Maximizing E-Commerce: How Online Retailers Can Turn Last Year’s Growth Into Sustained Future Success
After the onset of COVID-19, the world was abuzz with how the retail industry would fare. There were early signs that online shopping was surging, but nobody expected e-commerce penetration to grow by 27 percent in only eight weeks.
Looking back at an unprecedented year for online retail sales, there are other trends that we didn’t see coming. Even amid all the noise from brands vying for consumer attention and email send volume jumping 40 percent, consumer engagement didn’t waver. In fact, consumers were hungry for interaction.
Consumers’ willingness to engage sets a hopeful tone for the future. Moreover, many brands gained consumer data, larger subscriber lists, and behavioral insights in the last year. However, there's still room for retailers to build on sales in 2020, and drive even greater revenue growth. How? The key lies in fine-tuning identification and acquisition strategies, nimble outreach via broadcast campaigns and behavioral triggers, and leveraging active personalization.
Getting Strategically Assertive With Site Visits
The first step to increase engagement and leverage consumer data requires a deeper understanding of new site visitors. With consumers predominantly shopping online, there's an opportunity to capture valuable data and grow subscriber lists. To date, retailers still struggle when it comes to identifying site visitors. In fact, 98 percent of all site visitors are anonymous.
How do you bring new visitors into the fold and identify returning ones? The answer is two-fold: become strategically assertive in capturing information, and provide recommendations and targeted offers. Capturing consumer information shouldn't end with an email collection option on the homepage. Useful, undisruptive and visually appealing information capture pop-ups should follow consumers. By grabbing attention and continually prodding, visitors will input information and allow retailers to recognize returning shoppers and build more effective active subscriber lists.
The same applies for recommendations and promotions. For example, if a user has clicked on a specific jacket before switching to browse T-shirts, a useful pop-up would recommend a similar jacket as he or she peruses through other items, ultimately aiding the shopping experience. Promotion pop-ups can also drive information capture as they entice consumers to self-identify and purchase. In order to identify consumers across digital touchpoints, brands need to strategically encourage self-identification.
Fine-Tuning Behavior and Broadcast Marketing
This year, brands will continue competing for consumer attention, with broadcast campaigns and SMS emerging as key channels. To stay ahead of the competition and liven broadcast messages, retailers should hone in on send time optimization. This entails ensuring consumers are receiving content at their peak shopping times, creating dynamic content that shifts imagery based on preferences and behavior, and using predictive analytics to determine discount affinity on offers and providing astute product recommendations. Unique and intelligent broadcast messages exist, brands just need to leverage the right data and tactics to bring them to life.
With behavioral triggers, brands are asking themselves what more can they be doing. Yes, there’s cart abandonment, subscription and new arrival triggers, but retailers need to get more specific and create tailored content for the customer journey to increase conversions. Look for new abandonment opportunities — like billing information and shipping address abandonment. Target based on browsing history, such as replenished items, wish list adds, price drops and predicted purchase triggers, and show their value by celebrating major anniversaries — e.g., first purchase, subscription, birthday. More thoughtful, personalized triggers will ultimately lead to more revenue.
Personalization Across Channels
Building brand loyalty among newly acquired customers can be done through active personalization. A consumer must feel like the shopping experience is catered to their preferences and needs. Brands know that personalization should include smart, predictive content, but in order to achieve top-tier personalization across digital touchpoints, brands must unify data and combine their marketing efforts across channels, including email, SMS, on-site, social and beyond.
By having an integrated, cross-channel approach, retailers can collect data across touchpoints, send coordinated messages through email and SMS, and maintain a solid feedback loop to inform future campaigns. The plethora of data from 2020 can be used to fine-tune content, understand channel preferences, pinpoint the right send cadence, etc., to drive better engagement. This efficient and comprehensive understanding of consumer data is critical for marketers to embrace this year.
Ultimately, brands can take what they learned from the past year and apply it to thoughtful, needle-moving tactics as the e-commerce boom continues. To prioritize customer acquisition, customer engagement and revenue, brands must incorporate an omnichannel approach that assertively pushes for more self-identification, captures and learns about consumers, and leverages active personalization. This year, marketers must move nimbly and take a unified channel approach to beat last year’s record-breaking online sales.
Ross Kramer is co-founder and CEO of Listrak, a marketing automation platform for retailers.