while participants are invited to purchase the products they used in class, there’s absolutely no pressure to buy. If you’re an online-only retailer, you could still help your customers wise-up on new knowledge and skills through educational content.
Dollar Shave Club, for instance, regularly sends informative and educational content on personal hygiene and grooming.
8. Pay Extra Attention to Your VIPs
While you should certainly care for all your customers, it’s a good idea to extend additional perks to your regular shoppers and VIPs.
Cook up ways to make these patrons feel extra special. Doing so not only helps you cultivate stronger customer relationships, but it also encourages repeat visits and purchases.
Consider The Nordy Club, Nordstrom’s loyalty program. In addition to earning points that they can redeem for future purchases, members of the program also enjoy exclusive perks.
The company promotes incentives such as early access to sales, member-only events and free basic alterations.
Don’t Leave Out The In-Store Experience
Another way to pay attention to your best shoppers is to ask them for customer experience feedback for the in-store experience as well. How were they greeted? Was the product they were looking for in stock? Was the store clean and organized to easily find items?
These are just some of the questions you could get from mystery shoppers. But instead of paying exorbitant prices for this feedback, rely on preferred shoppers who frequently buy from you.
With the help of Journey IQ, retailers uncover valuable insights by sending shoppers on fun and engaging missions. And for their trouble, you provide participants with a discount on a future purchase and make the customer feel appreciated and special for their work.
Is Your Customer Care Strategy Competitive Enough?
True customer care isn’t just about providing customer service. It’s about delighting patrons at every touchpoint.
Whether it’s through social media content, loyalty marketing, or post-purchase follow-ups, you need to actively show your shoppers how much you value them.
Hopefully, this post gives you more than enough ideas on how you can do just that.
Understanding your customer stories and how they fit with your brand is often overlooked. But these experiences should mean everything to you if you truly want to drive a connection.
In the Game of Thrones series finale, Tyrion Lannister talked a great deal about stories. He said:
What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.
Now, not everyone may have loved how the HBO series ended, but most of us can agree with Tyrion. Stories are incredibly powerful, not just in the entertainment world, but also in the realm of business and branding.
Storytelling helps you achieve various business objectives, including increasing customer engagement, generating buzz and driving sales. This guide will explore the power of narratives in ecommerce and shed light on how you can use them to your advantage.
Step 1: Understand Your Customers & Their Shopping Journey
In the same way that you wouldn’t share a murder mystery with a toddler, you never want to tell stories that don’t fit for your target customers. That’s why the first step to effectively work with customer stories is to get to know your audience and their shopping journeys.
What's one way to enjoy the weekend without harming the environment? 🌲
Dr. Bronner’s knows their customers are likely eco-friendly consumers, so this question fits right in with their demographic. Gather insights into who your customers are and what they go through when they consider products or brands.
Creating Audience-Appropriate Stories
Let’s start with getting to know your audience. Being keenly of your customers’ demographic and psychographic profiles will allow you to determine the right themes, languages and people to use in your stories.
Here’s an excellent example from Nutrisystem. Because Nutrisystem appeals to customers from different backgrounds and ethnicities, the company has several case studies on its website, with each story representing a specific customer group.
Sharing Stories Based on the Buyer Journey
In addition to getting the content right, you also need to make sure your stories are in line with the different steps your customers’ shopping journeys. A typical customer buying process starts by identifying a problem, which is then proceeded by research for solutions. Here’s where customers get to know different brands and compare specific products.
When crafting content, think about where a particular piece would fit in your customers’ shopping process. A brand’s origin story, for example, is great for customers who want to learn more about the company’s mission and values.
The “About” section of SleepingBaby.com details an authentic account of how the site’s innovative baby swaddles came into existence.
Meanwhile, shopper success stories or content about how customers solved their problems using a product are ideal when a buyer has identified an issue they want to fix.
Nutrisystem, again, is doing this well. Its customer stories are results-oriented, and each case study details the issues that the user was having prior to using Nutrisystem, as well as the results they’ve achieved after.
Product reviews, on the other hand, work best for shoppers who are comparing different items. In many cases, these customers already know they want to make a purchase, but are trying to decide on the right brand or product type to get (e.g., large or small, classic or trendy).
Be sure to think about the different processes that your customers go through when making purchase decisions, and then craft stories for each stage of the buyer journey.
Step 2: Determine the Storyteller
Customer stories aren’t always coming from George R.R. Martin. That’s why you also need to figure out the right storytellers for your brand. Who will tell your customer stories?
Businesses generally have two options here: the company can tell the story itself or it can let its customers do it.
Option 1: Share the Stories Yourself
The main benefit of telling your own brand or customer stories is it lets you control the narrative. Plus, you present your messages in a way that’s harmonious with your other branding efforts. This creates a consistent experience for your customers as they move from one channel or touch point to the next.
We can see this in action in ModCloths’ #MarriedinModCloth series. To promote its wedding dresses, the retailer showcased the true love stories of its customers who got married wearing ModCloth merchandise.
The stories were shared on its website and social media. Because the content was created by ModCloth, the look and feel of the series was consistent to its own brand all throughout.
Option 2: Let Your Customers Share Stories for You
Being consistent and “on brand” is great, but too many branded or polished stories come off as inauthentic. You also need to balance out your initiatives by having stories that come directly from your customers.
In other words: leverage user-generated content. Luckily, UGC comes in various forms and each piece of content typically serves a specific purpose.
Consider the following forms of UGC to empower your customers’ voice to the fullest extent:
Content From Ratings & Reviews
One of the most common types of user-generated content is through ratings and reviews. This type customer content is particularly helpful for those who are in the deciding stage of their buyer journey.
Ratings and reviews help highlight specific product features, pros and cons and ultimately the entire customer experience, which is their own unique customer story. Make ratings and reviews a key component of your product pages and ensure that customers can easily find and browse the content.
Evo, a retailer that sells outdoor apparel and accessories, does just that. Ratings and reviews are key components of its product pages.
In addition to always having the star rating visible on the page, Evo also uses PowerReviews‘ Review Snapshot platform to summarizes a product’s key components by sifting through previous reviews.
Content From Social Media Posts
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So why not use visuals to help tell stories?
Collecting user-generated content from social media is what most people know about, but don’t fully understand how to effectively use. This isn’t to point fingers, but instead, to highlight the capabilities of collecting visual and social content through tools like PowerReviews.
Customers commonly tell their stories on social media, and the common practice for brands is Retweet, Regram or republish their content on your own social channels. One of the biggest believers in sharing UGC as stories on social is GoPro.
But how can you use visual UGC from social media to tell even better stories?
Move their social media content to your product pages.
Social Collection allows brands to gather user-generated content from their shoppers. Whether it’s from a branded hashtag or a tagging feature, our tools collect, authenticate and gain permissions to share customers’ social content of your products on your own product page.
Product pages with visuals tell a more robust story and provide your shoppers with authentic images and video to make a better purchasing decision. In fact, data from CrazyEgg showed the average piece of user-generated content is viewed 10 times more than branded content.
Try to connect your customer stories where they have the most impact.
Step 3: Craft the Story
We’ve talked about the types of stories to tell, now let’s discuss how you to craft them. There’s not a single “best way” to come up with your own brand story. And the right method for you will depend on the type of story you want to share.
But here are some general pointers to keep in mind when you’re crafting your brand story:
Tip 1: Select the Right Customers
When deciding on which customers to feature, set your sights on those who are already big fans of your brand. You can do this by:
Identifying High NPS Customers: If you conduct your NPS surveys, go through the scores of respondents and take note of your brand’s Promoters with an NPS score around 8 to 10. These customers are more likely to respond to your requests and be happy to share their experiences.
Turning to Social Media: Another option is to identify your biggest social media fans. These individuals want to be social influencers for your brand and can talk about you as well as any of your employees. Additionally, you can run product sampling campaigns to find these influencers who have awesome things to say about you.
Tip 2: Let Customers Narrate Their Experience in Their Own Way
The best way to interview your customers is to let them do most of the talking. Try not to ask overtly leading questions and let your interviewee share their thoughts in their own way.
If you want to get authentic customer feedback, try using a mystery shopping program to collect their experiences. With the help of tools like Journey IQ, brands and retailers turn mystery shopping into a fun way for customers to go on missions to collect intel on their experiences.
Journey IQ makes mystery shopping much more affordable by using shoppers who already buy from you on a regular basis. Then you incentivize these shoppers to write detailed feedback about their customer experience–all for an incentive like a discount on a purchase.
Typical mystery shoppers each cost hundreds of dollars to participate, but with Journey IQ, you rely on those who already regularly shop from you.
Step 4: Package Your Customer Stories Nicely
Once you have the information you need, the next step is to package all those details into a story worth sharing. Each case is different, but generally speaking, the best customer stories contain a healthy mix of the following:
A few words for your company
Direct quotes from your customers
Images and/or videos
For inspiration on how to do this, check out the lingerie retailer ThirdLove. The company regularly spotlights interesting customers through a blog series titled #ThirdLoveStories.
And while these posts mention ThirdLove’s products and features, most of the content is dedicated to telling the customer’s story — i.e., what inspires and drives them and how they’ve achieved success.
Looking to get more customers to tell their stories? Here are a couple of ways to encourage people to generate content for your brand.
Prompt People to Do It
The best way to get people to submit content is to prompt them. Send out review requests if you want shoppers to share their product feedback.
If you’re beefing up your social UGC, then make sure people know that you’d love to see their posts. Use a special hashtag or better yet, publish posts on social media encouraging your followers to share their posts.
The North Face, for example, uses the hashtag #NeverStopExploring.
Give Out Incentives
If your UGC strategy needs a boost, consider using incentives to entice your customers to create and share content. You could try gamifying the process by having prizes up for grabs when people review your products or share social media content.
Have a look at what the motivation app Shine is doing. The company is running a 30-day giveaway where they award daily prizes to users who share and tag Shine in their Instagram content.
Step 5: Put Your Stories Out There
Once you have your stories, move on to distributing the content in front of the right audience. Here are some ideas and examples of how to accomplish this:
Leverage Your Website
Your website is one of the best places to tell customer stories. As mentioned earlier, using your own assets gives you more control, which means you can pretty much dictate the look and feel of the content, as well as the publishing schedule.
Another benefit of housing customer stories on your website is having access to data. If you’re using software like Google Analytics, you can easily track page views, traffic sources and conversions. These metrics offer valuable insights into the stories that work and what could be improved.
Where do you put this content on your website? Try the following locations:
Homepage: Want to put your customers front and center? Display quotes or testimonials on your homepage to let visitors quickly see what people are saying about your brand. Athletic Green’s homepage features stories and quotes from select customers.
Site Navigation: Several brands use specific landing pages labeled “Stories,” “Testimonials” or “What Our Customers Have to Say.” The objective is to keep the content in one place to keep the experience easy to navigate and find. For example, Belly Bandit has a “Moms Who Made It” section dedicated to posts about its customers.
Leverage Social Media to Re-Share Customer Content
Already got people talking up your brand on social? Like we mentioned earlier, simply repost their content through your own account to give credit to awesome visuals, tell better stories and to build a more loyal community.
This is one of the easiest ways to spread stories on social networks because you can do it with just a few clicks. The sustainable makeup brand Thrive Causemetics regularly reposts content from its users.
