Christmas Ecommerce Best Practices [Part 4]
Welcome to the final article of our series about Ecommerce best practices for Christmas. In this series, we focused on providing recommendations on which digital marketing tools and practices to leverage for this holiday season. All our recommendations follow our P.A.C.E methodology which we use for our own digital marketing audits and digital roadmaps. Each of our 4 articles have been presented according to the four sections that make up our P.A.C.E model: Promote, Analyze, Convert and Engage.
In this week’s article about the Ecommerce best practices for Christmas, we will cover digital marketing recommendations that fall under the Engage section. Please note however that only a small portion of our usual engagement recommendations are implementable before Christmas, therefore we will only focus on these in this article. Feel free to get in touch with us to hear more about the remaining engagement tactics that we haven’t covered here.
In the previous articles, we recommended various tactics and tools to attract visitors, analyze their behavior and convert them into customers. In this article, we will focus on the tactics to create engagement, in order to retain your customers, generate repeat purchases, and convert them into brand advocates, allowing you to leverage their word of mouth to reach new potential customers.
Don’t forget to check out the first three sections of the P.A.C.E. model:
- Promote: Ecommerce Best Practices for Christmas [Part 1]
- Analyze: Ecommerce Best Practices for Christmas [Part 2]
- Convert: Ecommerce Best Practices for Christmas [Part 3]
Create a Referral Program
People often talk about the products and services they buy, discuss their pros and cons, and if they appreciate them, recommend them to their friends. Your potential customers are more likely to listen to their friends opinions than to advertisement, that doesn’t mean that you need to stop advertising, but if their friends happen to be your customers, you could use the power of word of mouth. That being said, although your customers might have something good to say about your products or services, they don’t always do. In fact, a 2010 study conducted by Advisor Impact reveals that while 83% of satisfied customers reported a willingness to recommend services to others, only 29% actually did. This highlights the fact that you need to motivate your customers to spread the word about your products or services.
One simple and effective way to encourage your customers to advocate your products more actively is to offer gift cards as an incentive. When your customers complete a purchase, encourage them to refer your products to their friends by providing unique and trackable codes that they can share. Every time a unique new customer makes a purchase, the referrer receives a gift card. In order to limit the distribution costs and automate the process as much as possible, distribute digital gift cards by email.
If a gift card doesn’t apply to your business model, consider offering early access to products, participation in upcoming product beta tests, or even free consultations and training. Dropbox has been using a referral program for years, offering 500Mb of free space for each new user installing the software on their computer. In 2010, referral accounted for 35% of the signups according to a paper from the Harvard Business School that was released in 2011 by Thomas R. Eisenmann. According to a slideshow uploaded by Drew Houston, founder and CEO of Dropbox, the referral program increased the signups by 60% (slide 30/34).
You can even gamify this referral process by adapting the value of the gift card to the number of customers or to the value of transaction referred. The table below shows an example of a gradual referral program:
Not only does a referral program allow you to reach new customers, but it also increases quick repeat sales due to the gift card and their limited validity.
But providing gift cards to the referrer is not always enough, you also need to make your products and services as attractive as possible to your new potential customers. To do so, in addition to the gift cards for referrer, offer discounts for the new referred customers.
Keep Your Customers Happy
One of the fastest ways to devaluate your brand image is to keep your customers unhappy. Unhappy customers tend to express their dissatisfaction a lot more than satisfied customers, in fact a survey conducted by Colloquy in 2011 amongst 3,295 consumers show that only 42% of customers would recommend a product or service they particularly like, whereas 75% of them would share a negative experience.
This is why some companies still consider social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter as threats rather than opportunities. However, whether your company is active on these channels or not, your customers are talking about it.
So what can you do? As covered in our second article in this series, we recommend using tools such as Hootsuite or Sproutsocial to listen to what your customers are saying about you. Specifically, we recommend that you track the following:
- Brand name(s)
- Products or services names
- Campaigns & offers names
- Hashtags used
Let’s now see what the benefits can be. Zendesk has surveyed 1,046 individuals in the United Stated at the beginning of the year. The objective was to get feedback on their experiences with customer service, and the findings turned out to be very insightful. Customer service has been ranked as the #1 factor impacting vendor trust, and 88% of the people surveyed admitted having been influenced by an online customer service when making a buying decision. Moreover, customer service can be a decisive factor for repeat purchases, as 62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers increased their purchased after a good customer experience. The opposite is as valid, as 66% of B2B and 52% of B2C customers stopped buying after a bad customer service experience.
Leverage Your Customers’ Social Medias
Another objective you should aim for is to leverage your customers’ social media channels to increase the exposure of your campaigns and offers. You could include a social component in the check out process of your ecommerce website for example, offering an extra 5% discount if your customers like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, depending on which channel provides the best return on investment (ROI) for your company. Socially Stacked survey 2,080 fans of 20 major brands on why they liked a page on Facebook. The study provided lots of interesting metrics, specifically that 42% of Facebook fans like a page in order to get a coupon or a discount. This supports the fact that this practice is already established, so why not give it try. This offer doesn’t necessarily need to be a discount, you could also offer free shipping. Another option is to require your customers to share your offer to be able to benefit from it.
Grow Your Loyalty Program
Acquiring new customers is five to ten times more expensive than retaining your existing ones, and repeat customers spend on average 67% more than new customers, according to Inc. Loyalty programs have been proven to be quite successful in retaining customers, so any occasion to encourage your customer to join your own program has to be leveraged. As for the previous point, consider offering discounts, coupons or free shipping in exchange for subscription. Make sure to make the loyalty program subscription an optional option of the payment gateway and don’t forget to offer additional fidelity points for the subscription, most programs give away a fair amount of points as a reward.
As a side note, loyalty programs have to be considered carefully. We actually recommend discarding this tactic if you are not currently running your own loyalty program, or are part of an existing large reward program such as Air Miles. A loyalty program requires an extensive planning and strategy to be successful. A lot of companies gave it a try, yet only a handful is truly successful at it, and attention to details is key as people will quickly find any potential loophole in your fine prints, and try to trick the system, which can cost you an enormous amount of money.
If you follow these recommendations and combine them with your other digital marketing activities as covered in our P.A.C.E model, you will see measurable improvements in your Christmas campaign.
This concludes the final article of our series on the Ecommerce best practices for Christmas. We will continue to offer digital marketing recommendations for holidays and specific events throughout the year, the next one will be published in January in preparation for Valentine. In the meantime, don’t forget to check the first three articles of this series:
- Promote: Ecommerce Best Practices for Christmas [Part 1], which focuses on the promotional activities that can improve your Christmas campaign’s effectiveness
- Analyze: Ecommerce Best Practices for Christmas [Part 2], which focuses on the metrics to look after and which analytics tool to use in order to track and improve your Christmas campaign's effectiveness
- Convert: Ecommerce Best Practices for Christmas [Part 3], which focuses on the tools and campaigns to use to improve the conversion rate from prospects to customers.
If you want to hear more about these recommendations or get information on how we can help you with your Christmas campaign, get in touch with us through our contact page.