There are many reasons that an eCommerce business may be underperforming, mainly not hitting its sales goals or revenue targets.
The typical responses eCommerce businesses take to try and solve these problems include:
- Rolling out new products.
- Lowering prices.
- Offering discounts or increasing advertising and marketing spend to attract new customers.
While all of these strategies can be beneficial when executed correctly, many eCommerce businesses miss the trick of consistently engaging with their customers and audience to see what their customers are looking for, how they feel about the products they’re buying and the problems they’re looking to solve.
If you’re looking for guidance on different customer engagement strategies to help your business, a professional eCommerce marketing agency can help.
In this article, we’ll look at how eCommerce businesses can meaningfully engage with their audience to drive customer satisfaction, boost sales and increase revenue.
What is customer engagement?
Customer engagement can be simply defined as the interactions a business has between themselves and their customers. For eCommerce businesses, this definition can broaden slightly as the engagement between a customer may be with a marketplace and not a business directly.
The importance of customer engagement
Customer engagement begins with a customer’s first interaction with a business or brand.
This first interaction could be seeing an advert, reading a blog post, reading a review or hearing about a company or brand from a friend or family member and running through to the point of purchase and any interactions a customer has with a business or marketplace in the future after making a purchase.
Customers that are highly engaged tend to buy your products, promote your products to others and show more loyalty. Positive and proactive customer engagement can also lead to greater profits for a business, as these stats show:
- 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
- Customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue and relationship growth.
- Companies that can engage their B2B customers successfully realise 63% lower customer churn.
These stats should excite those running eCommerce businesses, particularly with the growth of the eCommerce sector. In 2018, eMarketer reported that eCommerce sales were predicted to grow by 14.6% over the next three years, with an estimated growth of 18.7% by 2022.
By 2024 US eCommerce market is set to reach a value of $2,087 billion, and with the impact of the pandemic, predicted e-commerce sales would grow 13.7% in the US compared to an expected 12.8% rise before the pandemic.
Why is customer engagement important to eCommerce businesses?
We’ve seen then that the eCommerce market is growing and that businesses that prioritise customer engagement increase their profits. Breaking it down further, there are other reasons that customer engagement is essential for eCommerce businesses that still link to profitability. Here are some of them:
Customer engagement increases customer retention
Research has shown that a solid eCommerce customer service experience can keep up to 84% of customers from leaving over something as simple as returning a product. US companies lose an average of $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.
Customer engagement gives better opportunities for upselling to customers
When you’re engaged with your customers, you have more opportunities to market new products, market upgrades, and introduce new product features to them. There are quite a few different ways to upsell and cross-sell If a customer has purchased a product and is happy with it.
For example, if a customer is on your site’s checkout page, you could offer them similar products to what they’re already purchasing. You can also offer them discounts on similar products or offer a bundle package to incentivise a customer to make additional purchases.
Some additional tips for upselling include:
- Keep it subtle and offer similar products to the product that a customer is buying. For example, if a customer is purchasing a disposable razor offering them shaving foam as an additional purchase could be beneficial.
- Offer products that already sell well. It can be a time-consuming process deciding on what products to offer as a upsell to customers. Before deciding on what products to offer, look at your sales metrics and sales numbers to see which products are worth upselling. Look for products that have had consistently high sales or products that you predict will be suitable for your customers.
- Try not to overwhelm your customers with too many options when you’re upselling to them. While happy customers are likely to be more open to hearing about other products you have to offer, you don’t want to bombard them. Each time you offer an upsell to a customer, try to keep it to two or three products and monitor whether your customers are receptive to the products you’re offering them.
Customer engagement breeds customer loyalty
There’s an abundance of research out there highlighting the value of customer loyalty to eCommerce brands. Some of the figures include:
- The cost of acquiring a new customer is five times higher than retaining existing and current customers
- A business’s loyal customers are 50% more likely to try out a new product than customers
- Loyal customers will typically spend 31% more than a new customer.
- 84% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands with loyalty programs.
Some of the ways you can increase customer loyalty include:
- Offer a points-based loyalty program. A program such as this rewards customers for buying products by awarding them points that they can use towards future purchases.
- Offer ‘try before you buy’ schemes or ‘no risk return’ policies.
