6 Consumer Research Tools You’re Probably Not Using

by Sean Ogino |

6 Consumer Research Tools You’re Probably Not Using

Consumer Research Tools

The final buying decision of a customer is not usually straightforward. It gets shaped by various forces, be they cultural, social, psychological, and economical. Understanding how these factors prompt or repel people from buying is needed if marketers wish to succeed. The reason is that once you know the “actual” facts about the consumers, you can decide what consumer segment  needs to be on your marketing radar and, more importantly, how to get their attention. Consumer research, thus, is like a lighthouse for your marketing efforts. It gives direction to everything that marketers do.

Today’s marketers, especially ecommerce marketers, are lucky in a sense that they are living in a world where information about customers is never far away from them. Along with their own database, the market is flooded with tools which can further simplify their process of consumer research. Though there are plenty of such tools, I have listed down some of the most innovative consumer research tools.

1) Reddit

Reddit, a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website, reaches over 200 million unique visitors each month from over 208 countries. This means that the chances of the presence of your desired target audience are very high here. Apart from being free, it boasts a presence of multiple communities called subreddits, groups of people that discuss common topics. This is precisely where the possibility to peep into the consumers’ mindsets arrives for marketers.

With the help of Subreddit Search Tool, you can search your keywords to find your audience on reddit. Suppose that you are selling nutritional products. Then, you might type in “nutrition” to bring up a list of subreddits related to that topic.

reddit

After combing through the top results in the subreddit, you can see the popularity of the post.

reddit upvote

As you can see, two of those top spots are taken up by talk of energy and nutrition. Now, through this you can understand what they are thinking about the overall nutritional products and industry. If you think that you have a product which can meet their expectations, you can target them accordingly. Remember that Reddit isn’t called the front page of the internet for nothing!

2) Google Trends 

Google is regarded by many as one of the most powerful consumer research tools. Its Google Trends feature in particular gives you an unobscured picture of how often particular keywords or subjects have been searched over a certain time period. Of course, you can check the keyword related to your brand as well as the keywords of your competitors – that too in a real time. As it gives refined results by location, category and search history along with the cause of the sudden rise in interest for few keywords, it tells you what people find more interesting, what is on their mind for most of the time and what they love the most.

google trends

3) Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews is one of the most direct consumer research tools, as it gives marketers valuable insight into what their own customers think of their products, service, and brand. While it’s illuminating to visit third-party review sites and read reviews about competitors, you’ll get the most data as efficiently as possible by mining your own product review platform.

Your review solution should be able to do sentiment alerts and/or analysis, merchandising reports, and segment reviews based on issues pertaining to categories like fit, defective product, and shipping.

Click here to learn more about optimizing your ratings and reviews!

4) Social Data

Facebook has already become much more than a mere social media platform where people connect. As of the third quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.79 billion monthly active users. Thus, Facebook’s massive repository of data makes it perhaps only second to Google in terms of the most powerful consumer research tools.

This data made it simple for the social media giant to come up with its own Facebook Audience Insights- a tool that is available to anyone through the Ad Manager interface. It’s an incredible way for marketers to gain access to data Facebook is gathering about its users. It is more useful to brands both that want to-

  • Use Facebook heavily for interacting with their audience.
  • Learn as much as possible about their core demographics.

The best part of this data is that Facebook provides it in a proper format of  graphs and other descriptive summaries by staying away from the irritating spreadsheets. It enables to provide you with the bird’s-eye view of your chosen group. And generally, this is what matter the most while making important marketing related decisions.

fb audience insights 2

You can also get valuable data from a social login solution. Social login lets your customers create an account and sign into your site using their existing profiles from platforms like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and more. It’s one of the most convenient consumer research tools, as it delivers social graph data about your customers and site users directly to you. Many social login clients use the solution to get data about the following:

  • Social network popularity: e.g., do your customers live on Facebook or do they choose Google?
  • Device use: See if shoppers are using desktops, tablets, or smartphones to order from you
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Region
  • Interests/likes

Read on below for more on consumer research tools…

5) Think with Google Marketer’s Almanac

Customers’ choices, and thus, trends change according to the seasons. Think With Google’s Marketer’s Almanac allows you to gather information on how people browse and buy according to seasonality. As it is able to tell  the slightest change in consumer behavior according to seasons, so you can catch the pulse of people by staying relevant. This, among all other consumer research tools, is especially valuable for those marketers whose businesses get severely affected by the seasonal fluctuations.