If you already have input from loyal patrons, repurpose their testimonials for social media by creating images using their quotes. Need some examples to help you out? Check out Celsious, a hip and modern laundry mat in New York, that commonly uses Instagram to promote customer experiences in a more visual context.
Email is another excellent medium for sharing stories. Just like with your website, you have a lot more control over how the stories appear in your messages. And since subscribers have to opt-in, you’re speaking to a relatively warm audience.
So, find opportunities to share customer stories on social media. Try incorporating them into your nurture sequences and newsletters.
Athletic Greens, once again, does this really well. Nearly all of its emails mention a customer story or testimonial, which helps portray a better narrative for its brand.
Tap Into the Power of Customer Stories
Customer stories are incredibly compelling. And for most brands and retailers, this content should be a part of every marketing strategy.
If you haven’t tapped into the power of storytelling yet, it’s high time to do so! Need help doing that?
PowerReviews’ solutions for ratings, reviews and social content could take your initiatives to the next level. Request a demo to learn more!
A solid relationship is always a two-way street, which is why so many businesses struggle to get a high level of customer satisfaction.
Consumers will buy your products if you give them good reasons. But on one hand, you have to be honest, forthcoming and problem solvers. This lets your customer base know you care and are willing to do your part in the relationship.
Research from Indiana University found across multiple industries, companies tend to overestimate their own customer satisfaction levels. This disconnect in perceptions leads to less satisfied customers and ultimately, fewer shoppers coming back and a huge dent in your sales.
So, how do you prevent all that from happening? The first step is to determine where your customer satisfaction currently stands. Measure satisfaction levels in your business to identify areas that need work and then you creates ways to wow your customers.
First, let’s figure out what truly makes up customer satisfaction and how it works with your business:
What Is Customer Satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is a metric used to track and gauge the degree of gratification or comfort with a brand’s products and services. Simply put, it finds out how happy your customers are and do they trust your business enough to buy again.
It’s equally important to measure customer satisfaction to fully comprehend how it affects your business. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. If you want to make your customers happy, you need to know how satisfied they are right now. From that point, figure out how to take things to the next level.
Knowing your customer satisfaction numbers also provides valuable insights for research and development. That’s why so many businesses rely on a ratings and reviews platform to uncover opportunities to develop new or enhance products and services.
So how do you measure customer satisfaction? There are various ways that all depend on your industry, offerings and customers. But if you’re curious to learn more–we’ve got you.
Here are five secrets to success to improve customer satisfaction:
1. Let Customer Surveys Tell You Everything You Already Know
As one of the most straightforward ways to gather insights, a survey can give you quantitative and qualitative data about your customers. Likely, you already have some idea of what your customers think.
However, it’s smart to test your hypothesis on a regular basis to know exactly what your customers are thinking about your brand or product. The nature of your survey will depend on the metric or score that you’re trying to find.
For customer satisfaction, the most common scores businesses rely on are the Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES).
Let’s quickly break down each of these scores in detail:
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
The Net Promoter Score measures the likelihood of a customer recommending your company to others. Finding a user’s NPS starts with a simple survey question: How likely are you to recommend the company to a friend or colleague?
In fact, Omniconvert explained that users then answer the question with a scale from 1 to 10, which classifies your customer fulfillment according to their ratings. Those who give you a score of 9 or 10 are called Promoters, while a score of 7 or 8 get named Passives and 6 to 0 are Detractors.
To calculate your overall Net Promoter Score, subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. So, if 60% of your customers are Promoters and 5% are Detractors, then your NPS is 55.
Your Net Promoter Score by itself won’t tell you a whole lot because NPS benchmarks vary from one industry to the next. An NPS of 10 for example, might be great if you’re in the Cable and Satellite TV industry, but that same score is considered low if you’re a specialty retail store.
So, look into NPS benchmarks to figure out how you measure up compared to companies in your field. To give you a better idea, here are average NPS industry benchmarks from 2018, as provided by NICE-Satmetrix, the co-developer of Net Promoter:
Pro Tip: Ask Additional NPS Questions
While your NPS gives you insights into customer satisfaction (especially when compared with others in your industry), your score alone doesn’t provide any information around the specific areas of your business that need improvement. If you want to get even more value out your NPS, consider asking additional survey questions based on the user’s initial answer.
For example, if someone gives a score of 8 and below, then you can follow-up with asking what changes would have persuaded a higher rating. But for users rating 9 or 10, your follow-up question could ask what specifically they recommend or what do they think you did really well.
More often than not, you’re going to get honest customer feedback about your buyer journey. This could ultimately help you fix things like product returns, low ratings and abandoned carts.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
While NPS measures customer satisfaction at a more general level, the Customer Satisfaction Score measures satisfaction with a specific product, service or brand interaction. To that end, CSAT surveys are typically initiated after an event such as after a purchase or support team interaction. The key is to do it while the experience is still fresh in your customers’ minds.
This is why post purchase emails are essential to gathering valuable customer feedback. PowerReviews Review Collection solutions sends your customers emails asking about their experiences with the products they just purchased. This allows shoppers to give their recent and fresh feedback for every product they purchased.
As you likely know, getting customers to fill out reviews for multiple products is asking a lot and time consuming. Instead, PowerReviews collects all the recent purchases and makes it absolutely simple to enter reviews while staying on the same review page.
Customers are more likely to fill out multiple reviews when they see what’s needed to move on–unlike some review collections that continually jump to new pages and feel endless.
Measuring CSAT Success
Just like with NPS, your customers provide answers by choosing a score from a scale. You can use a 10-point scale (similar to NPS), though a 5-point scale also works for CSAT. Many companies ask customers to rate their satisfaction using a scale from “Very Unsatisfied” to “Very Satisfied”.
One example of a company doing this is Morton’s Steakhouse, which sends their guests a survey a few days after their visit.
Once you’ve gathered enough responses, take note of the scores your received and keep an eye out for trends or patterns. CSAT helps determine which products, experiences or support reps yield the highest satisfaction scores. This allows you to further identify trends in various customer segments.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
Customer Effort Score is a metric measuring satisfaction based on the amount of effort required to use a product or service. According to the Harvard Business Review, CES is the best predictor of whether or not a customer will continue doing business with a company.
You measure CES by asking questions about how much effort was needed to handle the request. Customers use a scale from 1 (Very Low Effort) to 5 (Very High Effort) to provide feedback. The same HBR article found 94% of customers reporting a “low effort” score were likelier to purchase again, while 88% admitted they’d spend more money to get that service.
However, 81% of respondents said if the process was “high effort,” they were likelier to tell friends and family of their negative experience, significantly harming any word-of-mouth marketing strategies in place. With that in mind, once you have enough completed CES surveys, you should have a better idea about:
Would continue buying from you
Would say negative things about your company
NPS vs. CSAT vs. CES
What’s the best metric for measuring customer satisfaction? That depends on your objectives as well as your overall views about customer satisfaction. If you’re looking for a more holistic view of how satisfied your customers are, then NPS would be the best option.
But if you want to gain insights about specific components of your business (e.g., a particular product or service) then CSAT would likely do the trick.
On the other hand, if ease of use is an important metric in your business or if you agree with HBR in that customer effort is a good predictor of future behavior, then consider implementing CES surveys. Each metric has its sets of pros and cons, so do your research, figure out what works best for your specific business and start measuring.
Tools for Conducting Customer Surveys
Whichever metric you choose, you can easily create and send your customers surveys. There are plenty of tools on the market to conduct surveys, and here are a few we recommend:
2. Use Social Media to Truly Listen to Interactions & Conversations About You
Sometimes the best feedback is things customers voluntarily provide. And this is where social media listening is incredibly helpful. Consumers constantly share both positive and negative opinions about brands on social media–it’s up to you to decipher what’s valuable.
In fact, the Sprout Social Q3 2017 Index found 46% of consumers have called out a brand on social media for unfair treatment, a poor experience or multiple reoccurring issues. These experiences are crucial to track whether they’re coming at your brand directly or in-directly.
Invest in a Social Media Listening Tool
Effectively social media listening requires more than manually reading comments and brand mentions. For it to be effective, you need tools that can not only track important mentions, but also provide information that you can quantify and take action on–even if they don’t specifically tag your brand.
Here are some tools that can do everything from monitoring brand mentions and analyzing sentiment to tracking your competitors and generating social media reports:
There are a lot of social media listening tools out there, but we recommend doing your research before signing up for a solution. At the end of the day, the success of your efforts will hinge not on the tools that you’re using, but how you use them. Here’s a few tips to note when using these tools:
Find Your Most Valuable Keywords to Monitor
For starters, most social media monitoring tools let you add specific keywords to monitor. One of the first things you should do is identify all the significant keywords to track on social. These may include:
Your company name
CEO and key executive names
Specific product or feature names
Keywords associated with competitors
Weaknesses about your products or services
Common customer pain points in your industry
The next tip is to act quickly. Social media monitoring will do nothing for customer satisfaction unless you act on the information. A 2018 survey from Clutch found the majority of consumers expect brands to respond to social media comments within 24 hours.
Actually, data shoed 83% expected companies to respond within less than a day, while 38% want brands to connect within an hour. Speed is clearly important to social media users, so if you want to keep their satisfaction levels high, make it a point to respond to their comments ASAP.
Pro tip: Most tools can alert you when important comments come through. Use this feature to your advantage.
3. Thoroughly Mine Your Product Ratings & Reviews
If you collect and display product ratings and reviews (which you totally should), all of this content is a goldmine for customer satisfaction insights. But more likely than not, you know this important, but manually digging through reviews content can be extremely time consuming and create unknowing biases toward responses in the process.
So what do you do if you get dozens or even tens of thousands of product reviews to dig through? It starts to feel like a literal hunt for gold.
That’s why PowerReviews launched its newest feature in its Intelligent Suite: Product Pulse. We listened to our customer feedback and the comments were clear–it’s too time-consuming to dig through review content.
Product Pulse does the heavy lifting by pulling most-used adjectives, trends customers see with the product and sentiment analysis with your items–all at the product level. Powered by our intuitive platform, Product Pulse provides real product insights in an easy-to-digest visual display.
The Intelligence Suite engine has already processed over 40 million consumer product reviews to discover 2 million unique topics with 5 million unique opinions to give your brand actionable product insights.
The quickest ways to frustrate your customers (and diminish satisfaction) is to not have answers to their questions. It’s important to arm your staff with the resources they need to provide prompt and adequate answers to your customers.
In addition to offering ample training, identify the most common question customers have and make sure your team is ready with the answers. At the same time, it helps to give shoppers the ability to find answers for themselves.
According to Forrester, 53% will leave a site if they cannot find an answer to a product question before purchase. So, what’s a brand to do?
Let your shoppers submit their own questions. This can be helpful on your product pages because it allows shoppers to bring up item-specific concerns.
Their question is then routed to the most qualified sources based on flexible business rules set by Skechers. Shoppers get an answer within 3 hours or less through a follow-up email with a link to the product page so they can complete their purchase.
With the feature, Skechers saw a 32% increase in conversion for products and a 51% bump in their conversion rate from answer notification emails. This goes to show that shoppers who get answers to their questions are more likely to complete their purchase.
In addition to having the right answers, being quick with delivering them can also help customer satisfaction. Research from Forrester found 73% of customers believe their own time is the most valuable asset for great customer service.
