Ecommerce has been around for decades and the rise in mobile commerce has made selling online much easier, right?

We’ll, not exactly.

There’s still so many challenges to selling online, whether it’s more direct-to-consumer brands or competing with Amazon. Businesses must have a strategic plan to take on the competition, which is why knowing your most valuable ecommerce KPIs and how to measure them is essential to online success.

And in 2019, there’s a plethora of ecommerce tools for brands and retailers to track and measure their efforts. The way ROI is measured across the board evolves with the growth of tools and marketplaces.

For example, Instagram introduced shoppable posts and brands were tasked with not only learning how to leverage yet another powerful ecommerce feature, but how to measure success with new metrics.

The way people shop keeps evolving, so how do businesses make sure marketing efforts are moving the needle?

What Are the Best Ecommerce KPIs to Track?

The best Ecommerce KPIs (key performance indicators) should provide accurate and properly-tracked data to help businesses measure any of its core initiatives. KPIs and their corresponding metrics are an essential part of determining how well a tactic is performing using a combination of data and industry benchmarks.

If you aren’t tracking the right KPIs, it’ll be nearly impossible to get a correct reading on whether or not a campaign is hitting the target mark. However, it’s not enough just to gather this data–it must be used correctly.

forbes survey example

A report from Forbes found that 64% of marketing execs “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is essential to success. However, a study from Forrester found that between 60-73% of all data within a company goes unused for analytics.

So what’s missing here?

Let’s not beat around the bush–there are a lot of KPIs and metrics you could track, which means understanding what metrics are important to your business is tricky.

But do you need to track them all?

The short answer is no. But the KPIs you should monitor will vary depending on your goals and what you deem essential. Let’s take a look at how to determine the most important ecommerce KPIs:

KPIs That Establish Concrete Marketing Goals

Before you can figure out what to track, you need to determine what you want to accomplish. Unless you know exactly why you need to track a specific KPI for ecommerce, it’s unnecessary work on your end.

Think about your biggest marketing problems like:

  • Trouble generating sales
  • Customer drop off after first purchases
  • Low engagement rates on social media

Whatever you’re trying to improve or change, make sure it’s clear. Otherwise, you’ll have issues not only measuring the success of a tactic, but building a strategy to work toward that goal.

KPIs From Historical Data

The data you already own helps you understand how to plan for future campaigns. Maybe a tactic you thought was going to be wildly successful fell flat or you saw a spike in sales during a specific and unexpected timeframe.

Historical data helps you work on campaign forecasting. And the data from your website, past campaigns and social media channels let you plan future initiatives.

KPIs That Collectively Gauge Growth

We know the KPIs you track should directly correlate with those goals. But the thing is, there isn’t one specific KPI or metric that will tell you the full story. Instead, tracking several metrics paints a broader picture of how the overall tactic is performing.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to increase your sales numbers. What KPIs or metrics should you track? Only looking at your revenue or sales numbers isn’t going to tell you the full story or help you make decisions to improve.

You want to track the KPIs and metrics that give you a well-rounded look at your business as a whole.

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17 Metrics to Track the Growth of Your Ecommerce Business

We know the importance of KPIs and associated metrics, but which ones are important for ecommerce businesses?

Let’s take a look at these 17 ecommerce KPIs to gauge the growth of your business so you make informed business decisions and reach your goals:

1. Sales Conversion Rate

Sales conversion rate is the total number of sales you’ve generated over a period of time. To find this, take the total number of sales and divide it by the total number of sessions to your site.

For example, if you’ve made 50 sales and had 100 visitors to your site, your sales conversion rate is 50%.

This metric helps you determine, on average, how much site traffic you need to generate sales. Sales conversion rate is one of the most important metrics to watch as it can help you optimize your site traffic-generating efforts.

2. Response Rate

The Response Rate is how many customers responded to a call-to-action (CTA). It can be calculated by dividing the number of people who responded to the CTA by the total number of recipients.

CTA clicks examples on PowerReviews

This metric is important for gauging the effectiveness of a CTA, like if you asked customers to complete a follow-up survey or to sign up for your email newsletter.

Response Rate can also help you determine if there’s any friction between the CTA and your customers. For example, perhaps your survey is too long, and customers click away before completing it, or maybe it’s unclear how to sign up for your email newsletter.

3. Cart Abandonment Rate

You’ve likely heard of this metric before, and it’s not without good reason. Cart abandonment rate is when shoppers put items in their cart while on your site, but don’t follow through with the purchase. Cart abandonment is an issue for ecommerce businesses across all industries and it could be severely harming your bottom line if you don’t have the right path to purchase.

Find this KPI by dividing the total number of completed purchases by the total number of carts. Then multiply that number by 100. Let’s say there were 400 completed purchases last month and 600 carts created. Divide 400 by 600 and you get .66, which you then multiply .66 by 100 and you get 66% as your cart abandonment rate.

anthropologie cart abandonment

Calculating your cart abandonment rate is the first step in determining if your checkout process is clunky or if there’s another issue (like a lack of trust) among your shoppers.

4. Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

Have you ever wondered how much it costs to acquire each customer, whether it be through social media advertising, Google Adwords or another channel? Cost per Acquisition (CPA) will tell you exactly that. This is critical in determining the effectiveness of your paid efforts and if the ROI tradeoff is worth it.

CPA is calculated by dividing the total campaign cost by the total number of conversions. If your CPA is more than how much your customers are spending, then it’s probably time to review your current strategy. At the same time, this metric helps determine what channels need more investment, money or time.

For example, if you Facebook is a low CPA channel for you—in other words, you don’t lose money acquiring customers through Facebook—it might be worth brainstorming how to scale this channel versus others costing you more money.

5. Average Order Size

With CPA, you know the value of each customer, but what about the actual value of their orders? To calculate this, divide your revenue by the number of transactions, and you’ll see how much each customer contributes to your overall bottom line.

A great way to increase your customer’s average order size is to include an incentive for them to order more at no additional shipping cost. Offering free shipping if the cart exceeds a specific dollar amount or a buy one, get one half off deal are great ways to increase average order size.

6. Average Order Value (AOV)

The Average Order Value (AOV) helps determine the average amount spent by customers each time they place an order. This is calculated by dividing revenue over the number of orders.

For example, let’s say your store generated $10,000 in sales this month and there were a total of 1,000 orders. Divide $10,000 by 1,000 to get $10, bringing your average order value to $10 per order.

This metric comes in handy when determining the pricing of your products and overall ecommerce marketing strategy. It also helps you measure the long-term value of customers as well as their purchase habits.

7. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures how likely customers would recommend your brand to others. Instead of measuring the success of your business with revenue or sales, NPS is great for calculating brand loyalty and customer satisfaction so you better gauge how customers perceive your brand.

omnicovert net-promoter-score

This can be measured with a survey using a simple 1-10 rating scale–zero equaling “Not Likely” and 10 representing “Extremely Likely.” The scale value looks like this:

  • Shoppers who give you a 9 or 10 are considered promoters, meaning they love your brand and could be potential brand advocates.
  • Shoppers assigning you a 7 or 8 are considered passive or neutral.
  • If consumers give  you a 6 or below, these people are considered detractors or shoppers who wouldn’t recommend your products or services.

The goal with NPS is to have as high of a score as possible. If your NPS score is low, that could be causing you issues and turning potential customers away.

8. Repeat Purchase Rate

Like NPS, Repeat Purchase Rate also indicates brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Repeat Purchase Rate is simply the number of times the same shopper has placed an order over their lifetime as a customer.

This can be calculated by dividing the total number of customers who have made more than one purchase by the total number of customers. If you have a high Repeat Purchase Rate, you likely have some very happy customers!

9. Purchase Frequency

Purchase Frequency goes hand-in-hand with Repeat Purchase Rate. In fact, the overall KPI is simply the number of times a customer has made a purchase within a period—usually about a year or so.

This metric is important because it helps evaluate your customer retention strategy and loyalty. It also allows businesses to make better decisions around when to re-engage with customers between purchases and host sales to encourage shorter time in between purchases.

10. Order Gap Analysis

Much in the same aspect of the Purchase Frequency, Order Gap Analysis let’s companies see the time between two purchases from the same customer. This metric identifies trends in shopping behaviors and seasonal or product trends.

Order Gap Analysis also informs other marketing efforts, like when you should send special offers or post-purchase emails to customers.

You can calculate this by dividing 365 (one year) by your purchase frequency number. This would be the average number of days between purchases.

11. Average Customer Lifetime Value

The Average Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) represents the estimated total amount of money a customer will spend during their time as a customer. This metric tallies how much you can realistically spend on acquiring new customers as well as how much you will likely spend trying to recuperate from acquiring that new customer.

This number should always be higher than your customer acquisition cost. Otherwise, you’ll be losing money.

12. Customer Churn Rate

If you find that your Average Customer Lifetime Value is low, it probably means your churn rate is high. Customer Churn Rate is the percentage of customers that never return to your site. In other words, your customers may buy once and never buy again.

There could be many things impacting your churn rate:

  • The customer service isn’t great.
  • Your product isn’t up to customer standards.
  • Navigation is too difficult across your site.

Churn is an ecommerce KPI every company deals with. That’s why it’s essential you know where you stand so you can fix it if needed. Providing more branded content or educational content could give your shoppers the motive to continue buying from your brand.

13. Star Rating

Star ratings help customers determine the value of a product as determined by previous customers who purchased the product in question. If a product has a high star rating from customers, it’s a good indicator of quality.