6) Customer Loyalty Data

A good customer loyalty program will act as a treasure trove of consumer information. In it, you’ll have your shoppers’ contact information, birthdays, and purchase history at the very least. You should also be able to pull in purchase data like recency, frequency, and average order value. With an optimized advocate loyalty program, you’ll be able to pull in advocate marketing data as well, including whether or not customers referred friends, submitted reviews, and so on. All in all, your customer loyalty program is one of the most comprehensive consumer research tools, as it can give you the following data to both analyze and segment:

  • Purchase recency, frequency, and average order value
  • Customer loyalty and advocate marketing data
  • Location of purchase or delivery
  • Type of product purchased
  • Interactions with your brand in-store, online, in-app, or on social
  • Any data imported from your CRM, ERP, ESP, or personalization engine

All of the aforementioned consumer research tools can show you vital insights, such as age group of consumers, their geographical location, their lifestyle, and more. What makes them even more desirable is that you can get hold of such valuable information without spending much. Many of these consumer research tools are free, and the ones that aren’t do double duty as acquisition, conversion, and retention solutions. The significance of this cost saving becomes startling when placed against the contradiction of paid consumer research.

Note: To learn more about all the information you can collect in your online or omni-channel customer loyalty program, don’t miss out on this post!. And this article will show you what to do with your advocate marketing data!

The Most Intelligent Ways to Use Your Advocate Marketing Data

technology-computer-chips-gigabyte

In an earlier post, we explained that the data you collect from your loyalty program maximizes the marketing of your referral program. Simply because you know everything about loyal customers- including their likes, demographics, and Facebook friends, if you request that information from them. In this context, advocate marketing data is no different, as here you also will be gathering huge chunks of information about and from your brand advocates.

Understand Why Your Advocates Love You

Advocates exist on a spectrum, and the most vocal are no less than brand evangelists. These customers are totally and completely in love with your brand. There must be something in the overall ecosystem of your brand that has appealed to them. It can be your product, your customer service, or your association with some noble cause. It can be anything. Try to know this in detail. It will automatically give you a fair understanding of which facet of yours is more appealing to the majority of people. Analyze it critically to decide whether can it become your USP or not. If yes, you can set the tone of your branding and marketing communication around it. In short, it will allow you to put your best foot forward…and believe me, many companies have exhausted before giving their best shot, as they didn’t know which part of their organization was the strongest!

Track The Social Media Influence Of Your Advocates

I have said this countless times and I will say it once again: Any business activity that is intended to reach out to people or influence them has to be rooted in social media. The reason is not just its immense reach. What makes social media ultra-powerful is its ability to make your content viral within a blink of an eye. Thus, your advocates have to be on social media platforms to make a difference.

You must check which platform is giving you more traction, which content format has become much more viral, what sort of communication is resonating with people, and how many conversions actually resulted due to social media. Clearly, the advocate marketing data which you will get through this activity can help you in effectively shaping up your digital and social media marketing plan.

For example, if your analysis finds that videos or images posted by your advocates are garnering more engagement and responses, you can focus more on visual content. Or if Facebook is giving you more conversion, you can double your marketing efforts via putting more ads on Facebook. Certain advocate marketing solutions have built-in features that will help you discover where your advocates’ social media sweet spot is.

  • If you’re using a number of different social networks with your Social Login solution, you can see which ones are the most popular, and whether or not that changes on desktop vs. mobile. Get more insights about Social Login in our best practices white paper, “Unlocking Social Login.”
  • If you’re using Visual Commerce, you can use a ranking algorithm like SIRA to determine which types of photos get the most likes on your site or on Instagram, which posters have the most followers, which photos drive the most revenue, and more. Your advocate marketing data will then not only help you pinpoint who you should encourage to share more, but will also arrange your photos for you!
  • Sharing and Referrals solutions give you advocate marketing data that lets you easily see which methods of communication are most popular among your advocates, whether it’s email, various social platforms, or something else. Check out all of our Sharing and Referrals best practices in “The Step by Step Guide for a Powerful Referral Program!”
  • Trackable Buttons, which are usually coupled with Loyalty in order to incentivize sharing, track sharing via any channel you’d like, whether it’s Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or anything else. Then it’s easy to use this advocate marketing data to see which networks your shoppers are choosing.
social login distribution graph
This chart is just one example of the advocate marketing data you can get from your solutions. Here, the Annex Cloud Customer Success Team has gathered Social Login statistics from all of our clients to determine that a majority of their shoppers choose Facebook when logging in, which is followed in popularity by Google.