One of the best ways to show customers that you value their time is to provide answers and services quickly. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:
Set Up an Auto-Response
Even if can’t answer right away, let people know their message was received. Automate this by setting up a customer service autoresponder that notifies users you got their message. Your auto-response also tells people how they can get in touch if they need to follow up.
For instance, when you submit a customer support ticket on Postmates, you immediately receive a “Request received” message. In some cases, an auto-response can even streamline the support process for you.
Check out this example from ThirdLove. After submitting a Returns/Exchange request, you’ll get an automatic message with instructions on what to do next and a link to download a return label.
Route Questions to the Right Department
Set up your help center in a way that queries are filtered and routed to the right people. If you’re using a form or live chat to collect customer questions and requests, you can do this with a drop-down menu that lets users specify the nature of their request.
Apparel retailer Showpo does just that with its chat form that has a drop-down menu on which customers can select their “Enquiry Type.”
5. Show & Tell Customers You Want to Improve Satisfaction
Once you’ve done something to address customer feedback, follow-up so it’s known you’ve addressed the concern. This is as simple as sending an email or a social media message saying you’ve fixed the issue.
If you’re addressing a larger concern that many customers have brought up, notify users through a product email update or blog post addressing common concerns.
For the longest time, Grammarly users asked for integration with Google Docs. So when it finally happened, Grammarly published a blog post announcing the update and that the customer feedback is the main reason they updated the software.
Deliver on Your Word
It’s all about focusing on delivering first and delighting second.
This may seem like weird advice when we constantly hear businesses should “surprise and delight” their customers. However, a separate Harvard Business Review study found consumers’ tendency to punish bad service is greater than their impulse to reward delightful interactions.
We have updated info for SoundSport Free owners about the reports of an audio/video delay issue with some video sources. More details can be found here: https://t.co/xs1rJ6NNaT
Bose shows you why it’s important to evaluate your existing products, services and experiences customers face when interacting with your brand. They identified areas of dissatisfaction and then took action.
Another company that did this well is Fandango, a ticketing company that lets people book tickets online and through mobile devices. The company gathered feedback from its users and discovered a big problem.
When using Fandango’s seat selection feature, customers had having trouble knowing what side of the theater was faced toward the screen. It’s a simple hurdle that could cause a lot of unhappy front- and back-row customers.
That feedback was routed to Fandango’s product team, which addressed the issue straight away. If you want to improve customer satisfaction, take action on your word and show consumers you listen and fix problems.
Improving Customer Satisfaction Is a Long-Term Process
Boosting satisfaction requires performing two key things very well: measurement and addressing the issues causing the most problems. This isn’t a one-and-done method.
Brands have to keep up and prioritize customer satisfaction as well as product sentiment because moods change over time. So no matter how satisfied your shoppers are today, make it a point to keep measuring and keep improving!
While every section of your website needs to be optimized, your product pages deserve extra love and attention. Why? Because these pages, along with well-written product descriptions, are the parts of your online store that actually drive sales.
In fact, research from Monetate found product detail pages (PDPs) account for a quarter of all ecommerce landing pages. This means your product pages are increasingly becoming the first touchpoint shoppers have with your brand.
So, if you haven’t spruced them up in a while, it’s high time to do so. We recommend starting with your product descriptions because they play a pivotal role in generating both traffic and conversions.
Well-crafted product descriptions do more than just describe your merchandise. When done right, your descriptions convey your unique voice, get people excited and even help you rank on Google.
In this post, we cover the 11 critical elements to help you create winning product descriptions. Check them out and see what applies to your store!
1. A Distinct & Relatable Voice
Product description writing tip No 1: Inject your copy with a unique voice and tone that speaks to your target audience. If you’re a quirky company that caters to millennials, then you’ll want to adopt a casual tone and maybe throw in a bit of humor.
But If the plan is to target executives at large enterprises, your copy would should feel more serious and professional. It all depends on your voice and who you’re talking to.
Check out this example from iPhone accessories store Zero Gravity. Each of their product descriptions are written in a casual and fun tone, which is great because Zero Gravity specializes in bold and distinctive phone cases.
Meanwhile, the American Red Cross uses a different voice and tone to sell items like instructor kits to teach first aid, CPR and how to use an AED in emergencies. The Red Cross uses a more straightforward tone that appeals to importance of information and newest measures to teach.
So why would you go through all the trouble of sprucing up your copy?
For starters, adopting a distinctive voice—especially one that caters to your audience—strengthens the connection they have with your brand. Speaking the language of your customers makes you relatable, builds trust and increases the chances of conversions.
As a bonus, this practice also enables you to come up with unique content, which helps you with SEO for ecommerce. And this brings us to our next point:
2. The Right Keywords
It’s important for your descriptions to contain the search terms that shoppers would use when looking for your merchandise. This gives you a better chance for your product pages to show up on search engines, which in turn drives traffic and sales.
To first step in optimizing your product pages for SEO is conducting keywords research. Use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to search for keywords and identify other terms that your customers frequently use.
Let’s say you’re selling journals, planners and notebooks. A quick search of those terms on Google’s Keyword planner uncovers a variety of other search terms, including “ruled notebook,” “unique writing journals,” “lined notebook paper” and more.
Depending on your merchandise, you can incorporate some of the keywords you find in your product descriptions.
For example, notice how in their description of an 80 Page Lined Journal Notebook, AnyPromo makes it a point to pepper in relevant search terms into the text.
Do the same thing for your product pages. Research the keywords that consumers use when searching for your products, then incorporate those terms into your descriptions. Now, this isn’t to say that you should stuff your description with keywords. Instead, sprinkle a healthy amount of search terms in your copy, while still making it readable and engaging.
Luckily with the help of PowerReviews, we help add structure data to your product pages to get critical and unique review content to be indexed by Google. This means you get more ranking content with the additional reviews you produce.
One of the most common pieces of marketing advice is to focus on benefits over features when describing what you’re selling. People who give this advice make an excellent point.
It really is more effective to tell shoppers how something would benefit them versus just giving them a laundry list of features or capabilities. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore features completely when describing your products. After all, your customers still need to know what a product does and what it’s capable of.
Your product descriptions should have the right balance of features and benefits. They should describe your items and clearly display its specifications, while at the same time, spell out the deeper advantages that each feature brings to the table.
Have a look at Moleskine’s product description for their Classic Backpack. The left column is very benefits-centric.
It talks about how the product helps you “organize your mobile workspace” and how the backpack enables you to “store and organize everything you need as you navigate your day and connect with the people, places and passions that populate the city unfolding before you.”
The right column, on the other hand, is a straightforward list of features. Adopt a similar approach with your descriptions.
Strive to communicate a product’s features AND benefits effectively, while make them easy to find at the same time.
4. Visual Product Variations
Do you sell multiple products with different variations like color, size or print?
You’re not alone. A lot of businesses have various similar products, but don’t show buyers every single option. Some ecommerce folks might think it’s easier to simply show a single image of a variant product and provide more detailed visuals with a specific or high-selling item.
Instead, take the time to get great visual content for every single product you have. There’s no reason to provide fewer images or even videos of a variant product.
No one likes to shop on line and come across this–a small display of images showing the various colors of a sheets for a queen size bed. Before you know it, you’re zooming in and trying to make out what kind of blue is “Lake Blue.”
One of the more important online shopping statistics shows within the next two years, mobile ecommerce is projected make up almost 73% of total ecommerce sales. That means you need to think about the mobile experience and if your customers can see the variant products up close.
For example, iJet does a fantastic job showcasing the various colors for its Samsonite suitcase. It would be easy to mistake certain colors or see if variant products have different features. But the zoomable and various images give shoppers more confidence to buy.
5. A Good Story
Want your product descriptions to make a bigger impact? Tell a better story. Scientific studies have shown that human brains become more active when stories are told, and people are highly receptive to thoughts, ideas and emotions when they understand a particular narrative.
Depending on your products, it may be helpful to incorporate narratives into your descriptions. Stories make your product descriptions stick. They also help people understand your items better, which ultimately prods them to hit the buy button.
Consider sharing a quick anecdote describing how you came up with a product. Lin Manuel-Miranda does just that in the product description of the “Mr. Write” t-shirt on TeeRico:
See if you can do something similar for your products. Find a tidbit or anecdote to describe an item and incorporate it in your copy. It could be just the thing that makes you stand out.
6. Easy to Scan the Page & Copy
Part of ensuring your product descriptions are easy to digest is by making them scannable. Scannable text looks more appealing and encourages people to give it a read.
Here are some of the things that can help shoppers easily scan your copy:
Short paragraphs: Walls of text make your copy look lengthy, which often bores people away. You’ll want to keep your paragraphs short (i.e., 4 lines or fewer) and succinct.
Headers: People on their phone or computer tend to scan product descriptions to find information relevant to them. Help them do that by using headers that break up your content into sections.
Bullet points: Lists and bullet points make text easier to read, particularly if you’re communicating product specs and features.
Adidas does all three in its Ultraboost product description, with one tab focusing on features and benefits and a second tab listing the shoe’s specifications.
The specifications tab, we get down to the nitty gritty details of the product, which might not be as relevant for some shoppers, but still important to display.
This helps consumers know more about the product quality and the materials you chose. As more shoppers focus on organic and sustainable products, it’s essential to keep these details available on product pages, but obstructing the description with too long of text.
Clearly, social proof is critical to creating compelling descriptions, which is why you should incorporate them into your product pages whenever possible. Consider the following:
Ratings & Reviews
We’ve already established that ratings and reviews influence consumer decisions to make a purchase, but did you know having them on your product descriptions also lowers your return rates? Based on 10 years of working with over a thousand brands and retailers, we’ve found that companies see a 20% reduction in product returns for items with ratings and reviews.
So, how do you get more of them on your product pages? Start by actively encouraging customers to rate and review their purchases. Send a post-purchase email asking them to provide feedback, and if possible, throw in an incentive for them to do so.
Nordstrom, for instance, encourages shoppers to review their purchases by giving them a chance to win a $1,000 gift card.
Once you have those ratings and reviews, display them prominently on your product page. Have the star rating as one of the first things people see when they’re on the page, and make sure your ratings and reviews section is prominent and easy to find.
Take the clothing company SCOTTeVEST. In addition to displaying an item’s star rating at the top part of the page, SCOTTeVEST shows the star rating again right above the written reviews section.
What about you? Do you display your ratings loudly and proudly? If not, take a leaf out of SCOTTeVEST’s playbook and make your product’s star ratings more prominent.
The rise of user-generated content (UGC) has changed consumer expectations when it comes to retail visuals. Professional product photos are still essential, but if you want to build trust and convey authenticity, you need to go a step further by including images from other consumers. A study by Olapic found that 63% of U.S. consumers trust customer photos more than brand or retailer photos.
You can easily promote UGC by adding a feature on your product page that lets customers upload photos of themselves using your products. One retailer that’s doing this well is SheIn, which has an upload feature that allows customers to include photos with their reviews.
Try to do the same thing with your product pages. Encourage your customers to snap and share photos of themselves while using your products. With PowerReviews, we provide user-generated content visuals for products that help shoppers understand the product more thoroughly.
In fact, our Snapshot of Ecommerce report found 58% of those between the ages of 18-29 find user-generated content important or very important in their purchasing decisions.
Why limit what your shoppers need to make better decisions? See how our Visual and Social Suite helps you generate more authentic content.