The Reviews to Revenue study from PowerReviews and Northwestern found an average rating between 4.2 and 4.5 stars is most effective—even more than a perfect 5.

Room and Board Review Snapshot Example

That’s why PowerReviews’ Review Snapshot feature allows brands and retailers to customize their review features to help consumers get a better understanding of the star rating. PowerReviews also optimizes your product pages through visual content elements, which allows customers to see user-generated content of products from other shoppers.

14. Customer Sentiment Analysis

Customer Sentiment Analysis takes a look at the emotions, impressions and attitudes surrounding your brand. Each time your customers write a review about their experience with your company, it’s an opportunity to learn.

That includes experiences on your site or through social media. This metric is essential for a few reasons:

  • Businesses make more informed decisions
  • Uncovers product insights to make improvements
  • It makes your customers happy
  • Helps manage your online reputation

product pulse carry-all backpack shapshot

Unlike other KPIs and metrics, understanding audience sentiment calls for a tool that examines review content at the product level. Tools like Product Pulse allow companies to see product insights from review content through customer sentiment analysis. Easily uncover product features that need improvement so your team can make improvements for the future.

15. Organic Traffic Metrics

These metrics are probably familiar for most ecommerce SEO marketers. And while individually they don’t give too much insight into the success or performance of a campaign, collectively these ecommerce KPIs tell a larger story.

  • Clicks: This is the total number of clicks from a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) to your site. Because we’re talking about organic traffic, these clicks were generated without the assistance of paid ads.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): CTR is the total click count divided by the impression count. This metric show the effectiveness of a campaign, such as an email or social media campaign.
  • Average Position: This is the average spot the URLs on your site have on the SERPs. This metric helps determine how your site ranks and the quality of your content and website from the SERPs standards.

As a whole, these metrics let ecommerce businesses see the quality of their site and how customers navigate it.

16. Google AdWords Metrics

If you use Google AdWords, there are various ecommerce KPIs to track. However, these are some of the most essential:

  • Impressions Share: The number of impressions received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were qualified to receive. Estimated impressions qualification are collected by your ad targeting settings, bids, Quality Scores and status.
  • Average Cost-Per-Click (CPC): This metric is the average cost of one click on an ad.
  • Ad Conversions: When a customer clicks on your ad and completes the action or goal you set for that ad—like email signups or app downloads.

Together, these metrics help determine how many people saw your ad in relation to how many of those people converted so you better plan future campaigns and optimize current ones.

17. Social Media Engagement Metrics

Like Google AdWords metrics, social media engagement metrics tell a collective story of how your social media campaigns and content is resonating with your customers (and potential customers).

These three metrics can help you gauge how your content is performing overall. Of course, brands want more likes and shares on their posts, but the reality is that on their own, these metrics are vanity metrics—or ones that don’t hold that much weight.

  • Likes: This metric may be a like, a favorite, a +1, etc., depending on the platform. To calculate this metric, divide the total number of likes by the number of posts per platform.
  • Comments: If people are commenting on your posts, the content is resonating with them in some way or another. Maybe they’ve tagged a friend’s name or replied to your question, but either way, comments indicate that people are engaging with your brand.
  • Shares: Similar to likes and comments, shares help determine engagement. Sharing allows your content to go a step further and reach an audience you may not otherwise have access to.

Along with other social media KPIs, these engagement metrics paint a picture of how well your content is doing on a given channel to your target audience.

The Right KPIs Help You Measure ROI to Grow Exponentially

Understanding what the function of each metric is and how it can be used to measure success will help you grow your business and reach your goals.

It can be easy to get caught up in wanting to track everything, but it only makes sense to do so if it’s going to help you reach your objectives. Be smart and strategic when it comes to tracking ecommerce KPIs and metrics, and you’ll see results in no time.

Looking for ways to better track your storefront’s performance? Contact us today, and a member of our team will help make it happen!

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose is a writer who specializes in creating value-packed blog content for ecommerce and SaaS companies. When she's not writing, you can find her out running, checking out a thriller novel—or two—from the library, or trying to pet the nearest dog. Say hi on Twitter or check out her website katambrose.com.

What drives customers to make a purchase?

We’re not talking about the item in question necessarily, but rather what are the buying motivators that convinces shoppers to enter their credit card number and hit submit order?

Since we can’t read our customer’s minds, we’ll have to resort to the next best thing. What if there was a way to figure out why they make a purchase, so you optimize your selling strategy and make more customers happy?

Buying motivators help brands and retailers understand what prompts customers to purchase in the first place. Once you understand these nuances, it changes the way you sell to your customers for the better—both at the present moment and in the future.

In fact, Sirus Decisions found 67% of the buyer’s journey takes place digitally. That’s why it’s more important than ever to understand your customers’ shopping behaviors and why they make their purchasing decisions.

In this post, we’re taking a closer look at what buyer motivations are to marketers and how you leverage them to increase revenue and sell with more intent:

What Are Buying Motivators?

Buying motivators are the reassurances that encourages customers to go through with a purchase.  The root of buying motivators varies from shopper to shopper, but these factors help segment customers based on where they are in the purchase journey. Let’s take a look at the buying process from start to finish:

Step 1: Awareness

Every aspect of the buyer journey can be traced back to this initial stage—or when a customer becomes aware of a want, a need or a problem. This recognition could be either internally or externally motivated.

For example, your customer is going on a backpacking trip and realizes there is a hole in their backpack. The customer thinks, time for a new bag and begins their search.

Backpacks google search example

  • Pro Tip: Make sure your reviews SEO is set up correctly so you’re not only ranking on search more effectively, but also for more terms through unique, well-written product descriptions.

Step 2: Consideration

Once a buyer realizes they need to fulfill a want, need or problem, they research products to meet that need, want or problem. Gathering information about options, reading product reviews, watching demo videos and checking out user-generated content is a critical part of this stage.

At this point, the customer will likely also ask for opinions or feedback from people they trust. This might be someone who has previously purchased the product or an similar item. In fact, Nielsen discovered that 92% of people trust the recommendations of close friends and family over any other type of advertising.

herschel supply instagram backpack example

  • Pro Tip: Use Instagram to market visuals of new products and ask users to tag a friend who needs it. This helps build awareness through your brand advocates without spending a ton on social media ads.

Step 3: Decision

Finally, the buyer is inclined to make a choice regarding the product per that core want, need or problem from the awareness stage.

At this point, your backpacking customer has identified the backpack they want to purchase over another based on a variety of factors. The customer feels as though they have reached a decision in their shopping journey and can buy with confidence.

REI co-op backpack checkout example

But hold on, how did they reach that choice?

What occurred between the consideration and decision stage to move them towards making a purchase?

Customer motivation is categorized by what psychologists like to call intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is what drives us to make decisions based on our wants or needs. But extrinsic motivation is—you guessed it—the external factors that drive us to make decisions.

In the case of our backpacking customer, their motivations for shopping for a new backpack is likely a bit of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The customer wants to be prepared for the trip, but they may also feel the need to have the latest gear due to influence from an ad or a personal recommendation.

visual and social instagram collection mention example

  • Pro Tip: Give your shoppers user-generated content on your product pages to further push them to make a purchase by seeing real-life examples of the items with normal, everyday people. PowerReviews Social Collection is perfect for brands wanting to highlight their amazing user-generated content, and at the same time, increase conversion.

Understanding Customer Motivation From a Psychological Perspective

We know that internal and external motivation are two components of what drive customers to make purchases. But these buying motivators aren’t as black and white as it may seem.

For example, if you had customers A, B and C, all three could be looking to buy new shoes, but each person might have very different buying motivators behind their search.

Another school of thought designed to help brands understand buyer motivation is the VALS Framework. This framework segments customers into eight types based on psychological and demographical factors that determine their shopping behavior.

USVALS Framework Graphic

The VALS Framework also considers primary motivation (the anticipated behavior of a customer) and resources (factors like impulsiveness, leadership and vanity) when evaluating consumer behavior. Together they reveal how a customer will navigate the market as a consumer.

So what does all that mean?

Segmenting customers using a psychologically-backed method like the VALS Framework helps make sense of your customers’ behavior. This also helps you determine what products they may be interested in based on their motivations.

Rendering Intent Into Action

We know how to determine the core of buyer motivation, but what about the customer experience with your brand? Your customer experience—whether it be on your website, on social media or through other content—is critical.

But don’t just take our word for it.

A study from Dimension Data found 84% of organizations who improved their customer experience saw an increase in revenue. What’s more, a study from Walker discovered that by 2020, customer experience would surpass price and product as key brand differentiators.

Let’s take a deep dive into what pushes customers down the buyer journey.

User Experience

The user experience (UX) pertains to how customers navigate your site. But just how important is it to the overall customer journey?

A report from Magnetic North found that 1 in 3 customers will abandon a purchase because they can’t find the information they need. In other words, you could be leaving money on the table by not investing in your site’s user experience.

So where do you start?

Your customers’ motivation should drive the user experience. For example, if you’re a shoe retailer and a potential customer looks for a pair of shoes to wear in his or her commute, they’ll probably care more about durability and style instead of color.

Providing customers with search filters allowing them to narrow down options is a great way to accommodate every purchase intent. This way customers searching for sturdy work shoes can find what they want faster.

Women shoe sale asos example

ASOS, a global fashion retailer, has a great search function that makes finding that perfect pair a breeze.

