A good e-commerce communication strategy is vital to brand success. For many brands, e-commerce is now the default or sole way they engage with their customers. With such a wide range of options – blogs, vlogs, and every type of social media – e-commerce can be confusing and overwhelming. It’s easy to end up spreading yourself too thin and hardly reaching your customers at all.
Models such as CPaaS can help you to draw disparate forms of communication together to form an effective marketing strategy. The tips in this guide will also help you to communicate effectively and build your customer base.
Understand Your Customer Base
What exactly does e-commerce mean for your brand? You’ll want to understand this first and foremost. Consider what kind of website you should run, and what kinds of social media you should be utilizing. With so many options available, you need to tailor your e-commerce approach for the most effective customer relations.
Seek out recommendations, reviews, and experiences related to other brands in your industry. Have a look at what customers believe they’re doing right – and wrong. When marketing your brand, draw on customers’ experiences and frustrations to exemplify what makes your brand special. Customers feel valued when their experiences are at the forefront of a brand’s commercial strategy.
It’s always useful to research the demographics of your customers, and there are several ways you can do this. For example, sending a follow-up email once you have completed your service to the customer can help you to understand their likes and dislikes. Public polling is easily done over social media, too. Making your customer research visible demonstrates transparency and honesty. Above all, it shows customers that you care.
Lastly, remember that customers come to you because they’re interested in the product or service your brand provides. Show the same interest yourself on your online platforms. It’s not enough to just self-promote – demonstrate your competency and experience by showing your knowledge of the wider industry.
Share general entertaining content, invite discussion with your customers, and cultivate a clear ‘brand personality’ through your online presence. The key to successful e-commerce is marketing with your customers. The online world allows for a uniquely reciprocal business-customer relationship.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Chances are, as your business expands, you’ll have an increasing number of contact avenues for your customers. In addition to telephone and email service, you can open up to various social media websites.
It’s great to be widely available to your customers, whatever their preferred method of communication. However, it can be difficult to maintain an even level of service across so many different channels.
Train and equip your customer service team so they’re able to competently deal with a range of requests. If your team members have varying skills, skills-based routing is one way to resolve queries more effectively.
It’s also important for your team to communicate with one another, ensuring cohesion of service across various channels. You may want to consider a hosted contact center as a method of achieving this. The top call center providers will have a variety of special options to maximize your service level.
Social media can be a useful customer service channel. Customers will leverage its public-facing nature to get quick service. Keep a constant eye on your social platforms in case you’re tagged by a customer. You should aim for a near-instant response to social media customers. Responsiveness indicates to any potential customers that your brand offers great service.
Most social media platforms will also have instant messaging available. Building live chat into your own website is a proven method of increasing sales, but you should be utilizing social media messaging as well.
If your brand has a social media presence, customers will be messaging you anyway, as it’s a clearly available avenue, so you may as well be prepared. The instant back-and-forth of live chat affords the opportunity for the ‘human touch’. A few friendly emojis will go a long way.
A strong customer service infrastructure will help you give excellent service throughout each customer’s journey. This is the magic touch that tells customers how much you value their patronage, and will secure them as a repeat customer.
Spread the Word With Customer Referrals
Referral marketing should be one of the cornerstones of your e-commerce strategy. The Internet grants you access to an incredible number of customers across the entire world. The downside to this? These same customers will have access to an incredible number of competing brands. They might succumb to choice fatigue before they’ve even seen yours.
A referral is testimony from trusted family and friends with experience of your brand. Word-of-mouth referrals are a huge purchase motivator, so it’s essential to use this in your e-commerce strategy.
Social media is an easy and effective channel for this. Posts will always have ‘share’ options available – make sure these are highly visible to your customers and encourage their use. Each time someone shares one of your posts, they’re exposing your brand to a new audience.
One way to maximize referrals is to offer incentives to existing customers when they share your brand. For example, if an existing customer provides you with a friend or family member’s email address, you can reward the customer with a coupon when that person makes a purchase. Or, enter everyone who shares a given post into a prize draw. The possibilities are endless. Above all, you want your customers, both new and existing, to know that you appreciate them.
Using your product or service as a basis, cultivate a brand identity that appeals to your customer base, and emphasizes your USP. When your brand’s ‘personality’ aligns with your customers’ values, they’ll consider your brand an extension of their own identity.
This naturally leads to referrals, as your customers will be keen to share the things that are important to them. Maintain a consistent and appealing service ethos, and your customers will soon become champions of your brand.
Make the Most of Online Reviews
‘Review culture’ is a fixture of the online market. Who among us doesn’t make at least a cursory check of online reviews before trying a new brand? Sites such as Yelp and Trustpilot are sometimes wielded like weaponry by disgruntled customers, and not without reason.