8. Excellent Visuals
Fact: human beings are visual creatures who process image data better and faster than text. For this reason, it’s important to include several visual elements in your product descriptions. Aside from your official product photos and the user-generated content mentioned above, consider adding the following visual elements:
Videos are great when you want to show your products in action, and as it turns out, they can also drive sales. In the fashion industry, it’s been found that video increases conversions by 134%.
SCOTTeVEST, once again, is doing a great job here. All of their product pages have video descriptions that demonstrate the unique features of each item.
Diagrams serve as effective visual aids for conveying the size and scale of an item. On Giant Hugs, for example, they have size charts that you can access right from the product page to get a better idea of the size and fit of each piece.
9. Trust Signals
Consumers are certainly more comfortable when making purchases online, but many still experience fear or hesitation when it comes to buying something they can’t physically see and touch.
While things like great copy and customer photos certainly build trust, you’ll want to go a step further by throwing in additional trust signals in your descriptions. Money-back guarantees or certificates of authenticity alleviate any misgivings that people have about purchasing your products, so include them whenever you can.
This company, which sells pre-loved luxury goods, Fashionphile, does this on all of their product pages. Fashionphile’s descriptions always spell out their money-guarantee to quell any concerns shoppers may have about purchasing from them.
See if you can do the same thing with your product descriptions. If you offer any guarantees, communicate them clearly in your text to alleviate trust issues and be on your way toward building brand loyalty within customers that will come back and rely on you in the future.
10. Relevant Offerings
Advertising your promotions on the homepage is great. But make sure you include those sale and offer details in your product descriptions as well.
Check out what Guess Factory is doing. In addition to prominently display the sale price and discount on the top of the product page, Guess’ product descriptions also have a line reminding shoppers of their new arrivals promotion.
Remember, a good chunk of shoppers are likely bypassing your homepage and going straight to your product pages. You want to make these users aware of any offers available that might’ve been missed on another page.
Follow in the footsteps of GUESS by spelling out your offers in your product descriptions.
11. Provide Answers to Your Product’s Most Pressing Questions
See to it that your product descriptions answer any questions that shoppers may have. Failing to do so could lead to site abandonment. According to Forrester, approximately 55% of shoppers in the U.S. abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their product question.
When writing your descriptions, go beyond simply telling people about your products. Consider any questions or concerns people have about your product, and then address those in the copy.
You can also consider adding a Question and Answers or FAQ section on the product page itself so shoppers find the answers they need easily. PowerReviews offers Q&A software to do just that.
Make it easy for your customers to access important product questions and see who is actually writing the answer with review badges. And for all the brands out there, it’s essential to make sure your customers are getting the appropriate answers on your retailer sites.
That’s why we created Brand Engage, a tool for brands to answer directly to customers on retailer sites that participate in the Open Network.
For example, PING Golf sells plenty of equipment and accessories across retailer sites like the PGA Tour Superstore. But what if someone has a question about a driver that maybe only the brand would know?
With Brand Engage, PING can answer questions directly on PGA Tour Superstore’s retailer site to give buyers the confidence to click buy.
Take Your Product Descriptions to the Next Level
Great product descriptions go beyond stating facts about your merchandise. Much like a high-performing retail store associate, your descriptions should engage shoppers, build trust and ultimately sell your products.
Are you happy with your product descriptions and ready to take it to the next level? How are you planning to improve them?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
As an ecommerce business, you always look to get more website traffic, new shoppers, better customer feedback and obviously, ways to earn more revenue.
The good news–you have numerous ways to generate traffic and sales. From search and social media to email and referrals, there’s no shortage of marketing strategies to implement and test.
But the bad news? There are numerous ways to generic traffic and sales.
Without a coherent and up to date ecommerce marketing strategy, you risk falling into the trap of trying too many things without knowing what works. Before jumping into traffic-generating tactics, you first have to iron out your ecommerce marketing strategy so it’s able to connect to the modern shopper.
Think of the perfect ecommerce marketing strategy having a roadmap to show you who to target, how to engage your audience and how to measure your efforts so you only invest ROI tactics. On top of that, you need to know the recent market changes and what it takes to succeed in online sales for 2019.
To help you get closer to your objectives, check out our five step ecommerce marketing strategy for 2019:
Step 1: Know Your Audience & Their Problems You Solve
You can’t have a successful ecommerce marketing strategy if you don’t know who to market. That’s why the first step is to get to know your target audience.
Who do you want to reach with your marketing? What messaging resonates them?
Figuring all that out requires creating buyer personas or avatars of your target customers. Begin by asking questions like “Who do we want to attract to our site?” and “Who are our typical buyers?”
The answers to these questions should give you an initial picture of what your target customer looks like. For example, if you’re a fashion boutique that sells high-end vintage clothing, then one of your ideal audiences could be women in their 30s with disposable income.
Of course this seems counterintuitive since you’re trying to sell to many people. However, focusing on a single customer allows you to uncover more useful and specific characteristics about the key shoppers that you want to reach.
Doing so makes your message more relevant and compelling.
Give Your Persona a Name & Photo
Naming your persona and adding a visual component makes them tangible. It also helps your entire marketing team understand the demographic more clearly.
The realer an avatar is to you and your team, the easier it is know the potential customer such as their likes, dislikes, hobbies and overall buying process.
Get Very Specific With Your Persona Details
Through audience research, you should uncover demographic and psychographic details about your persona. Use the info you gather to develop a rich profile that answers questions like:
How old is your persona?
Where do they live?
How much do they make per year?
Are they married?
Do they have kids?
What do they spend time doing?
What problems or issues puts them in your store?
Here’s an example of what a persona page might look like:
Consider doing something similar with your persona profile. Create a page for them, give them a name and populate their profile with specific details. This will allow you to get a more accurate target audience.
Step 2: Limit Purchase-Blocking Obstacles on Your Website
One of the key objectives of every ecommerce marketing strategy is to drive traffic to the website. As an online retailer or even brand, you want your audience to go to the exact spot where they can buy your products.
That’s why your website has to be easy to navigate and limits the hurdles to get checked out. The last thing you want is to have a smashing marketing campaign that persuades people to check out your brand, only for them to bounce when they reach your website.
Check out this example from Mack Weldon, a mens direct to consumer online clothing store. Their site’s “Quick Buy” functionality lets you choose a color, size and presents the checkout cart all on one window before even getting into the product page.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy for creating a winning site, but it always helps to make it easy and simple to checkout. And to help you improve your website, here are some general best practices:
Make Sure Your Site Speaks to Your Audience
At this point, you’ve done a lot of research on your target customers. Put all the information into good use by making sure that all the elements of your webpages—from the design and layout to the copy and images—speak to your key audience.
Doing that means using content and imagery with which your target customers can identify. For example, Forever 21, which caters to young girls looking for great deals, uses web copy and imagery to appeal to its audience.
Forever 21’s website has a big, bold design that promotes deals like its One Dollar Shop. The brand also hires models that reflect the types of customers it wants to reach.
The company is constantly trying to connect with its audience by promoting brand advocates and its biggest fans. This helps build a better community between the shopper and retailer.
Shoppers today are certainly more comfortable buying stuff online, but some still experience uncertainty when making an ecommerce purchase. That’s why it’s important to create a site that instills trust and credibility.
Your site should make customers feel confident about their purchase decisions. You can do that through authentic product reviews and user-generated content that shows shoppers what real customers are saying about your items.
Invest in a Mobile-Friendly Site
Mobile has overtook desktop when it comes to sites visits. A study by Perficient Digital found that in 2018, 58% of site visits came from mobile devices, and mobile made up 42% of total time spent online.
People clearly love browsing on their mobile devices, so if your site doesn’t look or function well on the small screen, you’re in trouble.
Take the necessary steps to ensure that your site is mobile friendly. At the very least, see to it that you’re using a responsive mobile design. And if you have the resources to do so, consider implementing a mobile-first site experience.
There’s also the issue of speed. Mobile site load times are generally slower than desktop, so you’ll need to make mobile-specific adjustments to ensure that smartphone and tablet users can load your site quickly.
Speaking of speed…
Always Find Ways to Speed Up Your Website
Poor website load times is one of the top reasons that visitors leave an ecommerce site. According to data from Google, when a page’s load time goes from 1 to 10 seconds, the likelihood of a mobile user bouncing increases by a whopping 123%.
For your ecommerce marketing strategy, you have to include ways to improve site speeds. As Neil Patel points out, 40% of users leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load and 52% of online shoppers said that speedy load times are important to their loyalty to a site.
How to Improve Page Load Speeds
Speed is paramount in online commerce, so here’s a few other ways to improve your page load times:
Avoid Overly-Large Visuals & Files: Visuals are essential in ecommerce, but using images with large file sizes can slow down a website. Avoid using larger-than-necessary images by shrinking their file size through a tool like Resize Image.
Choose a More Optimal File Type: Additionally when it comes to image files, converting an image file from PNG to JPG compresses the image without compromising a lot in terms of quality.
Prevent Excessive Redirects or 301s: Redirects tell a browser that the webpage you’re trying to visit now goes to another URL. This happens often and seamlessly without customers knowing. However, loading redirect URLs adds another step, which slows down sites. It also makes it more difficult for search engines to rank or read your page.
Limit Unnecessary Plugins or Tools: Plugins can add to your site’s load time, so remove anything that isn’t necessary to each page. Again, it’s critical to know what platforms take up the most and least amount of space on your site.
Know What Slows You Down: Each web property is different, so analyze the performance of your website to identify the issues slowing you down. Google’s own Page Insights tool is a good place to start. It gives your site a speed score, runs diagnostics and surfaces opportunities to speed it up.
Step 3: Determine Your Marketing Channels & Tactics
Is your website in top shape? Good. Now, let’s talk about the marketing channels and tactics you can use to drive traffic to it.
People spend hours on social media daily, which makes social networks effective platforms for getting in front of your potential shoppers. There are plenty of ways to implement social media marketing, but in general, your efforts would fall into one of two buckets:
Organic Social Media Marketing
Organic social media marketing is all about growing your following and reach through natural ways. You do this by posting likeable and share-worthy content that appeals to your audience.
Taking advantage of features like hashtags and mentions to get your content in front of a wider audience. Check out this post from Fatty Sundays.
Aside from being witty and timely, the post contains popular hashtags. Fatty Sundays also tagged and mentioned the source of the quote.
Paid Social Media Marketing
Want to pay for more engagement? Paid social media marketing campaigns allow you to extend the reach of your content. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have native tools that get your posts in feeds of users who aren’t already following your brand.
Whether you want to promote a new product or retarget previous users, there are several social ad tools to check out. For instance, promote a specific product page or offer a deal like Firstleaf in this ad.
Or, you can promote a collection of products by using a carousel ad. Side note: it’s smart to know the various Facebook or Instagram sizes for its carousel images and videos. It’s all about ensuring your content is promoted at the highest quality possible so it fits perfectly into the ad or organic post.
No matter what type of tools you decide to use, keep in mind that the best social media marketing campaigns usually have a mix of organic and paid components. Organic brand reach has decreased significantly over the last few years. So as you continue creating engaging content for your followers, you also need to put money behind your efforts to reach more people.
Social media marketing can do wonders, but don’t rely on it alone to reach your audience. Here’s why: social platforms essentially control the reach and distribution of your posts. A single algorithmic change can diminish the performance of your content.
With email marketing, you have more control over the distribution of your content. The email addresses of your subscribers live in your database, which means you have a better handle of when and how to get in touch with them.
