Even with myriad unprecedented events in 2020, ecommerce has grown significantly. And while many brands were already thriving online, late arrivals to the ecommerce scene are catching up quickly. Although the peak shopping season will look different this year, it’s important to prepare for an influx of excited online shoppers. Before the holidays hit, run through this checklist to make sure your brand is prepared to offer the best experience for customers.
1. Use Community-Driven Content Across all Channels
With store closures and shipping woes, consumers need additional proof before committing to a purchase. Enter: social proof or user-generated content. Before buying, people prefer to check the reliability of the brand and product through reviews, customer photos, and ratings. To increase your conversion rate especially around this holiday season, you must integrate social proof into your brand. Customers who engage with user-generated content are less likely to return products as well – which directly impacts your bottom line on this key shopping weekend.
What’s more – over 70% of shoppers already rely on product reviews before making their online purchases. Combine product reviews with visual UGC to give a cohesive look into each product and help customers make informed decisions based on existing community content.
2. Go Beyond Social With Deep Community Engagement
User-generated content can play a pivotal role in social media engagement, but its true power lies in the ability to convert brand advocates into frequent shoppers on your site. Gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, brands should look at user-generated content solutions that will still allow marketers to make content changes without code changes (especially when code freeze hits).
Looking to boost your current stream of UGC and build deeper community engagement? Organize a social media contest now so that your users feel encouraged to share the content.
3. Create Comparison Guides for Closely Related Products
While shopping in an offline marketplace, shoppers tend to move from store to store to find the best price for products they wish to buy. Similarly, you can allow them to find the best price while shopping online. You can display online comparison guides and highlight the unique features of your products to attract visitors. If users can easily access information and directly compare products (based on standard parameters), it can increase the chances of a customer buying your product. You can compare the ratings, prices, discounts, sellers, etc. of different competitive brands, but remember to highlight why your product stands unique among them.
4. Rely on Short-Form Videos
This year short videos have become the easiest way to showcase the striking features of your products. These short videos can be used to unveil new features, announce brand or product updates, promote a demo of new products, or simply share fun experiences with your brand. As an ecommerce hack, it is highly recommended that you produce and publish highly interactive videos on your social channels.
TikTok marketing and Instagram reels have opened new doors to strengthen brands’ positions in the digital space. You can either make short videos on your own to publish on these platforms or work with influencers and customers to create authentic content around your brand. Your brand can be highlighted online in front of a huge audience across the world with the help of highly engaging and interactive short-form videos – which can later be seeded across all stages of the buying journey.
5. Involve Industry Influencers
If you’re lacking on the community front heading into Q4, influencers can save the day. Investing in influencer marketing can help you build brand affinity with a group of highly-engaged and like minded individuals. In fact, influencer content can convert first-time site traffic into regular customers. From Instagram to TikTok, you can have paid or unpaid promotion for your brand by getting influencers on board. You need to give clear instructions to your influencers about how you wish to market your product and attract the audience.
According to recent research by Ogilvy, around 74% of consumers form their opinion based on the advice of influencers. High-end brand McKinsey advocated that a combination of social influencers and word-of-mouth campaigns has increased their product visibility in recent years while generating 2x sales.
6. Refresh Your Email Campaigns
Email marketing is one of the oldest ecommerce business methods to reach out to customers, and it’s still highly effective. But if your email template and imagery isn’t fresh, you’re wasting money. Using relevant UGC and influencer content combined with sales and other value-added points, your brand can drive more conversions with your existing database.
Marketing emails contain attractive captions, colorful messages, and typically assert why one should buy from this brand over another. It is wise to send emails with relevant content at specific intervals, instead of sending a huge number of emails with generic information. For instance, Old Navy launched an email campaign amid the pandemic that included UGC with customers wearing masks – a timely and well-received tactic marketers should consider in their messages.
7. Engage Users in Real-Time With Live Chat Support
Customer service online can be a huge differentiator for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers. Making communication easy and improving automatic responses can go a long way in lowering the cost of acquisition and increasing customer retention. Before the holidays hit, add a support chatbot to your brand website that can interactively respond to customer queries in real-time. Live chat support not only increases sales but also makes your customers feel heard. You can either create your chatbot or can choose to integrate Facebook Messenger, Zendesk chat, or other services.
8. Give Your Homepage Room To Shine
The homepage of your business website is the digital equivalent of your front entrance to your store. And while exit intent popups and notification requests can be helpful for retaining customers, its important that you’re testing that these features aren’t hindering the customer experience during high-site volume periods. If you’re like most markters in 2020, the budget and bandwidth for new website creative is tapped. By using shoppable UGC on the homepage, brands can harness a visually-appealing aesthetic and create a broadly personalized experience by featuring real customers.
This year, holiday shopping will undoubtedly look different. But there is room for opportunity for brands that prioritize community engagement and put their fans first. Remember, a successful ecommerce marketing strategy is the one that can induce trust in a brand and boost its credibility.
This article originally appeared in the Pixlee blog and has been published here with permission.