Social Proof

Did you know that 90% of online shoppers research products through search engines or reviews? Also, the average retailer experiences a 20% reduction in returns for items with ratings and reviews.

What does this tell us? Social proof is a crucial component of your customer journey. Customer reviews, case studies and star ratings are a great way to build transparency and create stronger product pages.

simplisafe social proof example

SimpliSafe does a great job highlighting their social proof by using a combination of trigger words like “fastest” and “catch criminals” and visuals like a five-star review. Together, this social proof reinforces SimpliSafe’s claim to provide the best home security service on the market.

Supplemental Content

Adding content that isn’t directly shouting, “buy me!” to every customer is essential to their purchase journey. Value-packed blog posts, videos, product demos and anything else customers could benefit from helps you build trust. At the same time, it also shows customers that you want to provide them with value.

Inspo eample of content

Madewell’s blog serves as an excellent hub of supplemental content to their products. Fans of the clothing retailer can find inspiration as well as more information related to the brand and products they love, all in one place.

Visuals

High-quality imagery—both branded and product—plays a significant role in the consumer buying process. A survey from Weebly found that 75% of ecommerce shoppers feel that product photos are “very influential” when deciding on making an online purchase.

Imagery helps customers get a complete understanding of your products and what they can expect if they make a purchase. This is especially important when shopping online because customers can’t physically hold products or try them on before buying.

everlane product visuals example

Minimalist clothing retailer, Everlane, has excellent product imagery. Not only does the brand include high-quality photos of the product, but customers can see how each item fits on the model in multiple views (both standing and sitting), which adds a layer of depth to the shopping experience.

PowerReviews Review Snapshot is perfect for brands wanting to highlight every aspect of their product–from size and fit to the most common pros and cons within the reviews of the product.

evo reviews snapshot example

Not only can you add things like sizing, best uses and much more within Review Snapshot, but brands can also tailor to have as much or as little information for customers as possible. Contact our team today to see demo and how our solutions work for some of the world’s largest brands and retailers!

User Interface

Similar to user experience, user interface (UI) describes the psychological elements of decision making during the buying process. Components like color, font, buttons and icons impact the overall look and feel of your site.

Your customers buying motivators should determine the message you want to convey with these elements.

raid bug spray UI example

If you’re selling bug repellent products, like Raid, to customers who want to get rid of an existing bug problem, it’s crucial to communicate the effectiveness of your products through your branding. Keywords like “barrier,” “attack” and “control” with bold typefaces and colors reinforce the message that your products get the job done.

Understanding Buyer Motivation Means Smarter Selling

By grasping the motivators of your customers, you have the chance to:

  • Provide shoppers with information needed at the specific stage of the buyer journey.
  • Turn insights into action and optimize your site.
  • Increase online sales and boost your bottom line.

If you know the root of your customers’ buying motivators, you can focus on the tactics that yield the best results. Gain more actionable customer insights with PowerReviews. Contact us today to connect with a member of our team!

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose is a writer who specializes in creating value-packed blog content for ecommerce and SaaS companies. When she's not writing, you can find her out running, checking out a thriller novel—or two—from the library, or trying to pet the nearest dog. Say hi on Twitter or check out her website katambrose.com.

There’s no way to sugar-coat the statistics–consumers simply trust one another over brands.

But to make it easier for consumers to find trusted user-generated content, Google Shopping released its newest feature, which showcases user-generated content visuals within review content.

This new pilot program provides brands and retailers with a better way to collect and display user-generated content images for Google Shopping Ads. By displaying visuals from shoppers just like themselves, consumers are encouraged to click, buy and trust the brands they see on Google Shopping.

As the program kicks off, PowerReviews is excited to learn with Google on the power of user-generated content in reviews. With our partnership, PowerReviews will work as a trusted aggregator of data for Google.

The best part for PowerReviews clients is the pilot program is free to join and takes no action to get started. With the partnership, we simply want to provide our customers with a better avenue to display user-generated content and visuals.

Why Visuals Are So Valuable in the Path to Purchase

When consumers shop on your site, they want to trust that the product they see, is what they’ll get. By exceeding shopper expectations with visuals, you give consumers the confidence to make a purchase.

In fact, the PowerReviews Snapshot for Ecommerce report found 63% of U.S. shoppers actually seek out user-generated content and authentic “verified” consumer reviews when making a purchase. What’s even more telling is that this buyer confidence method isn’t just a younger generational fad.

PowerReviews Snapshot for Ecommerce visual content graph

The data from the same report showed while 58% of 18-29 year olds believe it’s important or very important to see user-generated content on product pages, 42% of all age demographics also agree.

No matter the type of shopper, visuals help increase confidence and provide more authenticity when its coming from previous buyers.

The Benefits of SEO & Getting Content Seen

Shoppers use Google for a lot of things. But more often than not, it’s used to find your product in the first place. And for many, the search isn’t the hard part–it’s making the decision on the actual purchase.

Kit Kat Search Results SEO product discovery example

With the new visual content display in Google Shopping, customers will be more inclined to click on ratings and reviews that include this visual content. This means your product pages with user-generated content have a much better chance at appearing in the search results.

However, with user-generated content visuals in your reviews, you also drive organic traffic numbers as visual cues increase click-through rates through SEO best practices. These visuals not only help brands and retailers drive organic clicks, but also through ads.

Giving consumers product visuals they trust helps you maximize the cost of your ad spend. This also helps you get the most out of each listing.

How It Works for PowerReviews Customers

For our customers using the Visual and Social Suite, there’s already an easy way to collect and display user-generated content across your product pages. Additionally, our post-purchase emails help collect these visuals from authentic customers while their experience is still fresh in mind.

visual and social suite SEO graphic

User-generated images are approved and published through PowerReviews. Then we automatically feed the content to Google to rank for your products on Google Shopping. After consumers click on the star ratings on a Shopping Ad, they are sent to the product listing page.

The process is easy. It allows your customer’s visual content to display with their reviews to increase confidence when making a purchase. We’re excited to learn with Google and hope you are too!

Alex York

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Alex York is the Content and SEO Marketing Manager at PowerReviews. Catch him hunting down the perfect gin cocktail in Chicago or endlessly scrolling through Netflix. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjyork.

Here’s something you’ve likely heard before–keeping the right inventory is a constantly evolving challenge. So when shoppers make it through your checkout process only to receive an out of stock email notification, you’ve essentially lost that sale, right?

No necessarily.

When one or more items in a cart come back out of stock, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. There are ways for retailers to effectively use these out of stock email messages to encourage people to come back, make a purchase and possibly even spend more in the second go-around.

The truth is retailers lose an estimated $93 billion in sales each year due to out-of-stock inventory. Whether you’re a small retailer or a multi-billion dollar retail giant, inventory mistakes happen. What matters from a service perspective is how you handle that messaging to your valued customers.

Here we’ll look at 10 out of stock email best practices to make sure you’re not only correctly communicating to your customers, but also to ensure your email marketing strategy is successfully aligned with your customers’ expectations:

1. Notify Customers As Soon As Possible

We wanted to know how quickly brands typically message a customer with an out of stock email notification. So we used our own Journey IQ data to test and uncover how long it took for some of our shoppers to deliver a message.

Data from multiple Journey IQ shoppers said they waited on average 9 to 10 days for the out of stock email to arrive. After receiving a response, the shoppers were then forced to call the retailer only to discover the product was out of stock and the order was cancelled. However, it was the quick-responding retailers that stood apart in the test.

  • In practice: “Unfortunately, the following item(s) that you ordered are now out-of-stock. Although we try our best to maintain 100% accuracy with inventory, there are rare occasions where we experience an inventory error.” (BlueFly)

2Apologize for the Inconvenience Because It Is

While the customer is always right might be a little forgiving for some retailers, it’s still essential to know where you couldn’t provide the best customer experience and to apologize for it quickly. Apologies don’t have to be long-winded or over the top.

Instead, try to delight your customers as much as possible by showing you’re responsible for the out of stock item. And it’s always best practice to try to quickly explain to customers that it’s something you’re trying to fix.

In one instance from our research, a luggage retailer not only apologized, but offered up links to alternative products, asking if either product was satisfactory, in addition to offering up a refund. This is how you take a simple apology to the next level.

3. Provide a Reason Without Making It Sound Like an Excuse

Was it a processing error? Maybe it was the item discounted by the manufacturer? Or was the out of stock email sent because you simply mixed up a new order request

Whatever the case–be honest with your shoppers. They will appreciate the truth as long as it doesn’t come off as an excuse. People prefer brands and retailers that own up to their mistakes versus companies making excuses. Always put yourself in the shoes of your customers.

  • In practice: “Unfortunately we have just been informed by the vendor that the item below is discontinued and no longer available.” (Little Dudes and Divas)

4. Offer Alternative or Similar Products

The customer may be just as happy with a similar item, so make sure you recommend products that they might want instead. This gives you a chance to avoid the loss of sale and keep your customers happy.

  • In practice: “I’m attaching an image of belt that is similar to the one you purchased that we currently have in stock. This belt is $10 cheaper than the belt you purchased, so the difference would be refunded. Would you like this one as a replacement?” (Belt Station)

5. Alert the Consumer About the Exact Refund Process

People don’t like to buy something, told it’s out of stock and then wonder where their money went. Make sure you are as explicit as possible with how your refund process works and the options (if any) customers have with their money. Additionally, include a time frame of when people can expect the funds to return.