Any good email marketing strategy starts with a compelling offer to get people to hand over the email address. Here’s one from Amika, which gives people a 15% discount in exchange for their email.
From there, you can craft an email marketing calendar that has a healthy mix of engaging content (i.e., promotions, company news, editorial content) that drives traffic back to your site.
According to MuseFind, a whopping 92% of consumers trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. Influencers clearly have a lot of pull with consumers, which is why it makes sense for brands to engage them.
Influencer marketing comes in many forms but it typically involves building relationships with social media personalities who can influence your target audience.
Think about the people your customers follow on social media. Aside from their friends and family, who are the individuals that they look up to? Whose content do they enjoy consuming?
Once you’ve identified the right people, reach out and see if you can sponsor their content. In some cases, doing this means letting the influencer publish posts featuring your products. Have a look at this example from Wil De Beast, a GNC Canada Ambassador:
In other instances, brands co-create content with the influencer. Rather than an obvious ad, the brand’s product appears as a natural part of the influencer’s story.
You can see this in action the following short film by YouTube stars Wong Fu Productions, which they did in collaboration with homeware retailer Simplehuman.
The nature of your relationship depends on the influencer. Whoever you decide to work with, though, choose to align yourself with individuals who fit your brand’s values.
Already have an active customer base? Set up an affiliate agreement where they’re rewarded every time they successfully refer someone to your brand.
That reward be a commission, free products, or a discount. There’s no one best way to do it, as the best affiliate marketing structure depends on your business model.
Meal prep company Freshly, for instance, implements a “Give $40, Get $40” referral program to encourage its members to share the service with their friends.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a wide topic and it covers a variety of tasks including:
Website performance optimization
It’s incredibly powerful to get your brand in front of people who are actively searching for products you sell. That’s why when implemented correctly, SEO for ecommerce is profitable marketing strategy.
Do note that the keyword here is “correctly.” Engaging in unethical or black hat SEO tactics can lead to penalties from search engines, completely derailing your ecommerce site.
Be sure to stay on Google’s good graces when running an SEO strategy or better yet, hire an experienced professional or agency with a proven track record.
SEO is effective, but it takes time and continuous effort to make it to the top of search engine results pages. If you’re looking for a shortcut to the top of SERPs, search ads are the way to go.
The most popular types of search ads in ecommerce are Google AdWords and Google Shopping ads, or Product Listing Ads.
Google Adwords: These are text-based ads that appear on top of organic search results. Unlike social media ads which target users based on their demographics AdWords target search queries. So, if you’re an online retailer that sells teas and tea accessories, you could use AdWords to target users searching for things like “tea infusers” or “loose tea leaves.”
Google Shopping Ads: Like AdWords, Google Shopping Ads appear above the organic search results. Unlike AdWords, Shopping ads are image-based and they pull from the advertiser’s online inventory. Sign up for a Merchant Center account and upload your products into a feed. Then start creating shopping campaigns to get products appearing in relevant searches.
Marketing doesn’t always have to involve plugging your products. In many cases, creating high-quality content can attract the right traffic—and ultimately, the right customers.
A great example of a brand investing in content marketing is Dollar Shave Club. DSC regularly publishes informative and entertaining content about grooming and lifestyle, which perfectly aligns with its brand.
It may be against your instincts to have an offline marketing strategy if you try to drive online traffic. However, a strong physical presence benefits your brand in a number of ways.
For starters, it gives you more credibility. Anyone can build an ecommerce store, but nothing builds your “retail cred” more than having a shop in the real world.
Now, you don’t necessarily have to build fully-fledged brick-and-mortar stores to have an offline presence. Many ecommerce brands are starting small by establishing pop-up shops in select markets.
The online pure play Brandless did just that last year. The company opened a pop-up shop in Los Angeles, where people get to know the brand and its products. What’s cool about the initiative is that Brandless used it to drive online sales.
A few days after the pop-up event, Brandless emailed attendees with a $9 credit that they can use towards their first purchase on the site.
Step 4: Execute Your Campaigns & Stay Focused on Goals
You’ve done your audience research, tightened up your website and identified the best marketing channels and tactics for your business. The next step is executing your campaigns.
The specific best practices around campaign execution will depend on your marketing channels, but here are some general things to consider:
Keep Your Team in Sync
If your campaign has several moving parts, you need to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page. You can do this by:
Appointing a Project Owner: Have one person “own” the campaign. They will oversee its various components and will serve as the go-to person for the campaign. When there’s a project owner, those working on the campaign know immediately who to turn to for questions and concerns, leading to fewer miscommunications.
Use an Efficient Communication Channel: One of the best ways to keep your team in sync is to have a shared platform on which people can post updates or raise issues. A project-specific forum or chat room (e.g. Slack channel) where all the stakeholders are present can serve as an effective solution for this.
We're deepening the way tools you already use every day, like email, calendar, calls and files, integrate with Slack. With tools like our new apps for email and calendars, information flows into and out of Slack, removing friction from your work day. #SlackFrontierspic.twitter.com/uR62OS6LwF
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
This line gets passed around in advertising and marketing circles But to this day, countless marketers fall into the trap of trying new ecommerce marketing strategies and tactics without properly measuring and attributing results.
Avoid this with clear campaigns KPIs. Ask yourself what success looks like and determine the metrics by which your campaign’s performance will be measured.
Get the Timing Right
Even the best campaigns fall flat if they’re executed at the wrong time. Make timing an important consideration for your marketing campaigns to maximize their impact.
Keep a marketing calendar that lists all important events and occasions throughout the year. Go beyond the big holidays and pay attention to big pop culture events.
Need inspiration on how to do this right? Check out this campaign from Alex + Ani. Launched in May 2019, the campaign centered on two hot and timely themes: Mother’s Day and Game of Thrones.
Step 5: Measure & Analyze Your Results (Success & Failures)
Analytics is a critical component of any ecommerce marketing strategy. With the right data, you determine which components of your strategy work and what doesn’t. This lets you replicate the positive results and improve on things that not going well.
The key to nailing the analytics side of things is proper attribution. By assigning a tracking component to each initiative, you can trace the results to specific campaigns or efforts.
The right tracking methods depend on what you do. If you market on Facebook, take advantage of Facebook’s ad pixel. If you’re running affiliate campaigns, set up your referral links correctly you can attribute sales to the right sources.
Analyze Your Product Insights Thoroughly
You likely have a mecca of product insights in front you–but are you even using this content to make better product decisions?
Ratings and reviews content helps brands and retailers investigate, detail and improve product launches or faulty occurrences with items in general. That’s why we made Product Pulse.
With the help of Product Pulse, you can dig into the hundreds or thousands of reviews to find common customer sentiment analysis data. For example, it’s easy to see the most popular adjectives for an item at the product level.
You might think it’d be just as easy to dig through reviews and find this data, but we’ve done it, and it’s just not true. It takes a ton of manpower and hours to dig, pull commonalities and even avoid unintended biases with your results.
Or you could use Product Pulse to pull reports on individual products in minutes.
Want to see it in action? Request a demo today to test drive Product Pulse yourself!
Get a Qualitative View of Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy
It’s important to note that measuring and analyzing your activities isn’t just about the numbers. Produce a more qualitative view of how your ecommerce marketing strategy operates and works.
You can do this catching up with your team on a regular and per-project basis. Let’s say you just finished running a major marketing campaign.
After wrapping up, get the project’s stakeholders together and discuss the results. What went right? What didn’t? How can you improve going forward?
Combined with web analytics data, qualitative insights will give you the full picture, which in turn can help you take your ecommerce marketing strategy to the next level.
And there you have it! The ultimate guide to running a successful ecommerce marketing strategy. We’ve covered a lot of ground in this piece and we hope it gives you a clear picture of how to best market you store.
Endorsements from famous people don’t carry as much weight as they used to. We now live in an age where consumers value the opinions of real people over big-name celebrities or even influencers.
So, what does that mean for brand advocates?
As pointed out by Convince and Convert, 92% of consumers trust brand advocates while only 18% trust influencers.
And what does that data mean for your brand?
For starters, your customers want authentic interactions with your brand. One of the best ways to build trust in your brand is by involving people your target audience relates to.
Brand advocacy allows you to increase word of mouth around your company in an authentic way. When implemented correctly, a brand advocacy strategy enables you to build trust and grow your audience.
In this post, we’ll tackle the ins and outs of establishing a brand advocacy program for your business. You’ll also discover the right methods for identifying brand advocates and how to enable them to spread the word about your products.
What Are Brand Advocates?
Brand advocates are typically existing customers or employees who spread positive word of mouth about your products. These individuals know, like and trust your brand and they’re happy to talk you up to their friends, family and followers–usually for free.
What’s the Difference Between Brand Advocates & Influencers?
The difference between brand advocates and influencers is while both “spread the word” about your brand, influencers typically work transactionally, while advocates work more like your employees or biggest fans.
Influencer marketing is highly transactional. You pay or sponsor influencers or micro-influencer to post content about your products and it works much like a celebrity endorsement, but at a smaller scale.
Brand advocacy is all about harnessing the goodwill of people who are already familiar with your brand. While advocates can certainly be incentivized through product samples or free giveaways, their main motivation isn’t the perks— it’s the fact they genuinely feel connected to your brand.
Another distinction? Influencers talk to their “audience,” while advocates share their thoughts with their network of friends and relatives.
How to Successfully Identify Your Brand Advocates
Now that you’re all caught up with what brand advocates are (and what they aren’t), it’s time to figure out how to identify the right ones to work with. Below are the steps you can take when finding brand advocates.
Understand Your Target Market
The first step to identifying brand advocates is to get clear on who you’re trying to reach. Who’s your target audience? What’s their age group? What do they value? Answering these questions will help you figure out the right advocates to approach.
Let’s say that you’ve decided to market to moms in their 30s who want to stay fit and work on meal prepping. You can do research on that audience and determine the types of people that they follow and listen to.
From there, you’ll have a better idea of the types of advocates to engage.
Look for People Who Are Already Talking About Your Brand
Once you have a profile of the types of advocates that you want to work with, run a social media search for people who are already mentioning your brand in their content. Here are six easy ways to do this:
1. Turn to Your Brand Mentions
Search your social networks for people who mentioned your brand name. Note that these mentions don’t necessarily have to be “official” tags (i.e., with an “@” sign). In many cases, you’ll find the most authentic brand mentions in these untagged posts.
Keep an eye out specifically for people who are responding to questions from other users. For example, in the Twitter conversation below, we see an authentic exchange between moms talking about infant car seats:
These are the types of posts to keep an eye out for. You can use social media listening tools to find and track conversations like this going on about your brand.
2. Look for People Who’ve Tagged You in Their Photos
If you want your brand advocacy program to be more visual, go through your photo tags to identify people who are talking about your brand.
Once you find individuals who fit your advocate profile, put them on a list of users to reach out to.
3. Dig Into Your Product Reviews
The best brand advocates are the ones who are already buying from you. It’s smart to go through your existing customer base to identify advocates you can work with.
One of the easiest way to find previous shoppers who love your products is to look for people who are already sharing positive customer feedback about your products. Go through your ratings and review content on your product pages and identify those who left positive reviews.
See what customers are posting visual content, leaving multiple reviews and certain keywords that pertain to your products. For some brands, this sounds like a lot of manual work.
We get it.
However, we built Product Pulse specifically for this reason. PowerReviews provides brands and retailers with a sentiment analysis tool to easily dig through review content and find helpful insights.
