The world of ecommerce is continuing to grow at an impressive rate, with more business springing up every week. It’s predicted that 17% of all US retail transactions will take place online by 2022— and that’s a conservative estimate.
So whether you have an established business, or you are looking to launch an ecommerce store, it’s important to stay ahead of the game.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help your business stand out from the crowd, and boost your ecommerce sales. From micro-influencers to localization, here are the ecommerce strategies you need to know about.
Embrace AI Technology 100%
AI is becoming more sophisticated all the time — there’s never been a better time to embrace this technology for the benefit of your business. And with nearly 80% of companies ready to incorporate AI technology, you need to stay competitive and jump on board with AI as well.
AI is the best way for ecommerce brands to scale their customer operations, save money, and create awesome customer funnels. AI sits at the heart of essential ecommerce strategies like audience segmentation and customer retargeting.
Consider letting a chatbot handle simple customer queries, or use AI to power your email knowledgebase. Other AI applications include targeted marketing campaigns that combine machine learning with tried and tested engagement strategies.
Optimove is a great example of how combining AI with relationship building can help improve your customer experience.
AI marketing isn’t about taking a robotic approach to customer engagement — but about using smart technology and data in order to engage an audience at scale. In fact, AI will help ecommerce companies make more people feel special and help improve essential customer lifetime value metrics.
Facebook Messenger bots are great for customer retention and are sure to see a surge in popularity in the coming year. They are the ideal way for ecommerce brands to engage and retain customers, but they can also be programmed for customer support.
And thanks to AI, chatbot technology is very affordable and can be used by brands that are just starting out. In fact, Messenger is the perfect channel for smaller, more agile ecommerce operations.
Online retailers on Shopify can look forward to even more AI-integration this summer, as messenger bot Kit will be upgraded to AI-project manager, Ping. Using AI automation, Ping will give retailers the opportunity to automate core elements of ecommerce inventory, CX, and marketing. It’s a testament to the general pervasiveness of AI — its reach in a modern ecommerce business is nearing 100%.
Create Ephemeral Content
Consumers and marketers both love the direct and emotive medium of ephemeral visual content. There one second, gone the next — the novelty of live video and picture stories shows no sign of wearing off. For ecommerce brands, it’s the ideal channel for announcing product or brand launches and giving customers a sneak peek behind the corporate curtains.
Use platforms such as Facebook Live to connect directly with your audience, or set up on Periscope. Make the most of Stories on Instagram or Snapchat — just get out there and be brave about sharing your brand story in bold and visual ways.
Instagram Stories grew phenomenally in its first year — surpassing Snapchat with 250 million users by mid-2017. It’s a testament of the power of storytelling, as well as the popularity of Instagram.
For ecommerce brands, Instagram continues to be a stellar social media channel. Popular, visual, and still growing — it’s a great place to strengthen your brand’s visual language and find your next generation of brand advocates.
Brands are now even able to advertise using the Instagram Stories format:
It’s a great way to ‘do’ advertising that doesn’t feel pushy whilst simultaneously creating a customer community.
Influencers Go Micro
Influencer marketing is a great way to reach your audience, but don’t think too big when it comes to the influencer. Be sure to choose influencers whose audiences match up with your target demographics, as you want them to be inspired to check out your website, and engage with your brand directly. Increasingly, brands are turning to smaller and more targeted influencers with a proven audience. It’s all about building more direct relationships and engaging customers with trust, rather than littering their social feeds with empty “#ads.”
Adweek published an article on micro-influencers in ecommerce — showing how it’s a viable strategy that scales from the small startup right up to the enterprise brand. It’s something that really anyone can do — you just need to seed your products with the right community.
There is really no reason not to engage with influencers, and by going micro, more and more brands will be able to benefit from this strategy.
Create Localized Brand Experiences
Even if you are a purely online brand, you need to think about your customer experience offline — from supporting the local community right down to the packaging you use. Even for online businesses, localization can be extremely important. Not only do people often prefer to buy from local stores, but most search engines now offer location-based searches, which can help people in your area to find your business. (This is especially true on mobile).
Furthermore, when marketing to areas further afield, take the time to adjust your ad campaign and message to suit its audience. This will help potential customers to feel more familiar and connected with your brand, build trust, and increase the chance of a sale
Local offers, personalized content, and even AR-style games are great ways of bridging the gap between offline and online experiences in order to create a branded experience people won’t forget in a hurry.
Introduce A Subscription-Based Model
More and more businesses are moving towards subscription models as this is a great way to ensure a regular revenue stream. Think about the additional services or perks you could offer to subscribers, and consider implementing a referral system to encourage your loyal customers to spread the word on your behalf.
Especially if you have invested or recently bought a business, a move off into this model could provide a much-needed boost for your newly-acquired brand.
Curating products into a themed subscription box is a great way to appeal to a niche audience like My Geek Box have done with theirs. Think about how you can serve a group of aficionados and gurus by offering exclusive deals and packages.
The key is to keep the above strategies in mind and pay attention to shifting trends and the feedback from your customers. Start with a few of the above-mentioned steps that you can implement most easily and quickly. But always make sure to measure how a new strategy is performing in terms of your sales. Measurement is also a huge part of a winning ecommerce strategy. Before you know it, you’ll be an ecommerce pro and be able to reap the rewards of all your hard work.
Victoria Greene is a digital consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, she shares tips on various digital strategies, including affiliate marketing. She loves to learn from her fellow marketing experts — the only way to make it to the top fast!