Turn Your Advocates Into Influencers

With each passing day, the role of influencers is becoming increasingly vital. Influencers have a sizable following on social media and people consider them to be experts in their respective industries. Unlike celebrities, they exude authenticity. It’s easy to pinpoint your biggest advocates and reward them for sharing, whether it’s with extra loyalty points, surprise and delight tactics, or extra love on social media.

Give it a thought. Your advocate loves your brand. He naturally understands your products well and thus can give rational arguments in their defense in the moment of crisis. So, he is fulfilling the logical precondition that is necessary to become your influencer. Now, the only thing that you have to check is how many people on social media really value his opinion. And that’s the professional precondition to be your influencer. If you see that he is bringing a lot of conversions, you can ask him to become an influencer.

Select the Right Communication Channel

There are plenty of ways through which your advocate marketing program communicates with your customers- email, social media, and push notifications are the most prominent ones. Your advocacy program can become a litmus test to know which way is giving you the best results. If you learn from your advocate marketing data that mobile messages are best for getting customers excited enough to purchase as per your advocate’s recommendation, they’re probably the right medium for other kinds of lifecycle marketing.

Of course, in the world which is characterized by omni and multi-channel communication, you must communicate with your customers through all possible touch points. But this analysis will give you numerical proof about the usability of a particular method and thus more reason to focus on it.

To Conclude… Advocate marketing data, whether it’s numerical or non-numerical, is enormously valuable in deciding whether you’re going in the right direction or not. It has a direct influence on the future success of the company. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you should gather it in whatever ways you can and implemented them whenever the opportunity arrives. Be it a referral program, loyalty or advocacy program, or rating and review platform, make sure that while executing these tactics you are taking notes of the granular data packages. Companies spend extra to get market insights. So, why not do it while executing your programs at no extra charge?

Note: Curious about merging advocate marketing tactics with customer loyalty? Our guide, “Advocate Loyalty: A Four-Point Strategy,” will tell you everything you need to know! 

I’m a Female Millennial and This Is How eCom Sites Need to Market to Me

person-woman-hotel-laptop

Hi! I’m Eliza Fisher, Annex Cloud’s Marketing Strategist and Editor. I live and breathe e-commerce, and I have tons of thoughts about how I, as a female millennial consumer and too-frequent online shopper, should be marketed to.

Why should you care? Well, there are about 80 million millennials in the US alone, and we’ll have $1.4 trillion in disposable income by 2020. Many millennials, myself included, have notably strong relationships with their families and consequently influence more purchases than just their own. Also, we’re young, so now’s the time to earn our loyalty. As for the woman component–all opinions are valuable, but women drive 70-80% of all purchasing decisions

Now, of course, marketing is a wide field with many disciplines, so today I’m going to focus on the still vast, but more specific, area of on-site marketing.

When I come to a retailer’s or manufacturer’s website, whether I’m looking for an alarm clock, running shoes, snacks, or a vintage handbag, I want to be convinced of a number of things. Namely, that…

  1. I have enough information to know that I’m going to really, really like what I buy.
  2. I’m getting a deal.
  3. I’m working with a reliable seller who sells quality products, ships things on-time, won’t stiff me on extra fees, and will provide useful customer support.

Now, how can you convince me that you’re fulfilling these three criteria? Let’s break it down.

Giving the Female Millennial Consumer the Ability to Know That She’ll Love What She’s Buying

When it comes to believing that I’ll like a purchase, knowledge is power. You and your team can give me some of that, but a significant piece is going to come from other consumers as well. Retailers and manufacturers should provide information like:

  • Product details: Many online sellers do this, but it’s worth stating. Tell me about dimensions, fabric composition, ingredients, special features, and so on.
  • Multiple photos from different angles
  • Product videos can frequently be helpful, especially if the color, consistency, or use of your product can be ambiguous

Once we get these standards out of the way, there’s a lot that other consumers can tell me. I’m a frequently online shopper due to the convenience, expanded selection, and better prices I usually find, but there are some things I miss out on by not checking out products in person. When sites provide user generated content from shoppers just like me, I get a much deeper understanding of what I’m getting. I’m not alone, either–84% of millennials say that on-site user generated content influences their purchase decisions. Here are three specific tactics to consider.

