As online sales continue to account for a bigger and bigger share of total retail purchases - currently the figure sits at 21% - what will drive conversions for brands and retailers in 2021?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to ecommerce marketing, but keeping an eye on what your competitors and the disruptors in your space are doing is always a good idea. And being agile will let you jump on to the “next big thing” in a flash. That’s what it takes to get noticed and sell online.
These days, consumers expect an Amazon-like experience wherever they shop, with good on-site search, a seamless checkout process, and flexibility around buying and returning options. But beyond this, here are the key areas brands should focus on right now:
Rich media to replace real-life experiences
When the global pandemic accelerated the shift to ecommerce by five years in the space of a few months, it was key for brands to find ways to merge the online and offline customer experience.
One obvious way to do this is by incorporating high-quality visual content in ads, listings, and product pages. Almost 80% of people say product videos give them more confidence when purchasing a product, while 90% of online shoppers see photo quality as the most important factor in a sale.
Website visitors are between 64 and 85% more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video, and it’s well-known that video gives higher ecommerce conversion rates than static images.
Even as shops are opening back up, people are continuing to shop from their devices for safety and convenience. Delivering a customer experience that gives them the best of the online and offline worlds will work in your favor.
What to do: Shoot appealing, high-res product photos and videos to show your products in detail, from all angles, and in use. Adhere to each channel’s requirements and best practices, while staying true to your brand and consistent across every touchpoint.
Your social media presence
Social channels present a huge opportunity for brands to drive ecommerce conversions. A whole 70% of shopping enthusiasts use Instagram to discover products, while 78% of American consumers have discovered products to buy via Facebook.
While you should look to your audience and competitors when defining your exact plan of action, there are certainly ecommerce and social commerce features to take notice of on the major platforms.
As well as Facebook dynamic ads and Snapchat Dynamic Ads, there’s Pinterest’s ‘Dynamic Creative’ ad, YouTube dynamic ads, and shoppable media available across several platforms. And Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops give brands their own storefronts within the apps, and let users checkout without needing to exit to a different app or website.
Strong brand presence on social media is about being discoverable where your audience are looking for products like yours, and even when they’re not actively looking. It’s about telling your brand story and creating emotional connections with those people, with compelling and consistent product content and messaging.
What to do: Watch what your target customers are doing, and be where they are. Stay up to date with which new features are being unveiled on which channels, and make sure your product data - attributes like images, titles, descriptions, and so on - is optimized for each platform.
AI and AR for product discoverability, personalization, and customer services
You may have the best quality and range of products, but what if your customers have a poor experience on your website or can’t find what they need? Your sales will undoubtedly suffer.
Thankfully, there are a lot of ways you can integrate AI and AR features into your website and strategy to help you secure those conversions. These technologies help improve ease of use and create more seamless, sleek customer experiences.
Artificial intelligence functions include chatbots to help customers with basic queries and direct them to more advanced support if needed, as well as to process orders. Examples of augmented reality features are visual search, virtual try-on, and alerts that tell customers they’re near your physical outlet.
What to do: Consider your customer’s journey, and how you can use tech to make things more streamlined, consistent, and intuitive for them. The more you know about the path people take to get to the purchase stage, and the obstacles they may face, the more effectively you can build a website that’s geared towards giving them meaning and optimized for conversions.
An omnichannel approach
These days, customers expect a seamless and consistent experience across platforms and devices. They want to start researching in one place, and complete the purchase somewhere else when they’re ready. Too many conversions are lost when customers attempted to do this, and found it didn’t function how they expected.
An omnichannel, omni-platform approach is essential for any company that sells online. Between your social channels, desktop site, mobile site, app, and anywhere else your audience browses and buys products online, you should be not only visible, but telling the same story across all touchpoints. This also includes your physical stores, which should be seen as an extension of the online experience, and vice versa.
Consistency reassures users, and builds familiarity and trust. This, in turn, makes followers more likely to share your content, seek out your products, click on your ads, or even recommend you to friends and family. Being truly omnichannel will significantly increase your chances of retaining customers, and closing sales; according to Google, omnichannel strategies drive an 80% higher rate of incremental store visits.
What to do: Assess the right ecommerce channels for your company, depending on where your audience looks for product inspiration and makes purchases. Be ready to adopt new channels as they arise.
It’s more important than ever to offer value, meaningful messages, and a “human” element behind your products and brand. These days, social consciousness and sustainability are key factors shoppers consider when making purchase decisions.
Creative storytelling communicates your brand’s persona, your vision, and the “why” behind your products. You should be telling your consistent story across your Facebook dynamic ads, on-site content, marketplace listings, and anywhere else you have a presence online.
Video content plays a big role, as it is often more engaging and personal than a static image or written content. Social media ads, shoppable video, and product landing pages are all great places to showcase your products in videos.
What to do: Win people over with your content, from your images to your descriptions. Remember, it’s not just about how great your product is, but about how well your brand can connect on a personal level with your audience.
Reviews from previous happy customers show your prospects you’re trustworthy. The fact your products are tried, tested, and loved influence buying decisions and boost your sales. Nearly nine out of ten, 89%, of people read reviews before investing in something, and having 50 or more reviews can increase your conversion rate by 4.6%.
On the flipside, many shoppers won’t even consider purchasing a product if they can’t read reviews about it. They would then be likely to find an alternative option, such as heading to Amazon for similar products that do have reviews, which may cost you a sale.
Interestingly, purchase likelihood peaks between 4 and 4.7 stars, and decreases as ratings approach 5 stars. This suggests that customers want honesty and believability over perfection.
What to do: Add your review scores to your feed so they appear in your Google Shopping listings, use them to bolster Amazon descriptions, and place them front and center on your product landing pages. You could even add stand-out review quotes to your Facebook dynamic ad headlines. Incentivize your customers to leave reviews with voucher codes to build up your testimonial count.