In practice: “Please allow 3-4 business days for the refund to reflect back on your card.” (Luggage Point)

6. Provide Customer Service Contact Info & Hours of Availability

It may seem obvious, but not every retailer email our test shoppers received had clearly stated customer service contact details and hours of operation. This is a huge miss on keeping customers coming back and enjoying your business.

Provide all open channels including phone, email and the appropriate social media handles, to give the consumer the opportunity to engage in the channel of their choice.

  • In practice: “Should you require additional assistance, email us at flyrep@bluefly.com or call toll free at 1.877.BLUEFLY (1.877.258.3359). From outside the United States, please dial 1.212.944.8000. FlyReps are available to serve you Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST.” (BlueFly)

 

7. Notify the Customer as Soon as the Item Is Back In Stock

It may be that in a few short weeks, your customer will have the same desire to purchase your product when they originally tried. Reaching out with back-in-stock emails is a great customer care idea and avenue to generate more sales.

  • In practice: “You’re the first to know. This best-seller’s back in stock and ready to ship.” (West Elm)

8. Let Customers Know If the Item Is Discontinued

Items often go discontinued, so don’t leave your customers waiting to get an email notification about something coming back in stock when you know it’s never happening. This falls in line with our consistent idea of being trustworthy and honest with your customers. Don’t leave them hanging and let them know how they’ll be refunded if you haven’t already.

One of the out of stock email notifications our shoppers received explained the product was no longer available and that a full refund was added back to the buyer’s card.

  • In practice: “…nothing has been charged to your card.” (Music Store)

9. Offer an Incentive to Come Back

Whether it’s a small credit on a shopper’s next purchase, free shipping or a discount code, offer an incentive to come back. Shoppers may be disappointed by not receiving an item, but an incentive helps. A little discount can go a long way.

  • In practice: “We apologize for any inconvenience this update may cause and would like to extend an offer of 10% off any replacement item for that inconvenience. If you find another item to order in place of the original fixture, please give one of our representatives a call at 1-866-482-8321 and they will be happy to apply the adjusted price to your new order.” (Lighting Catalog)

10. Update the Status of the Rest of the Order

If the out-of stock item was purchased with other items, let them know the status of everything else. Sometimes getting an out of stock email is unsettling. Don’t put stress on your shoppers if something might not arrive.

We suggest taking this one step further and adding the carrier, a tracking number and estimated delivery date for the rest of the order–even if you already sent this information earlier.

  • In practice: “Because we cannot be sure at this time when, or if, we will be able to re-stock the item(s), we have removed the item(s) from your order. The remainder of your order will be shipped and you will not be charged for the cancelled item(s).” (BlueFly)

Follow These Out of Stock Email Best Practices

One final note–always use proper grammar and punctuation when communicating with customers. You’d be surprised at what our shoppers received in their inbox.

There were cases where retailers fumbled the out-of-stock messaging to shoppers. In several instances, our shoppers were never alerted that purchased items were out-of-stock.

In fact, shoppers had to call the retailer to inquire as to the status of the delivery. While it’s best to avoid the out-of-stock scenario completely, alert your customers correctly and as soon as possible.

See how your stores are communicating with customers when items are out-of-stock with our approach to mystery shopping with Journey IQ! Connect with our team today and request a demo!

Alex York

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Alex York is the Content and SEO Marketing Manager at PowerReviews. Catch him hunting down the perfect gin cocktail in Chicago or endlessly scrolling through Netflix. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjyork.

Your customers are smart. It only takes a simple Google search to ensure your business is legit. Shoppers know the difference between brand- and consumer-written product information, which is why they trust user-generated content and visuals.

The Snapshot for Ecommerce report found just 3% of shoppers say they never look or rely on visuals prior to making a purchase. To say visual content is essential to your product sales is an understatement.

It’s everything.

Visuals inject confidence into consumers and to be honest, shoppers prefer it over written content any day. Most people like to see products in use or worn by people that look like them. It creates a more believable story when shoppers see products in use by similar people.

The same report also discovered 88% consumers specifically seek out user-generated content, such as images and videos, from consumers like them. So how does your business go about sharing consumers’ content on your social channels, landing pages and marketing materials?

Don’t overthink it–we’re here to help.

Follow these seven steps to amplify user-generated content to build trust and tell better product stories:

1. Develop Your Story & Be Authentic With Content

If you don’t have a story for your brand, then what are you actually telling your customers?

A brand story doesn’t have to be your sales collateral, advertising materials or the story of your company’s origin. Instead, a good brand story shows customers what inspires you and doesn’t tell them what you do.

At the same time, a good brand story is short and sweet. Anything too long gets confusing or uninteresting. If you’re looking for an example, the outdoor gear company, Yeti, does a great job at promoting its customers with user-generated content who understand their simple message.

Yeti is clear about its mission: build the cooler you’d use every day if it existed. Not only do they keep it simple with #BuiltfortheWild, but Yeti easily collects content from its customers. The company works with influencers and promotes them in their own ambassador group to tell their story through user-generated content.

Brands with a simple, but influential story, gets consumers to show why the brand inspires them as well. This is an amazing perk of telling an awesome story–you drive engagement and get customers to tell their stories too.

Yeti Ambassadors Program

In a 2018 Bynder and OnBrand survey, the top marketing initiatives were customer experience and acquisition as well as brand loyalty and awareness. Tell your story and encourage engagement and loyalty through user-generated content by sharing customer voices.

Make it even easier by having a good story to tell and share with your customers.

2. Build a Trusted Community & Pick Your Space Wisely

As you develop your brand’s story, it’s also time to build a community and get the word out. Luckily for you, user-generated content helps brands increase engagement and conversations across social.

Make it as simple as possible to connect to your customers and try to spark conversations through user-generated content. This will help you increase trust by repurposing your brand advocates. That will not only showcase their personality, but affiliate your brand and customers together as a community.

It’s a win-win for both the brand and the advocate.

However, it’s just as important for brands and retailers to choose an appropriate community space. This is where you’ll drive conversations, collect content and promote your advocates.

So where do you go?

For most brands, our best bet is Instagram. Why? It’s pretty simple–data from Instagram shows almost 80% of users follow at least one brand. Build your community where you can create the most influence and where you have the best chance to drive sales.

lush cosmetics instagram engagement

A good community is about engagement, and your micro Influencers do just that.

In fact, a SocialPubli study discovered everyday influencers own an engagement rate seven times higher on Instagram than those with large audiences.

You don’t have to pay a hefty sum just to push your brand across Instagram.

Try to drive organic engagement with a community your customers will enjoy and in space they’re already present.

Visual and social suite banner

3. Encourage User-Generated Content & Promote Your Rockstars

Once you build your community and craft your brand message, make sure your advocates know what type of user-generated content to submit. It might sound simple, but if your followers don’t know what you want, what content will get?

The Big Green Egg simply asks its users what they’re grilling this weekend. More likely than not, they’ll engage or repurpose some of the better user-generated content sent their way, whether the company is tagged in content or uses #BigGreenEgg.

Prevent content collection problems right from the beginning by letting people know what you’re looking for. But don’t overthink production value too much.

Consumers like to see authentic content. When you ask for something that looks exactly like your professional product photos, it’s comes off in-genuine and unrealistic for most customers.

Further data in the Snapchat for Ecommerce report found 44% of shoppers believe visuals of a product from another customer are more credible and important than professional content from your brand. When shoppers make a purchasing decision, they want to know what they’re really getting. User-generated content helps pull back the curtains on your products.

CVS regularly posts content from a wide range of their rockstar influencers, but the user-generated content quality never seems too polished. Instead, CVS focuses on promoting a more “real life” version of its customers and products.

If you’re looking to just promote more product-specific visual content, there are some great companies to follow for inspiration. For example, Target Style focuses on the actual product in a lot of their user-generated content.

Target Style promotes their customers’ content and provides more details of the actual product. Several brands and retailers understand their visual content quality doesn’t have to be “high-res” or “edited” like in-house product images.

It’s all about creating an authentic look that doesn’t seem staged. That’s why it’s essential to be as detailed as possible when you ask for user-generated content.

Your customer base isn’t thinking like a marketer, so how will they what to send if you don’t tell them?

4. Organize Your Content Collection & Get Verification to Use It

The ideas are in place, you’re engaging your audience–it’s campaign time, right?

One big question–how do you collect and authenticate your content?

First off, did the user give you permission to use their visuals? Is the written approval from the user only in a direct message?

You can’t just take the content. That’s stealing.

It’s important to get permission before you publish anything to your own Instagram account or website. Also, a simple mention to the content owner is not enough. Many brands find out the hard way you need verification to collect users’ content.

A company appropriately collecting content is Forever 21. They collect, promote and authenticate their user-generated content through its #foreverbabe branded hashtag.

Brands and retailers need to know even when shoppers’ accounts are public or use your hashtag, you still need permission use the content! Additionally, it pays to have that agreement on record.

Collecting content isn’t the easiest task–especially when you have to find, vet, authenticate and document the process. This process often gets overlooked, which is why you can’t just rely on Instagram’s native platform to collect content.

How to Collect User-Generated Content Without the Hassle of Endless Searching

All of those steps might have you reconsidering user-generated content.

Don’t get scared off just yet.

At PowerReviews, we’ve made it incredibly simple and hassle-free to collect, authenticate and display content through our Visual and Social Suite.

mac visual and social display graphic

When our customers use our content collection tools, social and image collection improves by 221%. This also includes automatically getting the image rights and documenting the approval.

