We live in a time when there is no such thing as an ignorant consumer. Consumers are armed nowadays with reviews and price comparisons that make them, at times, a difficult target to hit. Some consumers shop online, go offline to see the product in person and then return to buy. Shoes, clothes, gadgets…all are included in those actions.
People like to touch things and hold them in their hands. Personally, I did the same thing when I recently purchased an ultrabook. I narrowed it down to three, went to a local store and then made my decision from holding them in my hand since I’d be using it both on the road and at home. I’ve also filled out a form, changed my mind and then ignored follow-up emails. Sound familiar?
And that begs the question—how do you get customers to return to your site, especially if they’ve made their purchase from a brick and mortar store? After all, your online business will have little long-term value if you can’t attract and retain a customer base—and your website serves as your digital hub of operations, so you certainly want to do what you can to encourage people to return. Try some of these tips and see what kind of results you get. I admit, I speak from personal experience—I’ve responded to some of these, so I know they work!
This is a classic. “Hey, Happy Birthday, save an extra 20% on purchase today for your birthday!” or “Happy Birthday from Acme! Here’s your free (insert giveaway here). To claim your free (insert giveaway here), click here.” This is another opportunity to sell them again. Be sure to change your content and target it to the user. The main focus is to make them feel good about their b-day, that you “remembered” it and you’re offering either a freebie and/or a great deal.
After The Order
Amazon is a master of this. They also use this approach as you’re shopping online. Once your order is confirmed, you see more items related to what you just purchased. Buyers are more likely to buy again thanks to them being familiar to the buying process, so why not hit them again once they’ve completed a purchase? For example, consider an auto parts company that specializes in, let’s say, Ford Mustangs. A customer buys a headliner for a 1965 Mustang. After the customer makes the purchase, a script can alert them that they can also buy the door sills and complete the interior restoration process. If you break it down, this is nothing more than cross-selling—but it’s certainly effective and encourages additional purchases, as well as return visits. Plus, let’s face it. We all like to feel special, right? And even though these recommendations are the result of nothing more than a script, it still makes us feel great to know that a site is paying attention to what we buy and making recommendations based on that behavior.
Post-Order Confirmation Email
Again, another opportunity to cross-sell. After an online purchase, a confirmation email will make a customer feel more comfortable with purchasing online and it gives them a receipt of the transaction for their records. It also allows you to send some more recommendations for purchasing within the email. “Thank you for purchasing XXX. You may also like YYY.” Plus, you could also try creating a stand-alone landing page to drive slow-moving products or services if applicable.
Review an Item
Asking a customer to review a recently purchased item is not only a great way to solicit feedback, but also prompts them to return to your site (where they’ll hopefully browse new or related products). In addition, you can use this opportunity to cross-sell again with new items. It also allows you to create new content—and we all know what new content does for SEO. Reviews are especially valuable for local search visibility.
Left Cart without Buying
We’ve all done this, right? And it’s not the same as when you’re in a brick-and-mortar store in which you’d have to restock the items. Online, you can simply shut your browser window and you’re done. Consider modifying your site’s shopping cart feature so that customers are required to sign in or create an account before seeing the items again. That way, you’ll not only build a database of customer contact information, but you can also use their purchase history and contact info to create tailored messages that will help encourage them to return to the site and complete their purchase. To sweeten the pot, you might even offer a discount if they’ll return and finish their transaction.
Consider what might be most effective for your particular site and e-commerce process. You may want to try one tip at a time, or combine a few to see what sort of results you get. These are simple, effective ways to get users back to your site, which not only helps build a rapport between your site and the customer—it also engages them in different ways, making them more likely to return on a more regular basis. There’s no shortage of competition online, no matter your business or industry. Any advantage you can gain over similar companies will not only help your bottom line—it will help ensure you’re giving your customers the best service possible, too.
What did I miss? What tactics have worked for you and your online business?
This post first appeared on StaceyHood.com.
Stacey Hood is a long time friend, my Internet brother-from-another-mother, a fellow parent of twins, my husband’s birthday twin, and an all around PITA. But my love for him has no bounds. And he makes me laugh with that silly accent of his (shhhhh). Stacey has led the start-ups of WorldSoccerShop.com, WorldRugbyShop.com, 800Hosting.com and other sites. He works with companies of all sizes in providing SEO/SEM, content development, and social media strategies. His latest venture is with Guitar.com as operating partner. If you don’t yet stalk him online, you should start now. You can find him on Twitter @staceyhood and should read his blog Thinking Out Loud.
Image via Keith D. Tyler via Creative Commons