E-commerce companies focus on customer lifetime value in order to successfully drive business goals, so they must build a strategy and identify tactics designed to optimize four critical lifetime value customer milestones: acquiring prospects, converting prospects to buyers, converting buyers to frequent buyers and converting frequent buyers to enthusiasts. In every case, when applied against these challenges, e-mail can deliver positive results for marketers.?
The best way to integrate e-mail into your acquisition program is to use auto-responders and welcome cascades to monitor and track prospects to the source; quickly identify and eliminate sources of underperforming, non-performing and problematic leads; and expand acquisition relationships with acquisition sources that provide compliant, performing leads.?
Welcome cascades are also very helpful in converting prospects to buyers. The key is to focus on recency and relevance. New subscribers respond well to more frequent communications better than ongoing customer lists do, and they want to learn about your company. A great welcome cascade provides company information and special new-subscriber offers in each campaign. ?
While a welcome cascade might be designed to go as long as a couple of months, it’s a good idea to remove a prospect from the welcome cascade once they have made a purchase and move into your buyer list.?
The lifetime value goal for buyers is to convert them to frequent buyers. While standard “big list” e-mail campaigns deliver sales, and targeting campaigns improve performance, it is recency campaigns that do the best job converting buyers to frequent buyers. Campaigns deployed to people immediately after they leave your Web site, or have called your order or help desk, will perform dramatically better than your standard campaigns.?
E-mail can also be used to convert buyers to enthusiasts, or customers who spread the word about your company when given the proper tools, such as advanced forward-to-friend functionality or the ability to post campaigns on social networking pages.?
E-mail is not the only tool you’ll use to support your e-commerce strategy, but it’s flexible enough to produce positive results against all of the customer milestones you are targeting. ?
E-mail can help drive lead acquisition and conversion, making buyers brand advocates?
Jenn Deering Davis?
Chief of community experience, Appozite?
As social networking becomes the new standard for real-time communication between two or more parties, retailers and brands should consider the possibilities that networking sites – such as Twitter – can bring to the table. ?
Companies can use Twitter to reach large groups of people, handle customer service issues quickly and work to build a lasting brand. Plus, it’s free to use and easy to learn. And, with Twitter nearly doubling in size each month, now is the time to?begin “Tweeting.” ?
An effective Twitter strategy is more than just building a large list of “followers” – those who will receive marketing messages. Unlike e-mail marketing, which is largely one-way messaging, Twitter encourages two-way interaction with current and potential customers. Here are a few suggestions to get the most value from this powerful medium.?
Twitter is ideal for promoting sales and specials in real time. You can post a link to a coupon and customers will receive that information instantly. If the coupon is valuable, followers are likely to “retweet,” or re-post, the coupon to their followers, which can result in a powerful viral marketing boost. When trying to move extra inventory, put it on sale and post it on Twitter. When running a special, don’t forget to tweet about it. ?
Use Twitter search (search.twitter.com) to monitor mentions of your brand. Respond to customer issues and find potential new customers and stay in the know about what people are saying about your products and company. Set up an RSS feed of search results so you never miss a mention. Engage customers that ask questions. Address and resolve customer service issues publicly to help position your company as a responsive and caring organization. ?
Above all, be a real person. Use your Twitter account to give your brand a human personality that people can relate to. It’s very useful to tweet links to your store and announcements about your products, but also include other interesting or relevant content. You’re an expert in this industry; share your expertise with your followers.
Twitter can help communicate special deals quickly and directly to customers?
CEO, Ping Mobile?
Electronic commerce, no-longer an “alternative” method of shopping, is set to receive a further boost by virtue of the continued proliferation of mobile marketing and the development of mobile applications. ?
Mobile marketing and mobile applications allow brands and retailers greater access to consumers, both in terms of timeliness and relativity of promotions and offers. The growth in this area is proving to be an?asset to those brands that are employing cutting-edge and creative methods to reach targeted consumers. ?
Beyond the ability to direct a message to the right consumer at the right time and place, the mobile marketing space is poised to allow consumers to make purchases and transact business directly from their mobile devices. This takes advantage of the fact that most of us are virtually always connected to our mobile phones, as well as the immediacy and “impulse buy” opportunities offered via the mobile channel.?
In the US in particular, there has been a relatively slower adaptation to mobile solutions than in other parts of the world, but this is rapidly changing. ?
While SMS, or text messaging, remains the lowest hanging fruit in terms of non-voice use of the cell phone, even the “simple” text message provides ample opportunity to lift mobile commerce beyond its current nascent stage. ?
By inserting a WAP (wireless acccess protocol) or IVR (interactive voice response) link into an SMS message, the advertiser easily enables the consumer to reach its mobile Web site or call center to complete a transaction. ?
For example, Ping Mobile recently ran a campaign for comedian Larry the Cable Guy in conjunction with an event at the Orleans Hotel and Casino on Las Vegas. By using the call to action “Text TV to 269411,” the consumer received a phone call from the box office with a pre-recorded message from the entertainer, followed by an option to “press 1 on your phone” to reach the box office and buy tickets. ?
The next steps in the evolution of mobile commerce are the ability to purchase the tickets directly through the mobile phone, as well as receiving and redeeming the tickets on the mobile device.
Mobile enables merchants to reach?consumers in a timely and targeted way ?
You’ve seen the case studies — user-generated content (UGC) has a positive impact on conversion and other e-commerce metrics. And when we talk to leaders within the industry, they get it. But the full value of your customers’ direct input extends beyond profits. We’ve seen UGC impact every aspect of a company, from the customer service desk to the CEO’s office. ?
User-generated content offers authentic customer opinions without the expense of focus groups or qualitative studies. Deep dives into data can reveal customer sentiment trends, uncovering huge product development and marketing opportunities. Reviews also offer an opportunity for businesses to initiate a dialogue with their consumer base.?
Retailers and manufacturers alike worry that user-generated input, particularly negative reviews, will tarnish their brand images. However, studies have shown that negative feedback can actually enhance the?credibility of a business. While consumers crave peer input, many doubt the authenticity of product reviews. Low-rated products prove that a company is genuinely interested in the customers’ opinion and willing to uphold transparency. ?
When it comes to product functionality, consumers are the ultimate testers. We’ve seen companies return to the drawing board based on negative user feedback, letting dissatisfied customers know how their input helped improve the original product. Some companies have even taken the next step to offer a replacement product to the customer at no additional cost. This step builds customer trust and highlights the company’s dedication to excellence.?
Consumers know what they want — and these days, they can shop until they find exactly what they need. Applying their feedback allows them to tailor your marketing strategy according to their needs, bridging the company-customer connection and optimizing your opportunity to earn their trust.?
User-generated content on retail Web sites allows customers to customize their online shopping experience to filter through reviews pertinent to their needs. Customer favorites and top-rated products consistently drive increased sales, often with drastic growth numbers.?
There are dozens of ways user-generated content impacts both brand perception and the rest of your business. Are you optimizing your customer input? ?
Merchants can customize e-commerce and drive sales with user-generated content ?