The Visual and Social Suite was built on the idea to collect your users’ best content and get authentication in the fastest way possible. Collecting user-generated content through an all-in-one platform makes it so much easier for marketers wanting to promote consumers’ visuals.

Once you’ve gathered the content, funnel these visuals to your product pages, social feeds or wherever else you want to highlight your customers. You tell better stories when you empower customer voices.

vans share your style

So make sure your content collection can display an interactive gallery on your category or homepage to increase sales. When people see these real-life visuals, shoppers feel more confident to buy.

Speaking of…

Showcase User-Generated Content on Product Pages

We mentioned it in the above tip, but truthfully, this needs its own section. The PowerReviews Snapshot for Ecommerce report mentioned earlier found when products have visuals and text within a review, shoppers are 72% more likely to make a purchase.

What’s more telling is 20% of shoppers said they would be even more likely to buy a product with user-generated content, like consumer-submitted photos and videos.

Consumers want more truthful images of your products and implementing user-generated content on your product pages increases confidence.

Say you’re thinking of buying a new pair of frames through an online-only company. All the “virtual try-on” features give you an idea of how you’ll look, but it doesn’t match the realistic view of glasses on your face.

zenni optical van alen square frames

To give more buyers confidence, Zenni Optical offers an integrated user-generated image collection display that shows customer content. With the branded hashtag #justgotmyzennis, you see the frames on people that look like you or have a similar face shape.

Additionally, the eyewear company collects a ton of great user-generated content to show shoppers on its product pages.

just got my zennis user-generated content

Some customers might’ve been hesitant to take a chance with more flashy frames. But with the image display feature on the product page, you instill buying confidence by showing the frames on people who might just look like you.

Making the path to purchase easier should always be the main goal. By providing user-generated content, you encourage and strengthen buyers’ decisions.

6. Don’t Forget to Ask for Visual Content in Reviews

We’ve covered the reasons why visual content helps people buy, but what are some other ways to collect visuals?

While social media channels like Instagram are goldmines for product visuals, so to are your customers who just bought from you. When you ask for review content from your customers, don’t forget to encourage them to add visual content as well.

We already know that at least 40% of shoppers always seek out visual content when deciding to buy, so why not collect visuals from those who just bought from you? Adding image upload buttons from social or your phone’s photo library makes visual collection simple when leaving a review.

write a review social collection powerreviews example

However, a lot of brands know it’s not easy collecting a ton reviews in the first place. And we understand that. But there are tools to get more authentic and valuable review content for your products.

For starters, it’s really important to make review submission as easy as possible. Forcing your customers to open links, click to add review text and then loading a new page to write another review is exhausting.

None of your customers really want to do that.

review your purchases example on powerreviews

The good news is PowerReviews created the Review Your Purchases feature. This lets you send customers a form that allows them to rate, write reviews and add visual content for several products–all on a single page.

Suddenly, writing reviews doesn’t seem so tedious.

This is a must for brands and retailers who see shoppers buy multiple items in one purchase. Also, our tools can prioritize specific products to the top of the review submission list so your low-rated or low-count reviews appear first.

Collect more review content by making it easier and faster for your customers to give feedback.

Verified Reviewers Matter to Your Customers

If we haven’t already convinced you, customers are often skeptical before buying. Even more so, your customers simple visual cues to let them know visuals and content are authentic.

To push authenticity further, it’s smart to designate where your reviews are coming from and who wrote the content. That’s why so many people trust review badges when inspecting review content.

flexible answering for product questions powerreviews example

Through Brand Engage, reviewer badges give buyers confidence knowing who specifically left the review and whether it was a verified buyer or from the actual brand.

Data from the Growing Power of Reviews report, showed more than 36% of shoppers believe it’s important to clarify and identify who wrote the review content, such as a verified buyer. When people know who uploaded content and wrote the review, customers feel more at ease with their decisions.

7. Start Product Sampling Campaigns

In case you haven’t noticed, one of the major benefits of Instagram is the ease of selling products on its platform. Whether it’s from a referrals or paid social ads, consumers buy on Instagram. That means there’s a lot of power in mobile sales for you.

A report from the Global Web Index found Instagram users were 70% more likely to buy a product off a mobile device versus those who don’t use the social platform. Additionally, data showed nearly 1 in 3 Instagram users have already bought on mobile.

To get more user-generated content, you have to go beyond ads and organic posts. By enabling a product sampling community, you put the items in the hands of everyday influencers to write reviews, spread the word and take pictures or videos of the experience.

Product sampling campaigns are a great way to reach more everyday users. This is especially important for brands figuring out how to have a successful product launch strategy.

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SeroVital does a great job at promoting their product with everyday influencers who can speak to their own crowds on social. The brand promotes their story with their customers and works with BzzAgent to reach a community of more than 200 million followers.

Not only do you spread the word, but SeroVital collects a lot of helpful visuals to add to its user-generated content collection. There are ways to boost your visual collections and when you do so, you tell a better story of your brand.

Looking for help to start with your user-generated content initiatives? Our team can show you just how easy it is to set up visual collection tools, so request a demo today!

Alex York

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Alex York is the Content and SEO Marketing Manager at PowerReviews. Catch him hunting down the perfect gin cocktail in Chicago or endlessly scrolling through Netflix. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjyork.

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.

new voice media infographic example

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. Have 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.

target customer care ideas

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.

Target Facebook Customer Care

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.

Target Instagram Customer Care Ideas

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.

ask target customer care ideas

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.

Email by Name Example

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.

chanel personal message example

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.

“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.

Boot Boyz Biz Customer Care Example

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.

sephora arriving soon example

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.

sephora email example

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.

reformation instagram example

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.

southwest customer care idea

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.

Nordstrom return language example

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.

Sephora class enrollment

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.

dollar shave club educational content

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.

the nordys club message

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?

Journey IQ customer checklist

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.

SMS invite for journeyIQ

Want to see a demo of Journey IQ? Contact our team today!

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.

Good luck!

Francesca Nicasio

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Francesca Nicasio is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B content for companies in the retail, technology and SMB space.

Shopping online definitely has its perks. Not only can you stay in your pajamas, but ecommerce websites make it simple for customers to find important details from ratings and reviews and in-depth product descriptions. However, shopping in person remains a completely different experience.

Why is that?

For starters, very few brick and mortar stores currently have in-store displays with reviews.

As a result, many consumers result to searching product reviews on their smartphones while standing in the store’s aisle. In fact, data from Salesforce and Publicis Sapient discovered that 71% of shoppers use their phones to research products while in the store.

In-store customers lack the same detailed information that they can access online. That’s why displaying product reviews in-store is a great way to provide customers with the confidence and information needed to buy your products.

In this post, we’ll highlight a few companies that have taken creative steps to solve this problem and share some general tips to in-store displays showing reviews:

Amazon 4-Star Stores

Unsurprisingly, Amazon sits at the cutting edge of in-store review displays. Last year the retailer opened its first Four-Star Store, primarily offering products with 4+ star online ratings.

The stores display reviews by using a small electronic tag on the shelf, updated with star ratings and prices from the Amazon website. This gives shoppers an entertaining experience, while also providing important product information.

While this appears innovative compared to most in-person stores, it still lacks the detail available online. Customers cannot read, search, sort or filter reviews the way they can on the internet.

In addition, these electronic tags appear surprisingly low-tech. They use the Kindle style “ink text,” rather than LED display, which limits the colors and graphics available for customization.

Despite the 4-star branding, the store’s primary focus is to cross-sell Amazon’s private label products and Prime subscriptions. However, every product in the store comes with immediate social proof by virtue of its high rating. Overall, Amazon’s Four Star store ranks as the most prominent in-store use of customer reviews.

Ulta Beauty Reviews Kiosks

While Amazon remains the only major retailer to design a full store around reviews, other companies also display reviews in their brick-and-mortar locations. For example, makeup retailer Ulta Beauty has seen recent growth in in-store sales, due to a revised focus on in-store technology and updated merchandising.

Ulta has also successfully installed “reviews kiosks” in its stores. These kiosks sell products with high customer reviews on Ulta’s website.

While these kiosks are rare, Ulta still does a great job using customer feedback to drive in-store purchases. Shoppers passing by these specific shelves know the products have good reviews and understand they’re quality products.

Hats off to a successful use of reviews to drive in-store sales!

Yeti

Even if your brand can’t create a review-centric store or kiosk, other brick-and-mortar stores have creatively displayed customer reviews. For example, YETI prints reviews on product inserts surrounding their coolers.

These inserts feature only one review, but still provide social proof needed to help shoppers buy the product. The company does a good job at highlighting what their customers have to say–going beyond typical online reviews.

SPAM

You might not have seen this coming, but the official SPAM museum in Minnesota also publishes online reviews in-store. Tourists and museum guests can read reviews of SPAM products prominently displayed on a large wall in the museum.

Spam’s creative customer feedback tactic helps promote their brand and its customers in a fun way.

Nordstrom

In-store apps provide yet another way for retailers to use reviews. In fact, mobile apps continue to be an integral part of the in-store shopping experience, providing customers with detailed product information while browsing the aisles.

Nordstrom has successfully incorporated its app into the live shopping experience. In addition to reviews, Nordstrom’s app features 3D visualizations of how suits and outfits would fit their prospective shoppers.

Mobile apps are an efficient way to help customers read reviews while they browse in store.