1. Product Ratings and Reviews:

Unless I’ve already purchased the product in question, I always seek out product reviews. While I notice the product’s star rating, I scan the reviews to see exactly what other shoppers’ comments are and whether or not they apply to me. For example, I’m not a very skilled cook. When I’m shopping for cookware or other kitchen products, reviews from expert chefs won’t be very relevant to me. Or, when I’m looking at skincare products, I’m not paying attention to reviews from consumers who are concerned about wrinkles, but I do want to hear from those who also have acne.

For example, I’m not a very skilled cook. When I’m shopping for cookware or other kitchen products, reviews from expert chefs won’t be very relevant to me. Or, when I’m looking at skincare products, I’m not paying attention to reviews from consumers who are concerned about wrinkles, but I do want to hear from those who also have acne.

Murad, a skincare line, lets reviewers select specific concerns of theirs.
Murad, a skincare line, lets reviewers select specific concerns of theirs.

You should add filters and sorting options so users can easily and quickly find what’s most relevant to them. Check out my tips regarding review formatting, design, and navigation here. I go into even more detail about designing the most effective product reviews for your site in this ebook, “The New Wave of User Generated Content: 7 Concepts for 2017 and Beyond.”

2. Questions and Answers: 

Question and answer interfaces also provide me with helpful information that’s often more targeted than that coming from product reviews. I can ask a specific question and get an answer from someone who’s already purchased the item or from a product expert.

Snowboards.com uses Q&A to provide extra information about their technical, expensive equipment.
Snowboards.com uses Q&A to provide extra information about their technical, expensive equipment.

Honestly, I prefer it when many other shoppers have already asked questions and had them answered. I’m impatient and I often don’t want to wait to hear back from someone else before I buy something. You should capitalize on my eagerness to purchase by providing all the information I want at my fingertips. That’s why expertly soliciting and incentivizing contributions to your questions and answers platform is so crucial–check out my post about it here!

3. Visual Commerce:

Visual commerce is a systematized way of using visual content, usually customer photos and videos, to market your products by automatically sourcing images and configuring them in flexible displays. I’m a huge fan of it for two reasons:

  • I feel that customer photos usually convey products’ appearances more accurately. After all, I’m not a model and I don’t have an immaculate, well-lit photo studio instead of an apartment.
  • Consumer images are also a source of inspiration. Whether you’re using visual commerce to sell groceries, clothing, home goods, cameras, or anything else, it’s vital to get your shoppers to think of your products in new contexts. Maybe I dislike the stock photo of that dress, but it looks really great on a customer, or maybe I never thought of roasting peaches before…the possibilities are endless!

 

francescas product page vc
Francesca’s uses visual commerce on their PDPs to give shoppers a fuller understanding of their clothing.

 

My team and I have written a whole lot about visual commerce and its business case, best practices, and use cases. Here are some links.

Between these three forms of user generated content and the information that you and your team provide, you should have no problem giving me all the tools I need in order to know if I’ll really enjoy your product. With that, let’s move on to the question of convincing me that I’m getting a deal.

Convincing the Female Millennial Consumer that She’s Getting a Deal

There are many pricing and discounting techniques that merchants of all kinds should consider using to drive conversion. Here are some that work on me.

1. The Contrast Effect

This simple principle means that “some perception (say, weight, brightness, or sweetness) will appear greater or lesser depending on a perception that came immediately before it.” In the world of pricing, it just means that deliberately mixing in more expensive items with less expensive ones will make the less pricey ones look like a much better deal.

Case-in-point: Williams-Sonoma was struggling to sell a $275 breadmaker. Their team then introduced a $429 breadmaker and placed it near the other one in their catalog. Sales of the cheaper appliance nearly doubled!

2. Use Referrals, and Make the Referral Discount Attractive:

When you use regular discounts as incentives for actions like signing up for your email list or referring a friend, make sure that they’re coherent.