Try to go through your sales reports to see your most active customers. If someone is buying from you repeatedly, chances are they’re a fan of your brand and they’ll happily advocate for you.
This is also a great opportunity to help form your target audience for brand advocates. Sales data let’s you segment your audience, develop messages and find new consumer insights.
It’s about how you connect these insights to your advocacy program!
5. Consider Your Employees’ Communities
Your employees are excellent brand advocates.
Think about it: they work for you, so they know all about your products. And since your staff are already familiar with your story, brand guidelines and rules of conduct, getting them on board your brand advocacy program will be an easy process.
One example of a company that invests in employee brand advocacy is Macy’s. Last year, the retailer launched Macy’s Style Crew, a community of Macy’s employees who are actively posting beauty and fashion content featuring Macy’s products.
Don’t be afraid to use the power of your employees’ communities, like on social media, to promote and communicate their love for your brand.
How to Enable Brand Advocates
Have you already identified people you want to work with? Great! The next step is to connect with brand advocates and encourage them to spread the word about your products to their network.
The following action steps can help you do that:
Be Authentic With Your Outreach
There are several ways to get in touch with brand advocates and the right approach depends on the channel they use. For some brand advocates—such as customers who’ve left reviews—email is the most efficient way to get in touch.
For others, social media comments or direct message are a better approach. Regardless of how you decide to get in touch with them, strive to be authentic and relatable with your approach.
Let your advocates know that you’re grateful for the business and the positive words they’re sharing. Specifically reference the products that they bought or the content they shared, so that they feel like you’re personally connecting with them.
The luggage brand Away, for example, sends personalized replies to customers who mention its brand on social media.
Incentivize Them to Share
Offer up incentives such as discounts and rewards for people who share your products with their friends. To maximize efficiency, integrate this effort with your rewards or loyalty program, so members easily earn points for their referrals.
Buda Juice, a company that sells pressed juices, for instance, includes friend referrals and social sharing in its loyalty program. Members earn $50 points— equivalent to $5—for every friend they refer who makes a purchase.
Another way to earn? Buda Juice gives customers 50 points for following the brand and sharing its content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Offer Free Samples
Another way to encourage advocates to spread the word about your products? Give them merchandise to talk about. Implement a product sampling program, in which you send free samples to select customers.
If you select the right brand advocates (i.e., highly engaged individuals who fit your target market), then chances are good that they’ll review your products.
Case in point: Vornado, a brand that sells fans, heaters, air purifiers and humidifiers, ran a product sampling initiative to garner reviews for its new products as well as specific items in its catalog.
The program saw a whopping 97% response rate from advocates who wrote a review after receiving product samples. What’s more, the reviews collected from the initiative were 44% longer, indicating that the users who wrote them were highly engaged.
Build Relationships, Not Just Campaigns
Brand advocacy works best when you build relationships, as opposed to one-and-done campaigns. If you’re going to establish a brand advocacy program, you should commit to constantly engaging with your advocates.
You need to do the following, consistently:
Follow your top brand advocates on social media
Monitor your social feed for mentions and tags
Share and reply to the posts of brand advocates
The key is to routinely do these things. You want to be known as a brand who consistently connects with its customers and advocates. In doing so, you’ll not only encourage brand advocates to keep spreading the word about your products, but you’ll also attract new ones.
The apparel retailer Showpo is a great example of a brand that does an excellent job with brand advocates. Their customer engagement strategy is on point as they quickly and regularly promote their buyers.
The Showpo regularly “likes” posts from its customers. Its team also makes an effort to send direct messages to those who mention the brand on social media.
Additionally, Showpo regularly reposts customer content featuring its products. This is a great way to keep customers engaged.
Pro tip: If you’re looking to actively share and repost the content of your followers, manage all your efforts through a visual marketing and social content platform that enables you to stay on top of communications (e.g., outreach messages, permission requests for reposting, etc.) from one place.
Doing so will make your advocacy efforts more efficient, and you’ll easily track your shares and reposts with ease.
Tap into the Power of Communities
You can further strengthen your relationships with advocates by building a community around your brand. Make people feel that they are part of a group of like-minded individuals.
Doing so reinforces the connection that your customers have with your brand — and with each other. This boosts loyalty and keeps you top of mind which, in turn, leads to more word of mouth and referrals.
The fitness brand Peleton is a master at community building. Peleton was one of the first brands to leverage Facebook groups.
It created the Official Peleton Member Page, a place where customers can share stories, ask questions and stay up-to-date with company updates.
The effort proved to be successful. Peleton’s Facebook group has more than 164,000 members and sees 200+ posts per day. The initiative even led to spin-offs, including the Official Peloton Mom Group, Official Peloton Power Zone Pack and Official Peloton UK Member Group.
See if you can adopt a similar approach. If you have an active base of customers and advocates, create a community where they can meet like-minded people and build a stronger relationship with your brand.
Brand Advocacy Is a Must in Marketing
As more consumers crave authenticity in their social and brand interactions, traditional advertising and endorsements just won’t cut it anymore. You need to start enabling the most active members of your customer base to advocate for your brand.
Doing so will lead to higher brand awareness, favorable word of mouth—and ultimately—more sales.
We can’t talk about the future of retail and ecommerce without bringing up online marketplaces. Digital marketplaces have grown rapidly, gaining the attention of brand considering selling on Walmart Marketplace and other new spaces like the recently announced Target Marketplace.
It’s no surprise why more brands and using these spaces as research by Newegg found that in 2017, the world’s largest online retail marketplaces sold over $1.5 trillion. What’s more even more telling, these marketplaces grew over 30% within that year—double the growth of ecommerce overall.
The challenge for brands is knowing how to sell on Walmart Marketplace to begin with and what it takes to be successful in this space. That’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step walk through guide to selling on Walmart Marketplace.
You’ll discover what makes the platform work for brands, and you’ll learn the necessary steps you should take to become a seller on the site. Specifically, we’ll cover these main topics:
If your brand has any questions at all, our team is here to help. Contact us today to learn about our relationship with some of the top global retailers in our Open Network!
Why Sell on Walmart Marketplace?
Selling on Walmart Marketplace presents a major opportunity for brands to get its products in front of online shoppers by using the retailers name as a space to sell all sorts of products. Most consumers are familiar with the brands they can buy in store, but online marketplaces make it easy for any brand create an account and sell.
Before diving into specific tactics, here are some of the main reasons why brands should consider Walmart marketplace:
Get in Front of Millions Ready to Buy
Walmart’s website drives hundreds of millions of visitors per month. Even more impressive are Walmart’s numbers when it comes to visitor engagement. The average duration on the site is just above 4 minutes, and users view almost 5 pages per visit.
The numbers show us that people don’t just flock to Walmart in droves; they spend quite a bit of time on the site. Winning just a tiny sliver of Walmart’s visitors can do wonders for your brand by creating a massive channel that goes directly to your product.
Walmart Marketplace Is Poised for Growth
Yes, Amazon is still No. 1 as far ecommerce goes, but Walmart is certainly holding its own. According to the company’s fiscal report for 2019, Walmart’s ecommerce sales grew 43% from the previous quarter. The retailer also recently launched new features on Walmart Marketplace, including free two-day shipping on millions of products, as well as the ability to return marketplace purchases in physical retail stores.
These features are making the platform more attractive to consumers, which means your brand should be paying attention to this type of growth.
Improved Brand Recognition
Selling on Walmart Marketplace puts your brand and products in front of more people. And while not everyone who comes across your company will buy from it, having that increased presence could boost brand recognition and ultimately lead to additional traffic and sales.
Some merchants have even reported seeing their website traffic increase after setting up a listing on Walmart Marketplace. This suggests a brand’s alignment with the retail giant increases awareness, credibility and potentially even sales.
There’s No Monthly or Setup Fees
Unlike Amazon and some other marketplaces, which charge seller subscription costs and other selling fees, Walmart simply charges a category-specific referral fee when you successfully complete a sale.
And this brings us to our next point…
How Much Are Walmart’s Fees?
Walmart’s referral fees range from 6 to 20%, depending on the product category. Below, we’ve broke down the list of the most recent referral fees for contract categories:
Now that you know the advantages of selling on Walmart Marketplace, let’s look at the steps you should take to become a seller on the platform.
Step 1: Apply to Be a Walmart Marketplace Seller
The first thing you need to do is to apply for a Walmart Marketplace account. You can do this by heading to marketplace.walmart.com and clicking the Apply button on the top right. Or you can access the application form directly on marketplace-apply.walmart.com.
The application form takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. You’ll kick it off by filling out your basic contact information.
Then comes the fun part–you’ll need to supply other details about your business to legally comply with the marketplace. For example, your company needs to provide the legal company name, tax ID, annual sales revenue and other critical business information.
From this point, you’ll need to tell Walmart about your product assortment. This part of the form requires you to enter details about your top categories and what you actually sell.
Additionally, you’ll need to disclose your revenue and SKUs for each category.
If you have a web store, be ready to provide necessary information about where and how you sell your products. For example, you’ll be asked to specify the number of active SKUs you have on sale as well as the other marketplaces on which you’re selling, such as Amazon, eBay or soon-t-be Target.
Finally, you need to answer questions about your operations. Start by entering the percentage of SKUs you own versus the SKUs you dropship and fulfill with the FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon).
Then you will be asked about your shipping methods and customer return policy.
Once you submit the form, the Walmart Marketplace team reviews your information and gets in contact with your business about the status of your application. Fingers crossed for you!
Step 2: Complete Your Registration
If your application is approved, you’ll receive an email from Walmart inviting you to complete your registration. Typically, the email will look something like this:
To make this part of the process easier, have the following information handy:
At this point, it’s time to complete your registration with the following steps:
Registration Step 1: Create Your Account
The first step in the registration process is to create your account. Walmart will automatically generate your username based on the info you entered in the initial Marketplace application.
However, you’ll need to come up with a password that you’ll use to log in to up your account, add new products and check on sales.
Registration Step 2: Company Registration
Here, you’ll enter your display name, which is the name people see when they shop on Walmart’s site. Additionally, you’ll have to enter your corporate address, which is only for Walmart’s internal use.
Registration Step 3: W-9 Completion
In the next step, you must provide Walmart with a Form W-9. This allows Walmart to issue your business a 1099 at the end of the year.
Registration Step 4: Payment Details
Next up on your registration is setting up the payment details. Walmart has teamed up with Payoneer as its payment processor for Marketplace purchases. To receive payments from Walmart, you need to register for an account on the Payoneer website.
Once that’s done, you’ll be redirected to Walmart’s Seller Center.
Note that your status in Walmart’s Seller Center will remain “INACTIVE” while your Payoneer registration is pending. This should take only take a few minutes, though. After your register of a Payoneer account, you’ll receive a confirmation email shortly.
Registration Step 5: Shipping Information
Once your payment confirmation is complete, you will want to set up your shipping details. This allows Walmart to charge the right fees. But to do this, you first have to decide between two pricing models:
The Price of the Total Order: With this option, you will charge shipping based on the total price of order.
The Number of Item(s) Weight: If you choose this option, you will charge shipping based on the weight of the products and/or how many items need to be shipped.
After setting the pricing model, specify the shipping methods and regions you support. The four default shipping methods include:
Then you want to select the shipping regions under each method.