The unfortunate truth is that a few bad reviews may outweigh swathes of good ones. Every single customer has the potential to make their experience internationally public. It can sometimes feel like you’re under the microscope.
Customer reviews are almost always based on the service you provide. Make sure your customers have an excellent purchase experience to draw out satisfied reviews. Customers should be able to leave reviews easily.
Ensure your brand has a presence on major review sites, and link to these in pertinent places on your website and social media. You could also send a follow-up email to customers who have purchased from you.
Unfortunately, bad reviews are inevitable as your brand expands. Whether or not they’re justified, your brand should be responding to as many bad reviews as possible – ideally all of them. This will demonstrate your transparency, honesty, and commitment to great service to your potential customers.
Resist the temptation to argue in review responses, even if the customer’s claims are blatantly wrong. Instead, invite the customer to contact you to resolve their issue. Of course, if you’re ‘trolled’ by egregiously offensive reviews, work with the host site to get them removed.
Videos as a Marketing Tool
Psychological research has shown that it is far easier for most people to process images than text. The combination of visuals and audio activates several different areas of the brain, making videos a highly memorable medium.
Videos are stimulating and attention-grabbing. They lend a lease of life to your brand’s online presence, in a way static text and images cannot. When you talk to your customers through regular videos, they’ll feel that they’re interacting with a living, breathing brand.
Live streaming is a particularly fun way to engage with your customers. As the name implies, a live stream allows real-time interaction with your customers. It’s an exciting event for your customer base – your ‘brand community’ – to look forward to. You can use live streams to unveil new products and features, answer customer questions, and discuss industry-relevant topics. For a more informative take, you might want to record a webinar. This is also ideal for informing your business partners and colleagues.
However, live streams can be fairly resource-intensive. A great deal of planning and prep is required so you’re prepared for any eventuality. It may not be feasible to host regular live streams, but you can still upload videos to interest your customers. A brand YouTube channel is a good place to collate all your video content, providing a fount of information for potential customers.
Try and maintain a regular upload schedule. Vlogs, especially in combination with a written blog, are a good way to keep your customers invested and up-to-date. As well as talking about your brand, chat about your industry in general to show off your knowledge and capabilities. You can use the editing, graphics, and sound choices to embody your brand’s personality.
Use Advertising Effectively
Online advertising is a powerful industry, and a crucial moneymaker for your online business. You should be finetuning your SEO practices, not only so you get on more people’s radars, but also to attract high-quality advertisements.
Many people groan at the thought of internet ads, their minds harking back to flashing banners and annoying pop-ups. However, while this was the norm ten to fifteen years ago, it’s possible to do so much more nowadays.
Sleek, non-intrusive ads which are relevant to your customers’ interests can enhance their experience with your website. Analyze the ‘click patterns’ of customers visiting your website so you can work with advertisers to maximize profit.
As well as hosting ads, consider how your own brand should be advertised. Generating your own helpful and informative content is one way to reach new customers. Post regular videos and blogs with brand-relevant keywords to draw customers to your content. Sites which allow you to upload your own content, such as Medium and YouTube, will help you get out there.
For paid ads, social media is a valuable tool. Promoted content on sites like Facebook and Twitter can reach thousands of viewers daily. Content on these sites should aim to enhance people’s social media use. To many people, ads are just a waste of space or time. You can stand out with ads that are refreshing, eye-catching, and entertaining.
Celebrate User-Generated Content
The Internet is a great resource for user-generated content. By spotlighting your customers’ content, you’re expressing your gratitude and making them a part of your brand’s success.
Reviews are a big source of customer-generated content. As well as encouraging and responding to reviews, showcase positive reviews on your website and in your content. Pick out reviews which are particularly unique or entertaining to give your other customers something to enjoy. Thanking the reviewer by name is always a nice touch, as well.
Social media is an excellent place to gather customers’ thoughts and feelings. On Twitter and Facebook, you can set up polls. Ask customers to vote on the background music for your next blog; for their favorite of your products; or even something totally irrelevant and fun. You and your customers get to engage with each other, and you’ll get an insight into your customers’ feelings about your brand.
Try finding out how customers are using your products, and showcase it on your social media. Ask customers to tag you in posts which you can then share. Engaging with user-generated content taps into many facets of effective customer relations. Your customers will feel valued and noticed. Their comments can help shape your brand, and your interaction brings through the essential human touch.
Focusing on the humanity of your brand and customers is the key to successful brand communication. Maintain a visible and likeable brand personality in your e-commerce strategy, and you’ll build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with your customers.
Enhance your brand’s ‘stickiness’ with memorable and stimulating content. Your competency, efficiency, and professionalism will come through, making your brand a firm customer favorite.