- Offer world-class customer service and an omnichannel experience for your customers.
5 ways to effectively engage with your eCommerce audience
#1 Implement a live chat on your website
It’s commonplace for many eCommerce stores or platforms to have a live chat feature on their website, but some still don’t. There are many reasons why having a live chat on your eCommerce website/store is a good idea, but most significantly, it saves your customers and your company’s time. For example, 73% of customers say that valuing their time is critical for good customer service.
Having a live chat on your website helps your customer get the answers they’re looking for instead of calling a phone number or sending an email and waiting for a response. Your customer support agents should also be able to deal with more than one customer at a time using a live chat system, which helps boost their efficiency and productivity.
#2 Gather customer feedback and keep an eye on your reviews
The feedback your customers give you is the easiest way to identify how they find your products and their experiences when they purchase. There are different ways to monitor customer feedback; one of the simplest ways is to keep an eye on your reviews.
Aim to respond to every review you get (yes, even the bad ones) and use the feedback your customers give you to work out what’s working well within your business and what needs improving. Other ways of gathering customer feedback include:
- Sending customers a survey after they make a purchase asking them to rate their experience.
- Monitor your social media channels and respond to customer enquiries promptly.
- Conduct one-on-one outreach with customers. This could include both happy and not so happy customers. Engaging one-on-one with a customer who has had a good experience is a great way to build your social proof through testimonials and case studies. Engaging with unhappy customers can help solve and address their problems and be proactive with your customers.
#3 Offer discounts and coupons
We all love a discount or a coupon, and using them both strategically can boost your sales, bring in new leads and win back potential customers who didn’t complete their purchase. If you’re looking to bring in new leads, you could offer a discount code on a specific product or line of products if they join your email list.
Suppose you’re looking to convert customers who’ve visited your site, abandoned their cart or viewed one of your product pages. In that case, you can implement remarketing strategies so your visitors are reminded of the products they’ve viewed and looked at.
Offering a discount within your retargeting campaigns to those potential customers who were close to making a purchase is a great way to boost your sales and conversions. For example, suppose a customer abandons their cart without completing a purchase. In that case, you could implement retargeting ads to offer them a discount on the product they initially added to their cart or highlight other products they might be interested in.
#4 Make the most of social media
Making the most of your social media presence goes beyond merely responding to customer enquiries. There are many ways on social media that you can use to boost your engagement, grow your follower count and get more eyes on your products. Some of these methods include:
- Use paid ads to boost your traffic, increase brand awareness and make sales.
- Maintain a regular posting schedule and focus on posting engaging content.
- Run product discounts and contests through social media.
- Encourage users to share your products and submit user-generated content, which shows a user using a product of yours that they’ve bought.
- Include your social media icons on your website and all of your customer correspondence so your customers and subscribers can easily find you on your chosen social media channels.
- Use marketing software such as HubSpot to manage your different social media accounts and schedule your posts accordingly.
Alongside these tips, make sure you spend some time researching the social media channel that is most appropriate for your business. Facebook is an excellent platform for driving leads and selling your products directly to consumers; the sheer scale of the audience and the rich demographic data that Facebook contains make it an essential part of many eCommerce brands’ customer acquisition strategies.
Instagram also offers eCommerce brands a helpful way of visually promoting their products; users can tag businesses directly in their posts and easily display products they enjoy. Ecommerce brands can work with their audience to post user-generated content and even work with influencers to get their products in front of a bigger audience.
#5 Keep track of significant days to increase personalisation
Your customers want to be treated as individuals. A great way of increasing personalisation in your customer interactions is by reaching out to them on significant days such as their birthday, anniversaries such as the length of time they’ve been a customer with your business and holidays such as Christmas.
This kind of engagement can help your business stand out from the crowd and shows your customers that you value them and their commerce. On significant days you can offer your customers special deals and discounts on particular products they might be interested in, a voucher or discount codes that they can use or any other type of promotion that you think the customer would benefit from.
Prioritising engagement with your customers should be a priority. As we’ve noted through this article, proactive and consistent customer engagement correlates with ecommerce businesses becoming more profitable, retaining customers, and growing exponentially. Take some of the tips we’ve laid out and watch your customers become happy, loyal, referring customers for your business!