How to Best Use In-Store Displays for Reviews

Because few companies have in-store displays for reviews, showcasing any customer feedback will put you ahead of your competitors. Still, when you decide to display reviews, you’ll want to be smart about it, so follow these tips:

1. Draw Attention to the Reviews

Like the proverbial tree-in-the-woods, if you display reviews in-store but no customers read them, it won’t do much to improve sales. Amazon Four Star stores do a great job of ensuring customers notice the reviews- even the name of the store highlights reviews!

Because many stores don’t use reviews, drawing attention to the reviews helps your store stand out from its competitors. Along similar lines, the Ulta kiosks also attract shoppers to the in-store reviews.

The large kiosks look different than the rest of the store aisles, helping to make sure customers notice the products with reviews. For in-store review displays to have any impact, you must make the displays visible and noticeable.

2. Keep Review Content Fresh & Up-to-Date

When shopping online, your product reviews will update automatically. But for in store, updating reviews requires a bit more thought. It doesn’t do your shoppers any good to see outdated reviews left a few years ago.

updated reviews example at Amazon

Also, as you begin selling new products in your store, you will want to have updated reviews. Making sure the reviews are current and up-to-date should be a priority for your in-store reviews.

One way to update your in-store reviews is to use digital shelf labelling, like Amazon Four Star and now even Walmart. This technology is relatively new and few stores have started implementing it, but does present an easy way to automatically update in-store reviews.

The digital labels can link up to the products online PDP, keeping the in-store star rating current. If digital labels don’t work for your store, it is still worthwhile to make a conscious effort to update the physical review displays.

However, if you find yourself rarely updating the reviews of a given product, that can work as a good reminder that this product needs more reviews, perhaps through a product sampling campaign. For these reasons, it is important to maintain and refresh the in-store review displays.

3. Use Both Summarized & Individual Reviews

Posting an aggregate review total (the review summary, such as “4.6 out of 5 stars, 1,132 reviews”) is the most important part of your review display. Customers want to know both a general product rating and the number of people that have left reviews.

In addition to the summarized rating, showcasing individual reviews is a great way to engage with your customers. Highlighting a basic “nice product, I liked it” review probably won’t have much impact.

criquet online review example

However, displaying a creative and amusing review allows your customers to brag about your product for you. For example, Criquet Shirts profiles this Masters-themed review on its website- and could easily do the same in-store.

Main Takeaways

While collecting online reviews is par for the course in e-commerce, not many companies use  review content in their physical stores. A few leading retailers- like Amazon and Ulta- have taken strides in displaying reviews in-store.

Other brands, including YETI, SPAM, and Nordstrom, also are innovative in the way they share reviews. When using your reviews in-store, it helps to make reviews the center of attention. Likewise, it’s important to update the review displays with your most recent content.

In addition to displaying the aggregate review total, highlighting a few specific stand-out reviews works as a fun way to engage with your customers. Overall, in-store displays represent an exciting untapped area that retailers will increasingly take advantage of in the coming years.

Ben Tannenbaum

Ben Tannenbaum

Ben Tannenbaum works on the Renewals and Account Management team at PowerReviews. He is always happy to grab a spot of tea and chat about current events, books, baseball or Big Ten football.

When’s the last time you stepped into your customers’ shoes?

Because sure, you probably might know what your ideal customer looks like. But what about the customer journey that results in your repeat, loyal shoppers?

Listen: consumers today are bombarded with marketing messages like never before. This recent retail study from Marketing Charts is just another reminder of how many ways customers discover brands, most of which stem from word-of-mouth.

Marketing Charts graph in consumers learning about brands

The takeaway here? There is no “single” or “correct” path to purchase to win more sales. And while businesses obviously have multiple ways to move people from prospect to customer, it’s easy to overlook the importance of customer journey mapping.

In this guide, we detail how to create a customer journey that makes sense, resulting in more conversions and fewer leads falling out of your funnel.

Why the Customer Journey Matters So Much

At a glance, customer journey mapping much might just seem like another item on your seemingly endless to-do list of marketing tasks. However, consider that understanding the customer journey (and touch points along the way) are among some of the top challenges of modern marketers.

According to a recent survey by SmartInsights, 44% of businesses struggle with getting a holistic view of their customer interactions. The same study noted that 40% of marketers have difficulty creating a consistent experience through the customer lifecycle.

smart insights graphic

Putting your customer journey under the microscope can make these challenges much less daunting. If nothing else, doing so can help you identify weak points in your funnel and give your conversion rates a much-needed boost.

What Does the Customer Journey Look Like?

Here’s a snapshot of how new and current customers might experience the customer journey:

New Customer A New Customer B
  • Hears about your brand from a friend or relative
  • Googles and clicks around your site
  • Reviews your site, but doesn’t make a purchase
  • Sees a Facebook sponsored post featuring a discount for first-time customers
  • Clicks through the social ad and makes a first-time purchase
  • Sees you mentioned in an influencer post featuring a promo code
  • Checks out your brand’s Instagram
  • Scans through your feed–featuring other user-generated content
  • Clicks your Instagram bio link–leading to your store and makes a purchase using the influencer’s promo code

 

Return Customer A Return Customer B
  • Receives a promotional email for a 24-hour sale, but doesn’t click through
  • Scrolls through Facebook and sees your brand mentioning the sale again
  • Clicks through your promotional link–leading to your store and makes a purchase
  • Shares their latest purchase from you on Instagram
  • Gets featured in your Instagram feed weeks later
  • See another promotion from your brand
  • Clicks your Instagram bio link–leading to your store and makes a purchase

And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s possible, especially if you run a brick-and-mortar store in addition to your online presence.

The unpredictable nature of the customer journey and myriad of available marketing channels isn’t necessarily a negative, though. Consider the old-school marketing “rule of seven” which states you need to make seven touch points with someone before they’re ready to buy.

Having multiple avenues to reach and convert customers is absolutely necessary. The customer journey is rarely linear. That said, you likely have a variety of paths laid out for people to discover and purchase your products, right?

You run ads campaigns and promotions. You have your marketing channels prioritized. But how do you bridge the gap between how people find you and how you want people to find you?

The short answer is customer journey mapping.

The Art of Customer Journey Mapping

Mapping the customer journey starts by breaking it up into various stages. Based on these stages, you clearly assess which parts of your funnel need fine-tuning and likewise, what’s already working.

Looking at your funnel piece-by-piece also encourages you to look at your marketing campaigns as a series of paths rather than something that’s just sort of “there.”

Below we’ve broken down a five-point funnel framework that applies to just about any business.

Part 1: Awareness

This is where you’re dealing with top-of-funnel leads. In other words, folks who are in the learning stage about who you are, what you’re selling and whether or not they need your product in the first place.

Ask yourself: how are you putting yourself out there to people in the “just browsing” phase? What does your discovery phase look like and how do they find you?

For some, it might be through product listing ads based off of a Google search.

compact tents google search

And for others, it might be a piece of content or advertising which breaks down their search “at a glance.” Sometimes it takes general statistics to get people to understand what you do.

If you haven’t figured out your customer engagement strategy, it’s high time to do so. But make sure you focus on the first step–awareness, before getting too deep.

Here’s an awesome example from Home Chef (with over a million views to boot).

Part 2: Consideration

This is a critical funnel phase that’s easy to overlook. How do you stack up against the competition when people are faced with an “either-or” choice?

This signals the importance of having a repository of customer reviews. Some studies suggest 95% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase.  In fact, 20% of shoppers say they’ll leave for another brand or retailer site if there aren’t reviews (or enough reviews) on-site.

Whether it’s a Google search or side-by-side comparison features like what we see on Amazon, having star-rating and social proof is a major point in your favor.

Amazon Headphones Search

This is where a tool such as PowerReviews for Ratings and Reviews is a game-changer. Aggregating your product’s positive feedback, you put your satisfied customers front-and-center to reel in more leads while they’re in the research phase.

vans ratings and reviews graphic

With our Social Collection tools, along with ratings and reviews, you make the consideration process a visual experience. Providing user-generated content on product pages helps give potential consumers visual cues into what exactly they’re getting–and not from just your brand, but other trusted shoppers.

Going beyond reviews, remarketing ads that target former site visitors can serve as your “second chance” to someone who might have looked you up but failed to convert. Facebook cites a ton of success stories such as Brassy Bra who dramatically lowered their cost-per-acquisition while upping their conversion rate via remarketing.

Brassy Bra Facebook example

Part 3: Purchase

Let’s say that you’ve won someone over and they’re ready to buy. That doesn’t mean that your job is done. Not by a long shot.

The purchase phase has many moving pieces that oftentimes fly under the radar for brands. Consider that the average cart abandonment rate still sits around 70% in 2019. Someone might have the intention to buy but that doesn’t mean that they’re a “sure thing.”

For starters, a high-converting purchase page loads quickly and is easy to navigate. According to Unbounce, there’s a direct correlation between laggy sites, lower conversion rates and higher bounce rates. This is why effective SEO on product pages is critical.

Julian tables search

At the same time, it’s important to include elements on-site that’ll boost conversions. This includes star-ratings, user-generated content and, you guessed it, product reviews.

Room and Board’s product pages are a prime example of what we’re talking about. A variety of product photos and interactive content helps seal the deal with customers who might be on the fence.

Room and Board Last Consideration

Meanwhile, the wealth of reviews help customers better understand the in’s and out’s of a product. PowerReviews Review Snapshot aggregates the most important key terms for customers to help them make informed decisions.

Room and Board Review Snapshot Example

See how that works?

Part 4: Retention

Remember: the customer journey isn’t over when someone makes a purchase. Your end-game should be to turn customers into enthusiastic brand advocates for the long-term.