Walmart also lets you set transit time minimums and maximums for each method and region combinations. Take this into consideration with your current online sales and what works for you.
After filling out your shipping details, you can review your settings and click submit.
Step 3: Complete Your Partner Profile
Now that you’ve successfully registered, you can log into Walmart’s Seller Center and complete your Partner Profile. The Partner Profile tells Walmart shoppers all about your company and your policies.
To help you along with this process, we’ll discuss the sections you need to complete to get your profile up and running.
Add Your Company Info
In this section, you’ll enter your seller display name, upload your brand logo and add a brief company description.
Set Your Customer Service Policies
Next up are the details about your customer service policies. You’ll need to add your customer service contact details for your new customers. This includes things like your customer service phone number, email and best ways to contact you for support.
Additionally, you want to include the customer service policy information you’d like shoppers to know.
Pick Shipping Options
In this section, you’ll provide your shipping rates, processing schedule and shipping policies.
Decide Your Returns Policy
There’s also a section for returns, in which you specify your procedures, policies and fees associated with product returns. It’s smart to consider the amount of returns you typically see and how you plan to process items coming back to you both on Walmart and your own site.
Input Your Specific Sales Tax Information
Shoppers may be charged sales tax when purchasing your products. To ensure that customers are aware of their sales tax, you need to provide your tax policies and offer details on the jurisdictions in which you may have a sales tax obligation.
You’ll also need to specify tax codes for each supported shipping method you choose.
Step 4: Add Your Products to the Walmart Marketplace
You’ve finished setting up your Seller Profile—great! Now it’s time to add your products you want to sell on Walmart Marketplace. You can set up your items through a number of integration methods. They include:
API: This is the best method if your team has programming knowledge and you’re setting up a large catalog on Walmart.
Bulk Upload: In this method, you create Excel spreadsheets containing your items to bulk upload to Walmart. This is a good option for sellers who have a limited catalog.
Single Item: With this method, you’ll enter your product details directly into the Seller Center user interface. This method is recommended if you’re setting your first few items and/or if you have very limited product assortment.
Solution Provider: There are a number of solution providers who can help you manage your listings on Walmart Marketplace. You can choose to work with one of Walmart’s approved solution providers to handle your listings for you.
Make sure you do your homework before choosing a Walmart Marketplace solutions provider. There are some services that are tailored to specific products, which could be helpful for your brand.
Step 5: Preview Your Items & Place Test Orders
After the item setup stage, preview what your content and pricing will look like to shoppers. This is a critical step toward understanding what your shoppers will see.
If you’ve set up your items using Bulk Item Setup or REST APIs, you’ll need to check the Feed Status of your items. Here you will want to ensure your products were entered into the system correctly. Once you’ve confirmed, click on the Complete Item & Order Testing link in the Launch Checklist.
How to Preview Your Items
To preview how your items will look on Walmart’s website, click the Preview Item link on the item grid. This will bring up the listing page as it would appear to shoppers.
If this is your first time with Walmart Marketplace, make sure you review these product pages closely and ensure the details are correctly displayed.
How to Place Test Orders
To place a test order, update your price and inventory before publishing. Additionally, you will want to set the test item’s stock level to 1. This will prevent you from accidentally purchasing your product.
After publishing, click the Purchase Item link on the product grid. This will bring you to the live page where you can buy the item.
At this stage, you can test three different order scenarios:
Once you’ve completed the tests for those scenarios, simply reset the prices and stock levels of your test items.
This concludes the setup stage of the Walmart Marketplace. After completing these steps, the Walmart team will review your details. If all goes well, your profile and products will appear on the site!
How to Optimize Your Walmart Marketplace Listings & Drive Sales
Congratulations on getting your account up and running on Walmart Marketplace! Now that you’re an official Seller, it’s time to optimize your listings and maximize your views and sales.
It might seem like the hard part is over, but to truly drive sales through the Walmart Marketplace, you have to optimize your listings. By following these four tips, you will have a much better chance at getting products to appear in front shoppers more frequently and effectively:
1. Focus on Your SEO Efforts
To improve your listings’ chances of showing up on search results—both on Walmart’s site and search engines like Google—you need to understand the components of your Walmart listing that are tagged for search.
SEO is a critical aspect toward product listenings and adding items on the Walmart Marketplace is no different. For starters, focus on these product aspects that are tagged for search:
To maximize your visibility, it’s important to optimize each of these components for SEO–here’s how:
Your product name should succinctly describe the item you’re selling. Walmart recommends keeping your product names between 50 to 75 characters to promote readability and SEO results.
Walmart recommends following this format when entering your product name:
Brand + Clothing Size Group (if applicable) + Defining Quality + Item Name + Style (if applicable) + Pack Count
Upload multiple images to showcase each item in multiple angles. If possible, use rich content formats such as videos which give shoppers a glimpse of the product in action.
Doing so lets customers see exactly what they’re getting. In turn, this gives customers confidence in their buying decision and the path to purchase.
Here’s an example from Gerber, whose product titles and images follow the above SEO best practices:
Use your product descriptions to tell shoppers about the features and benefits of your products. For best results, write product descriptions that are at least 150 words.
To further optimize the text for SEO, make sure that the product name, brand and relevant keywords are present in the description, but don’t overdo it! The key is to integrate keywords in a natural and readable way.
Otherwise, you’ll be keyword stuffing product descriptions, which search engines like Google, highly frown upon.
In the About This Item section, add 3 to 10 product highlights or key features. This will give shoppers an overview of the product.
Call out specific product details and put the most important features first. And just like with the detailed description, you’ll want to naturally include some keywords in this section.
Here is a great example of a page with an SEO-optimized product description. It also lists its key features appropriately.
To ensure your items show up on the most relevant search results on Walmart.com, be sure to specify all the relevant attributes when setting up your products. To see which ones are relevant to your products, search for your items on Walmart.com, and check the left-hand panel for a list of attributes.
2. Win the Buy Box
In this next tip, it’s all about the buy box. If you’re products are also sold by others, Walmart will present those items one a single Item Page. This allows the customer to choose the seller when they buy.
While Walmart gives shoppers the option to view listings from other sellers, the item page will prominently display one seller’s listing in the Buy Box. And this is the section of the page that contains the Add to Cart button.
The seller that “wins” the Buy Box typically wins the sale because it’s featured more prominently on the page. For this reason, you should strive to own the Buy Box whenever possible.
Doing that involves two things:
Keep your prices competitive (including shipping): Walmart usually displays the cheapest listing in the Buy Box, so sellers with the most competitive prices win.
Have enough items in stock: Your item won’t appear on the Buy Box if you lack a healthy product stock. Monitor your inventory levels and keep them updated in the Seller Center.
To figure out if your products are winning the Buy Box, generate a Buy Box Report from the Seller Center. This report offers a bulk list of your items and shows which ones have won the Buy Box.
The report is updated every half an hour, so it can offer a near real-time view of your Buy Box status.
3. Generate a Lot of Ratings & Reviews
Having ratings and reviews dramatically increases your search results. Here at PowerReviews, we’ve found traffic to a product increases 108% after moving from no reviews to more than one review.
Additionally, when a product moves from zero to more than one review, the conversion rate increases by 65%. Needless to say, gaining customer feedback leads to a lift in traffic and sales.
To add even more good news, Walmart actively helps its sellers to get more product reviews. A few weeks after someone purchases a product, the retailer automatically sends the customer an email inviting them to rate and review their purchase.
Customers who choose to review their purchase are taken to their account, where they rate the item purchased, add comments and upload photos.
That being said, take additional steps to gain even more ratings and reviews. Aside from relying on Walmart to collect feedback, you can implement review syndication through a platform like the PowerReviews Open Network.
Our completely open network syndicates your content to more than 150 of the world’s top retailers. Also, our AI-powered Product Knowledge graph and Content Operations Team matches and moderates your content to maximize your presence on retailer sites and shopping platforms.
SEO will boost traffic and sales, but to quickly drive visits, consider Walmart’s advertising options. To further increase your listing visibility and conversions, Walmart Marketplace offers you the ability to run promotions or paid ads on its site.
How to Implement Promotions
There are two types of promos on Walmart Marketplace:
Clearance: The best option to sell slow-moving stock. Choose this promo type to reduce the original listing price.
Reduced: For savings greater than 5% for items that cost $100 or for savings more than $5 for items that cost over $100, choose reduced.
To manage your promotions, complete the Price and Promo Spec on the Seller Center. The Price and Promo Spec is a downloadable Excel workbook that lets you enter all the details of your promotion (SKU, Price, Promo Status, Promo Price, Promo Type, etc.).
How to Run Ads
Walmart lets a limited number of merchants participate in the Walmart Performance Ads Program (WPA). The feature is a self-service ad platform, which you can create paid campaigns on the Marketplace.
If you’re interested in WPA, request access by submitting the following company details to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Contact details (name, phone, email)
Number of SKUs on the Marketplace
Interest in annual plans and/or seasonal advertising
Estimated ad budget
Your approval will be determined by the Walmart Media Group, who will factor in certain performance criteria on Walmart’s website. If you’re approved, you’ll be invited to attend a training webinar.
It takes a lot to get your listings set up. The effort is worth it. We understand the challenges for brands selling on Walmart Marketplace too. That’s why we hope this guide sets you off on the right foot.
Follow these tips to create more opportunities to drive traffic, reviews and sales. All that effort is worth it, especially when you tap into Walmart’s user base.
Remember–timing is key.
The Walmart Marketplace may not be as massive as Amazon–yet. However, the company wants to increase its share of online commerce. Get in early and reap the benefits right now.
Have any tips on the Walmart Marketplace? Reach out on Twitter and let us know what works for your brand!
The consumer buying process in retail and ecommerce comes down to a single decision to add an item to their cart–but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Plenty of things are going on behind the scenes. Usually a lot of thought and actions beneath that decision are in place to encourage customers to complete a purchase.
With the exception of impulse buys, consumers do a considerable amount of research before deciding to buy. And in today’s marketplace, the brands that thrive are the ones that get in front of shoppers long before they decide to make the purchase.
How exactly can you do that?
It all starts with understanding the full consumer buying process. You need to be aware of the different stages that shoppers experience in their retail journey and find ways to win as they go from one step to the next.
Let’s have a look at what the five essential stages of the consumer buying process and what to do at every step to put your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds:
Stage 1: Problem Recognition
The consumer buying process starts off with the customer having a problem that can be solved by a product or service. This manifests itself in a number of ways.
In some cases, the shopper starts off feeling the symptoms of an issue. For example, an office worker might find their computer is slowing down, but they’re not sure of the exact problem or how to solve it.
In other cases, the problem is more straight cut. Say a woman develops blisters after wearing a pair of high heels for a full day. She immediately recognizes the problem and knows she needs something (e.g., anti-blister products or new shoes) to fix it.
Nobody: You: I need this too, right? Yeah, definitely.
There are times when consumers discover a problem they didn’t know existed. This might occur in a situation like when a driver sees an auto insurance ad and realizes they’re overpaying. As a brand marketer, you need to understand when and how the need for your product or service arises.
Ask yourself these questions:
What scenarios or incidents push people to look for your offerings?
What ways create a demand for your products?
How do you get people to realize a need you can fulfill?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you figure out what content or campaigns types to create. The ultimate goal is to engage shoppers as they move through the next stage of the buying journey. This is the consumer buying process when they search for more information.
