In part 1, I covered the ideal methods to get visitors to your site. In part 2, I offered some the best practices to improve customer conversion and engagement when you finally get them to visit. In the final part Online Marketing Made Easy, I’ll talk about the third phase: what do with those folks who actually come to your site and then leave. Now the fun really begins, as things are getting interesting.
Once a visitor comes to the site, basically three things can happen. In the best-case scenario they buy something. They could also give you their email address. Most disappointing is when they leave without even saying goodbye. So we can lump these outcomes into customers, subscribers and runaways.
In the post-site phase of your online marketing program, you’re looking for sales conversions as well as building loyalty, nurturing relationships, and educating new prospects. You’ll judge the marketing activities of the post-site phase based on how often customers return to your site, how customers purchase more than once, the site traffic on days you send out emails, and similar metrics.
Let’s deal with those nasty runaways first. To put this all into perspective, we know that a typical ecommerce website will average a 2-4% conversion rate. This obviously translates to as much as 98% of your traffic not purchasing anything. Let’s say you have just 5,000 visitors a month. If you could convert 5% of that lost traffic, you would be looking at an additional $12,250 of revenue (assuming an average $50 order). You’ve already spent money to get that traffic so it makes sense not give up on them easily.
Remarketing is the industry term for marketing to visitors post-site. The most popular remarketing tactics is to use banner ads and text ads. That is, you buy banner and text ads that will only be shown to the runaways as they browse sites throughout the Internet. Most likely, you’ve experienced this yourself. While you might initially feel uncomfortable about the practice, it can be helpful to your customers as well. For example, you could have the actual product they were looking at on your site in the ad to really entice them. I personally experienced this with Posters.com: after browsing through some posters on their site, the ones I looked at kept reappearing in banners across the Internet. You can limit how many times and how frequently a person sees a banner, so you can control their experience with the ad. In terms of messaging, you can address potential reasons why a purchase wasn’t made. While you don’t want to immediately jump to discounting, you can offer additional value, testimonials, or educational information to help persuade these high potential prospects.
Another current trend in ecommerce right now is emailing lost prospects. Cart abandonment techniques are highly sought after because they represent such a lucrative target. Many of the most successful online retailers have changed their shopping cart procedure to obtain the email address first before anything else. This way if the visitor decides to abandon their cart later on down the purchasing funnel, they email them the details of the cart just to follow up.
Runaways undoubtedly represent your biggest target market, but they don’t represent your greatest opportunity. They need to be addressed and lured back into the fold, but the real action is with subscribers.
Hopefully you are employing a successful email acquisition program and your list is growing nicely. You should be shooting for list growth of around 20% annually, but keep in mind that you could lose as much as that each year, as well. The key to keeping the list fresh is to mail your members frequently with valuable entertaining content that keeps them engaged with your brand.
Your first step is to set up a series of auto-responder emails to go out at set intervals when someone first subscribes. This process ensures your brand’s newcomers are well tended to. Next, establish a calendar and schedule the topics and offers you will include in emails for the next several months. This planning will help you stay ahead of deadlines and make things feel a bit more manageable. Dismiss the feeling that you will be overwhelming people and that your emails will be an annoyance. Of course you should be respectful, but overall, the people who subscribed to your email list are interested in you and your business. Honor this group with unique information, access to special benefits, and interesting content. Make them feel special for being part of your community.
You’ll really enjoy seeing the spikes in your website traffic every time you send out an email. It will make you want to build the list even larger. So you’ll need to read part 1 again.
We are now left with the smallest group, but also the one with greatest potential to increase your revenue. You know more about this group than any other…and knowledge is power! Mine the data about your customers and segment them into unique categories. Those who have not purchased in 3 months, those who have purchase more than $600 in one month, those who live in hot states, etc. and market to them personally. Deliver customized content to each sub-segment of your database that feels tailored and specific to them.
The key here is to nurture this group and keep them loving you. Communicate with them via social media, email, and inserts in their orders. Provide articles, links, images, video, contest, and surveys that add depth to your brand and to your community. We often go to the local coffee shop and get a free cup after 10 purchases. Loyalty programs can work just as well for your site.
The metrics for defining success with customers revolve around the things you do to keep them coming back and making them feel special. You should be looking at number of purchases but also drilling down a bit deeper to understand who is making that purchase and if they have purchased before, when was the last time they made a purchase, and other valuable data about the customer.
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Online marketing represents a tremendous opportunity for your business. It can seem a little daunting at first, but if you follow the steps laid out in this series, you’ll spend much less time worrying about you need to be doing and more time actually using the multitude of options at your disposal to start generating revenue.