The good news? Doing so might be easier than you think. Data shows 48% of shoppers say they start the path of purchase with a brand or retailer website because they’re a previous loyal customer.

If you’ve created a seamless experience so far and likewise deliver an awesome product, you’ve already done the “hard part.” Now it’s your job to make frequent, relevant touch points with former buyers.

Revolve Sale Example

This might include email offers and newsletters exclusive to your followers. See how Revolve entices their shoppers with bold and flashy sales messages?

You could also go the route of social promotions and remarketing ads. Here you can specifically target past customers (like this example from Smallwoods).

Smallwoods facebook example

Oh, and don’t forget loyalty programs that encourage customers to return to your storefront time and time again. Creating a sense of community and rewarding your customers for always coming to you is a great way to build better B2C relationships.

For example, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program incentivizes repeat business with free gifts and other perks for sign-ups. What better way to make sure you’re retaining as many customers as possible!

Kat Von D Beauty Customer Message

Experimenting with different customer retention strategies clues you in on how to keep folks in your funnel for the long haul.

Part 5: Advocacy

The end-game of your customer journey should be to create brand advocates that help guide others through your path to purchase. That means encouraging people to share their latest purchases and positive customer feedback on a consistent basis.

For example, brands like Skechers show love to their followers with giveaways and opportunities to be featured in their Instagram feed.

Skechers instagram feed

Those featured customers also have a chance to be featured on-site in their lookbook. This makes sharing content a breeze with simple advocacy tactics.

Share your style with skechers example

And of course, happy customers should be empowered to highlight their positive experience with your brand. PowerReviews helps brands and retailers get more product reviews and through it’s leading review collection capabilities. This helps businesses showcase more product details and consumer feedback to others on their own customer journey.

skechers review snapshot

The customer journey then comes full circle as one customer’s experience leads others to discover your brand themselves.

How to Make Sure Your Customer Journey Makes Sense

Now that you understand the steps of your customer journey, it’s time to figure out what’s working and what’s not. Because all of this stuff is kind of theoretical, right?

You have these marketing tactics in place, but how do you know if it actually clicks with people? What better way to figure it out than by sending actual shoppers through your funnel and to gather real customer experience feedback.

Journey IQ customer checklist

That’s the benefit of working with a mystery shopping program like the one we offer at PowerReviews. With an emphasis on customer experience, Journey IQ helps complete the customer journey by diving into the in-store experience consumers encounter when shopping from you.

There’s no replacement for feedback from flesh-and-blood shoppers, and PowerReviews does the hard work of curating that feedback for you. Through Journey IQ, we send your loyal shoppers on missions to uncover in-store insights all through their mobile devices.

SMS invite for journeyIQ

You collect, aggregate and analyze the feedback–and instead of paying the typical hundreds of dollars per mystery shopper, you simply reward these customers with a discount for their work. This allows you gain more sales when they shop from you and incentivizes shoppers to give you feedback for a discount!

Pinpoint what channels you should prioritize, which products people love and weaker points in your funnel. It’s a full circle journey to understand every point for your customers. Luckily, there’s some pretty simple steps to follow to help you get more sales and higher conversion rates.

What Does Your Customer Journey Look Like?

If you want to create an engaging experience for your shoppers, you need to break down your customer journey.

Although customer journey mapping might require some legwork up front, it’s totally worth it in the long-run. With so much competition in any given retail space, doing so is key to maximizing the value of your customer base.

With the help of tools such as PowerReviews, you can make a more positive impression on would-be customers and keep the ones you have happy.

Brent Barnhart

Avatar

Brent Barnhart is a professional writer and content critic. When he’s not battling the latest buzzwords, you can often find him strumming the nearest guitar. Feel free to bug him on Twitter or check out his website brentwrites.com.

There are a ton of unique ecommerce companies that make up the online shopping ecosystem. From custom embroidered shoes to rare board games, it seems like there’s a market for just about every niche.

But what’s one issue all ecommerce brands and retailers have in common? Cart abandonment rates.

A study from Baymard found only 1 in 4 customers complete a purchase. This means the average cart abandonment rate is roughly 68%. That’s a lot of cold feet.

Here’s the good news–solving cart abandonment isn’t rocket science. But to know how to stop cart abandonment, you need to fully understand why it occurs in the first place.

What Is Cart Abandonment & Why Shoppers Leave

Cart abandonment is the consumer process of digitally adding an item(s) to an online cart and leaving the website without ever paying or finalizing the order. But the reason shoppers leave isn’t just due to indecisiveness.

According to Statista, 56% of shoppers left their carts due to unexpected costs, like additional shipping or taxes. What’s more, 36% of customers left after finding a better deal by comparing prices and 25% said it was due to a poor navigation experience.

The list doesn’t stop there. Consumers have several several reasons they close their tab before making a purchase. But these reasons are all saying the same thing–companies must make customers feel secure, empowered and confident about their purchase.

So how can brands do that? Let’s take a look at 16 ways you can effectively limit cart abandonment on your ecommerce site:

Ratings and reviews partner banner

1. Eliminate Cost Surprises at Checkout

There’s no better way to scare customers away than adding surprise shipping costs or extra fees at checkout. One of the top reasons why customers abandon their carts is due to unexpected costs, so why not be as transparent as possible from the get-go? Limit cart abandonment by being honest with much customers can expect to pay before they click “order.”

So what’s the best way to approach this?

Shipping calculators are great to immediately show how much customers can expect to pay for shipping and other associated fees. Depending on your ecommerce store builder, adding a shipping calculator to your product pages early in the checkout process gives information on fees up front.

woobox shipping rate example

Price calculators work well at showing fees the second an address is included like this example of one installed on a WooBox storefront. Some ecommerce site builders, like Shopify, have shipping calculators built right into store themes to make things super easy.

 

Get Shipping Estimates Website Example

Others, like Square Space, allow you to enable shipping calculator features within the settings of your storefront to limit any confusion with your customers. The bottom line is to be crystal clear with any additional fees associated with your product to avoid scaring away customers.

2. Include Thumbnail Images of Products in the Checkout Window

It’s not likely customers forget what’s in their shopping cart—unless they’ve gone on a massive shopping spree—but why not make it easier to remember? Having a visual reminder of their items in the cart serves as a way to reaffirm what they’re going to buy.

This checkout page from Madewell is an excellent example of leveraging thumbnails in the checkout window. The customer easily sees each item and other relevant details like color, size and quantity.

madewell checkout example

Shoppers can check that the right items are in the cart, which also allows them to easily review products visually. This might make the difference between a customer solely focusing on a large cart total vs. a long list of awesome products they’re going to get.

3. Highlight Customer Savings in Real Time

A great way to encourage customers to convert is to show them how much they are saving while shopping. Whether it’s from a sale, promo code or discount from a VIP program, shoppers love to see what they’re saving.

This checkout window from the women’s athletic clothing line, Fabletics, does a great job of showing savings in real time. Customers see the regular price of the item as well as the price they pay as a VIP member.

fabletics shopping cart example

In addition, this checkout screen shows shoppers other items where they might qualify for a discount as well. In this case, the consumer not only gets a discount, but a two-year subscription to Midwest Living.

This shows added value and reinforces the notion you’re providing them with as much value as possible. But the retailer doesn’t stop there.

Fabletics also shows customers what they could save on additional products. This helps encourage consumers to add more to their shopping cart before checking out.

fabletics VIP checkout discounts

This brand does a great job of being transparent with shoppers while simultaneously encouraging additional purchases.

4. Offer a Guest Checkout Option

There’s no arguing that checkout processes are a great way to collect customer data. But is it worth it to potentially lose customers over? Well, Invesp found 14% of shoppers will abandon their cart because there is no guest checkout option.

invesp infographic of abandon shopping cart stats

By making checkout as easy as possible for customers—meaning they make a purchase without additional steps to create an account—you increase the likelihood of them converting.

Urban Outfitters gives shoppers the chance to choose if they’d like to create an account or complete their purchase via the guest checkout option.

urban outfitters guest checkout example

With this method, Urban Outfitters is still able to collect customer email addresses, which can be used for future campaigns. Sacrificing a bit of customer data in order to make things easier for your customers may prove to be worth it.

5. Limit the Number of Steps in the Purchase Process

This seems like a no-brainer, but make your checkout process as easy as possible to reduce customers bailing at the last second. A Statista report found 25% of shoppers abandon their carts due to a confusing navigation.

Amazon’s checkout window is not only easy to understand, but it’s simple to make changes within the cart. Each stage of the buying process is clearly outlined for customers, which eliminates confusion and cart abandonment.

amazon checkout example

So what’s the best way to adjust your purchase process?

Look at your current checkout screen and identify anything that could be streamlined or eliminated. Consolidate the number of screens shoppers navigate through to buy.

If this isn’t possible, an order progress bar is a great way to visually show customers their process. Lastly, include any relevant information on the final checkout screen before they place their order. The last thing you want is to leave out important information and increase the likelihood of more product returns.

6. Create a Shopping List Feature

It’s normal for customers to be unsure when in the path to purchase, especially at the beginning stages. In fact, an additional Statista study discovered 17% of customers abandon carts because they plan to purchase at a later time–not because they don’t want to buy.

A great solution is to implement a wishlist or “save for later” option that gives shoppers the opportunity to return to lists later on—like when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Amazon Save for Later Option

If you want to compete with Amazon, take a page from their book and allow consumers to create wishlists or add items to a list all within the cart. Let customers share lists with friends too, which makes it really easy for wedding and baby registries.