Stage 2: Information Gathering
It might sounds simple, but once the consumer recognizes they have a problem (or symptom of it), they proceed to research to solve the issue. So, the office worker who has a slow computer might start looking for software improvements to speed things up. And the driver who’s overpaying for insurance, they’ll start searching for a way to lower their payments.
The goal at this stage is to put your brand on the radar of your target customers. There are a number of ways to do this.
The majority of consumers—85% according to a survey by Kenshoo—turn to Google when looking for product ideas and information. This indicates the search giant is still the top research tool for consumers.
To that end, you need to make sure that your brand shows up for relevant search queries. Accomplishing that requires extensive keyword research and and little help with SEO initiatives. First, you need to figure out the terms and phrases potential customers search for in Google. Then you should optimize your website accordingly.
Let’s go back to that example of the office worker whose computer is slowing down. If you want to get in front of people having that problem, start by determining the phrases most likely searched associated with those pain points.
A quick look at Google Keyword Planner shows some of the top relevant keywords are why is my computer so slow, slow computer and computer running slow.
Use this keyword information to craft content or ad campaigns for your target audience. For example, one of the top search results for the query why is my computer so slow shows a blog post from CMIT Solutions, a firm that offers IT support products and services.
The company wrote up a great article on computer slowness and what consumers can do to speed things up.
Because of that piece of content, CMIT Solutions gets in front of consumers dealing with slow computers. Additionally, this gives them a bit of an edge when a shopper decides to buy a product or hire someone for fixing computers.
Work With Your SEO & SEM Teams
However, getting to the top of Google’s organic search results is tough. This is why some brands invest in SEO teams and agencies. But it’s also why some brands think it makes more sense to invest in advertising.
Insurance companies such as Progressive and AIS are doing just that. These companies bid on keywords to show up in Google searches. And for many marketers reading, you’re likely already knee-deep in SEM and PPC (pay-per-click) strategies.
There’s no single best way to win over Google searchers. Understand if you’re altering any area of the consumer buying process, SEM and SEO could be a major area to help your efforts.
These folks help you figure out what’s best for your brand by understanding the audience and competitive landscape. Then you’ll want to craft your SEO or SEM strategy from there.
Using Online Marketplaces Like Amazon & eBay
Google isn’t the only website that people turn to when researching what to buy. According to the Kenshoo study cited above, 72% of consumers are likely to find product ideas and information on Amazon and 38% on eBay.
These online marketplaces clearly play a role in consumer’s buying journeys. So, if it makes sense for your business, establish a strong presence in these marketplaces.
Everyone wants to know how to compete with Amazon, even if you choose the marketplace route. This is why you have make sure you create product listings on these websites and then optimize them for search.
Let’s say you’re selling anti-blister footpads and want to get in front of Amazon shoppers. Doing this starts with creating a listing with a relevant title and product description.
It’s important to note, though, that marketplaces like Amazon and eBay factor in seller performance and reviews when ranking product listings, which means getting to the top of search results will take time, successful sales and positive reviews.
Just like with Google, if you want to get to the top search results faster, consider investing in sponsored listings. Paid avenues always get you to in front of eyes faster, but again, it’s critical working with your SEM team to ensure you’re targeting the right demographics and keywords.
The last thing you want to do is invest a ton of paid search money into a sponsored search without doing your research first. But when done right, you easily blend your paid content into organic results.
Ramping Up Your Social Media Efforts
Consumers spend a lot of time on social media. Research from GlobalWebIndex’s 2018 flagship report on social media discovered people spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networks and messaging.
Social is a significant component of people’s daily lives, which is why it makes sense to use these networks to connect with potential customers.
But there’s a major caveat to selling on social media. Unlike with Google, Amazon or eBay, most consumers aren’t actively searching for products on social media.
If you want to get your brand on users’ radars, create demand and convince shoppers you have products that fulfill needs they didn’t know they had. Social media ad campaigns, such as this one by Aaptiv, is a great example of this tactic
A person idly watching Instagram Stories probably isn’t thinking about working out. However, a compelling ad could be just the thing that convinces them otherwise. There’s a ton of benefits to Instagram, but it’s all about how you use visual content to connect with consumers.
Harnessing Word of Mouth
Consumers like to hear recommendations from one another. The power of word-of-mouth marketing is real, which is why we’ve seen such a spike in everyday influencers. Also, consumers research by asking their social networks for solutions and product recommendations.
This one of the reasons why word of mouth is valuable. Now, there are certain things you can do to boost word of mouth and referrals, but ultimately, the best way to get your customers to talk up your brand with their friends is to focus on customer satisfaction.
Regularly monitor satisfaction levels through surveys like NPS, CSAT and CES, and make sure that you’re hearing—and addressing—their concerns.
In doing so, you’ll find that customers won’t just buy from you repeatedly, they’ll also recommend your products whenever the opportunity arises.
Stage 3: Evaluating Solutions
After doing their research, consumers typically make a shortlist of brands or products for their needs. At this stage, shoppers look at specific solutions to their problems.
For instance, someone who’s dealing with a slow computer would be deciding whether they should hire an IT expert, purchase software that or buy a new computer altogether.
The objective is to position your product as the best choice for the shopper. Here are some of the steps you can take to influence your product in the consumer buying process:
Optimize Your Product Descriptions
Write unique and compelling product descriptions that accurately describe your merchandise while enticing people to buy. See to it that your descriptions contain the right keywords and write your copy in a tone and style that’s relatable to your audience.
In terms of formatting, make the text scannable by using shorter paragraphs, headers and bullet points.
Urban Outfitter does this quite well. In its product description below, you’ll see that the retailer’s content is short but descriptive, and the company made good use of headers and bullet points.
Use Great-Looking Visuals
Virtually any retailer needs to have strong visuals, particularly when selling online. If you want your products to be considered, you need to wow them with great-looking photos.
Also, consider taking your visual game to the next level by adding user-generated content to your product pages. Through tools like the PowerReviews Visual and Social Suite, brands easily collect, display and even authenticate user-generated content to appear on your product pages.
Take a page out of Room & Board’s playbook. Aside from having multiple product photos that showcase the store’s items from various angles, Room & Board’s product pages also feature customer-submitted images. This gives shoppers a better idea of how each item would look in real-world environments.
Leverage Ratings and Reviews
Speaking of user-submitted content, make sure your product pages contain numerous authentic reviews. PowerReviews Growing Power of Reviews report shows a whopping 97% of consumers consult reviews before making a purchase. Not having authentic reviews on your site likely causes more damage to your conversions than you think.
But with that said, simply throwing up a bunch of reviews or even going the shady route of paying for reviews on your product pages won’t cut it. Give your customers the best experience possible by keeping your ratings and reviews organized and easy to read.
Check out what Nutrisystem is doing. The review section on its product pages displays rating distributions to give shoppers an at-a-glance view of each product’s ratings.
On top of that, Nutrisystem lists the top pros and cons of each item. The company also provides the most helpful positive and negative reviews. And before you write off a little harsh feedback, consider the fact that many people prefer to see negative reviews before buying.
The same Power of Reviews report found 86% of shoppers under the age of 45 specifically seek out negative reviews before buying. Don’t discount negative feedback because showcasing your pros and cons allows customers to feel confident and trust your review display.
Shopper questions come up no matter how detailed you make your product descriptions. See to it that you have a system for fielding questions, then get back to customers with the appropriate answer.
Nutrisystem, once again, is doing an outstanding job in this area. The company has questions and answers software on its product pages that contains user-submitted questions and verified answers from the Nutrisystem team.
Having Q&A software addresses customer concerns about the product immediately. And for brands selling products across retailer pages, having limited access to answer questions on retail sites significantly affects sales.
That’s why we created Brand Engage. This solution allows brands to connect to the PowerReviews Open Network and answer customer questions about the brand specifically on retailer sites.
With badged answers, you give shoppers confidence that the product answer to their question comes directly from your brand. If you’re truly wanting to improve the consumer buying process, you can’t forget the retailers who also sell your products.
Stage 4: Purchase Phase
All your efforts led customers to choose your brand at the purchase phase of the buying journey. This is the stage when they’re ready to get the credit card and buy your product.
It’s an excellent position to be in, but don’t get complacent. You can still lose them if you don’t offer a smooth checkout experience.
Strive to make the process as quick and painless as possible. Amazon is a master at this with its one-click checkout. This lets people complete their purchase with a tap of a button.
If that’s not possible for your store, there are still a number of things you could do to successfully get shoppers through the checkout process. The key is to minimize the number of hoops that people have to jump through in order to complete the purchase.
Provide Guest Checkout
For starters, allow customers to check out as guests when buying from your site. Requiring them to create an account adds another step to the buying process, which could lead to shoppers bouncing from your site.
Pre-Fill Shopper Details Whenever Possible
If your shopper with an existing profile decides to buy from you, put their information to good use by making it easy to check out. For instance, if you already have their shipping information, pre-populate the checkout form with their details to speed up the process and limit double entry.
Sephora does exactly that for members of its Beauty Insider program.
Instill a Sense of Urgency
Another effective way to prod customers to complete the checkout process is to instill a sense of urgency. If you’re running a promotion or special pricing, for example, you could add a countdown indicating how much time shoppers have left to finalize their purchase.
Here’s an example from The RealReal.
There are plenty of A/B testing tools out there that allow you add widgets, countdowns and timers to encourage purchasing. The best part is you can test these modals with the standard checkout to see your results.
Stage 5: The Post-Purchase Phase
Finally, we have the post-purchase phase. At this point, you’ve successfully converted lookers into buyers.
Now it’s time to gather feedback. You also want to ensure shoppers remain customers for as long as possible. It’s all about retention if you truly want to increase sales. Check out a few ways you can retain customers in the final stages of the consumer buyer process:
Ask for Ratings and Reviews
The first thing you should do after a customer buys is ask for reviews. This can be done with a simple automated post-purchase email requesting for shoppers to share their feedback. Additionally, you want to get as many reviews as possible.
When shoppers buy multiple items, it’s difficult to get even one review for a single item. But using a form that never leaves another page and lets you consistently ask for reviews for all products is extremely helpful.
PowerReviews’ review your purchase features does just that. Easily collect more reviews by making it simpler for customers to actually write content and provide feedback. Again, the more barriers in the consumer buyer process, the less likely you’ll see positive results.
Measure Customer Satisfaction Over Time
Collecting feedback is just the beginning. To truly get the most out of your customers’ ratings and reviews, make it a point to analyze shopper input to gain actionable insights.
Relevant information should be routed to the right departments (e.g., Product, Sales and Marketing). This let’s your company continuously improve your products, services and positioning.
Encourage Repeat Purchases
You don’t want people to buy from you just once. As much as possible, you want to encourage repeat purchases by regularly keeping in touch with great content and promotions.
Nordstrom does a great job at this. The retailer’s email marketing calendar has a healthy mix of promotions (based on each customer’s shopping history), announcements and invitations to free and informative events.
Here’s a recent example of an email inviting Nordy Club members to a complimentary beauty and style workshops. Such efforts help keep the brand top of mind. That’s perfect when the need for new apparel or accessories comes up so Nordstrom will be highly considered.
Connect With Consumers Every Step of the Way
As you can see, retail purchases don’t just happen. Consumers spend quite a bit of time and effort before arriving at a decision. And brands that want to win sales must engage with shoppers at every stage of their purchasing journeys.
Follow the pointers we’ve outlined in each step and start customizing!