Lists are also a great opportunity to collect data on customer shopping behaviors. With that information, you can send post-purchase emails and promotions regarding certain products. You could also jump on the opportunity to reach out to customers and see if they have questions.

7. Leverage Retargeting Campaigns

It’s time to put all that customer data you’ve been collecting to good use.

Retargeting is a great way to re-engage customers and encourage them to convert. It’s arguably one of the best tactics for brands to use to resonate with customers.

But what is it exactly?

Neil Patel gives a great break down here, but essentially, retargeting is a tactic that shows customers relevant offers based on their behavior online. So if a customer visits a product page on your website then clicks off the page, you can use retargeting to remind them with an attention-grabbing ad.

Facebook is a great way to make retargeting an easy part of your cart abandonment strategy. Using the Facebook Pixel, you can collect customer data through your website or app activity which can then be used to create a retargeting ad.

You can also use customer contact information for retargeting campaigns too. Remember those email addresses you collected with your guest checkout feature? Retargeting is a great opportunity to use those emails.

Glossier Product Page Ad Example

This ad from Glossier is a great example of the power of retargeting. The makeup brand used video to re-engage with customers.

For example, this is where a customer goes to the site and views a product. But in the image below, this is what a customer sees on a Facebook ad for the same product they viewed previously on the brand’s website. The connection is seamless and simple.

Glossier Facebook product Ad

Glossier used retargeting to show customers another side of the product. In this case, they used a video of a model using the product, which is more engaging than a static image. This ad also includes two calls-to-action—one on the video screen and a button below the video—which gives customers more opportunities to click.

8. Increase Trust During the Checkout Process

Even in 2019, some customers are wary of entering credit card information online–especially if you’re a new or upcoming brand. Online privacy concerns are at a high, which is why it’s not surprising that 15% of customers report a lack of security at as a cart abandonment reason.

However, there are a few ways to make consumers feel more at ease when purchasing products online:

  • Security logos: Include the logos of trusted, secure payment sites to reassure customers that your site is legitimate and safe.

security checkout example

  • An SSL Certificate: SSL certificates are small data files that bind a cryptographic key to a site, which ensures a secure connection whether it’s for a credit card transaction or for transferring data.

Both of these measures make customers feel more confident their information won’t be compromised and that checkout is secure.

9. Offer Various Payment Options

We know the easier the checkout process, the more confident the customer feels making the purchase. Offer multiple payment methods to fuel that feeling.

With more payment options, customers make the decision that’s easiest for them–whether it’s a credit card, PayPal, Amazon Pay or Apple Pay. Convenience is critical for payments.

Various Payment Methods in shopping cart example

Also, offer payment plan options for higher-priced items to get customers to convert as well. Paying a fraction of the cost up front may be easier for some customers, especially if they really want the item.

10. Be Creative With Cart Abandonment Emails

Cart abandonment emails are a popular tactic for ecommerce brands. And when done right, they yield great results. In fact, BigCommerce found recovery rates in shopping carts have gone up by as much as 36% with compelling content and higher open rates.

But how can you make these emails stand out among the sea of emails your customers receive daily?

A great way to make your cart abandonment emails stand out is to highlight highly-rated  items in their cart with ratings and reviews and quality product imagery. PowerReviews makes it easy for brands to collect and display customer reviews in an engaging way to encourage purchases, which can be used in these emails.

Adidas Email Cart Abandonment Example

This cart recovery email from Adidas is simple, yet packs a punch with product imagery and clever copy. Adidas gets consumers to read reviews from other customers and it’s easy to click back to the cart and convert–thanks to the two call-to-action buttons.

11. Identify Gaps in Your Checkout Process

Your checkout process matters more than you may think.

If you’ve noticed a major spike in your cart abandonment rate, it’s a good idea to audit your existing checkout process. An audit allows you to identify any areas of your process that could be improved or adjusted to help the customer along.

A separate study from Baymard found that website errors or crashes accounted for 17% of customers who left their carts. While auditing your process, keep the following in mind:

  • How long does it take to checkout with your current process?
  • Is it clear what items are in the cart as well as what the total cost is with additional fees?
  • Is there anything that could spark a potential issue for a customer?

12. Provide Every Product Detail

Shoppers need confidence in their purchases, which is why you have to provide them with everything about the product. Without being able to physically touch an item before buying, it’s up to the ecommerce site to provide thorough product details to consumers.

This is why PowerReviews provides a customizable Review Snapshot. You simply choose the features you want on your product pages, like Size and Fit, Pros and Cons or searchable question and answers.

vans ratings and reviews graphic

Additionally, our Social Collection features allow brands to showcase user-generated content from your own shoppers, so consumers get a better idea of exactly what they’re buying. Make your shoppers confident in their purchases by giving as much product information as possible.

13. Build Stronger Product Pages With Online Reviews

What better way to make your customers feel more confident about their purchase than with product pages that go above and beyond? Product pages packed with customer reviews, honest ratings, product details and high-quality product photos can be the difference between customers converting.

Reviews, in particular, are an excellent way to further establish customer trust. According to BigCommerce, the more reviews you have, the higher your conversion rates. In fact, you could see an increase as much as 4.6% just by adding 50 reviews to a product’s page.

room and board page graphic from powerreviews

PowerReviews customer Room and Board found similar success by leveraging reviews on their product pages. The retailer saw a conversion rate increase of 95%, which was attributed to customers reading reviews or Q&A sections of the product pages.

What’s more, 30% of sales have come directly from reviews—both online and in store. Customers trust the opinions of other customers. Again, transparency on product pages helps solidify a customer’s trust in you.

14. Make It Easy for Customers to Contact You

Another excellent way to build trust with your customer is to make it easy for them to contact you in case they have a question about a product or their order. Live chat bots especially can reassure customers that you’re only a quick chat away.

This boutique women’s clothing shop uses a live chat widget to make it easy for customers to get in touch at any stage of their journey. The button is discreet, so it’s not interfering with the shopping experience.

Roolee Chat Example

This chat feature is also readily available in case customers have a question about sizing, price, discounts or shipping. That’s why it’s smart to opt in for good old-fashioned email and ticketing customer service to tackle shopper questions and issues.

However, if you decide to structure your customer service process, make it clear how you can be contacted. Bonus points to you if contact information in the checkout window and in order confirmation emails is included!

15. Invest in Mobile Checkout

Here’s some online shopping statistics to consider–nearly a quarter of online purchases are made through mobile devices and 90% use mobile devices to help make a purchase even in store.

What’s worse? Data from Adobe showed only about half of landing pages were set up properly for mobile. If you’re not convinced about the power of mobile, you’re probably not seeing a lot of sales here in the first place.

Let’s fix that.

Easy to navigate mobile checkouts are a great way to limit cart abandonment. Make sure buttons are large enough to click and clearly make sense.

pga superstore checkout example

PGA Tour Superstore does a great job at highlighting the checkout button on mobile at the top of the screen and allowing shoppers to buy online, pick-up in store or home delivery. Additionally, they give their CTA plenty of space to alert buyers of orders that earn free shipping.

16. Invest in SEO

SEO is quickly becoming synonymous with everything marketing and appears on resumes about as much as experience with Excel. All the talk about SEO makes some businesses hesitant to fully invest.

However, SEO for ecommerce is essential to limiting cart abandonment. How? For starters, it’s all about page speed. If you’re using any sort of third party product, even say PowerReviews, we’re going to add code to your landing pages, and SEOs will not like that.

MAC Search Results with SEO seller ratings

With so many scripts, it can significantly slow down page load speeds, causing abandoned carts. But with PowerReviews intelligent script loading, we only add the code you need for each of our features.

This significantly limits the amount of script on your site and can help limit any page speed problems, making SEOs very happy. Additionally, SEOs will help you keep your product page content filled with the appropriate keywords.

Rank for more long-tail keywords and increase your overall reach on search engines with better SEO strategies.

Cart Abandonment Is a Solvable Problem

Reducing cart abandonment rates boils down to testing different methods to see what’s best for your brand and customers. You customers are at varying points in their buying journey, so creating a checkout process that makes them feel confident and secure can make all the difference.

Looking for a way to reduce your cart abandonment rates with customer reviews and ratings? Reach out today and connect with one of our experts!

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose

Kat Ambrose is a writer who specializes in creating value-packed blog content for ecommerce and SaaS companies. When she's not writing, you can find her out running, checking out a thriller novel—or two—from the library, or trying to pet the nearest dog. Say hi on Twitter or check out her website katambrose.com.

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.

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.

nutrisystem customer stories examples

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.

sleepingbaby brand story

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.

nutrisystem brand story

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.

modcloth customer story

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.

married in modcloth customer story

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:

Visual and social suite banner

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 reviews snapshot example

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.

visual and social display Room and Board example

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.

That’s huge.

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.

influencer and sampling suite advanced targeting example

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.

SMS invite for journeyIQ

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.

Journey IQ customer checklist

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.

thirdlove customer story

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.

francesca's customer reviews

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.

the north face instagram bio

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.

instagram story contest from Shine

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.

athletic greens customer story

 

  • 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.

belly bandit customer stories website example

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.

Turn Customer Quotes Into Shareable Images

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.

Use Email to Showcase Stories

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 email customer story example

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!

Francesca Nicasio

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Francesca Nicasio is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B content for companies in the retail, technology and SMB space.

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