Of course, it makes sense to incentivize these actions–particularly referrals. You automatically get at least one user’s email address when they make a referral, and at least one other consumer gets exposed to your brand. 77% of shoppers are more likely to buy when they learn about a product or company from a friend, and Annex Cloud just published a case study showing a 10:1 ROI and a 38% increase in orders thanks to Social Login and Sharing and Referrals.

When I decide to send a friend a referral, it’s a pretty big deal. I only do it when I’m positive that the business has something that my friend wants, or when the deal on my end is too good to pass up. Of course, I’ll weigh my potential referral discount against any other discounts going on.

Here’s an example of what an ineffective referral discount strategy looks like. Let’s say I’m looking for a new suitcase and I found something I like on eBags. I also know that Christmas is coming up and that my mom is interested in purchasing some luggage for someone else.

eBags offers me 20% off just for signing up for their email list. Pretty good, right?

ebags email discount

It is! If I’m looking at a $150 suitcase, 20% off saves me $30! Now, as I’m exploring my discount options, I come across their Refer a Friend page. It tells me that I can earn $10 in rewards points while sending 20% to my mother, who wants to buy some luggage too.

ebags raf

There are two big problems here. First of all, my referral discount is a third the size of my sign-up discount. Even if I were a returning customer who was no longer eligible for the sign-up bonus, the referral offer just doesn’t sound good in comparison, and I’m more likely to go to another site in search of a better deal.

Secondly, my mother will get the same discount whether she goes through me or uses the sign-up bonus. Let’s say I send her a text telling her about eBags and letting her know that I’ll be sending a referral code very soon. Then I get distracted by something else, while she goes on to the site for the first time. She might be too impatient or unmotivated by the non-difference in the discounts to wait for my referral link, and ends up purchasing using the email sign-up discount.

What’s the problem for you here? I’m less motivated to share again, and you haven’t properly tracked the source of my mother’s purchase. Check out our referral best practices ebook for more tips about referral incentives.

3. Reward My Loyal Behavior:

One of the things that eBags did correctly in the example above was to loop their refer a friend program in with their loyalty program.

On your end, loyalty programs should be used to make sure that I keep coming back and to turn me into an advocate by incentivizing referrals, review-writing, photo-sharing, and so on. The analog to these two ideas is that I want to feel like I’m getting a deal because I shop with you frequently and because I go out of my way to do things for you.

Luckily for both of us, when you reward me for advocating for your business, I accrue points more quickly. That means that get the sense that I’m racking up discounts and consequently treat myself more frequently, while you see customers return to buy more often.

Check out how Bebe rewards their loyal customers:

bebe loyalty rules

Annex Cloud has seen that when companies switch from a traditional, points for purchase model to a loyalty program integrated with advocate marketing actions, loyalty program revenue increases by at least 300%. Check out our ebook all about advocate loyalty for more details.

Convincing the Female Millennial Consumer that You’re a Reliable Seller

We’ve already touched on a few things that are marks of trustworthiness–namely, user generated content and referrals. If a site has good, but not suspiciously good, reviews for its products as well as helpful customer photos, I’ll know that other shoppers are satisfied. If I come to a site after being referred by a friend, it’s clear that someone I personally know trusts that site. How else can you establish reliability?

1. Fast, Free Delivery and Returns:

This should be painfully obvious. I’m impatient. I’ve been trained by Amazon Prime and other businesses to expect my orders to arrive in two days. When they’re even a day late, I sometimes get a little offended. What can marketers change on their website to soothe my concerns? Just meet the standards that other companies are setting.

I would prefer to pay a little bit more money, whether it’s a shipping subscription, it’s factored into the price of the item, or I buy another item to meet the minimum shipping threshold, rather than think that I have to pay extra for shipping. I have a Prime subscription and I pay for ASOS’s unlimited two-day delivery and free returns.

At the end of the day, I know that I’m somehow paying for delivery, but I want to think that I’m just paying for a product. When I look at the checkout screen and see an actual number amount next to the “shipping” section, it feels like an unnecessary charge. Conversely, when I’m checking out and see that shipping is free, I feel like I’m getting away with an exclusive deal.

The other side of free shipping consists of free returns. I want to know that you stand by your product and won’t make it hard for me to return it if it doesn’t suit my needs.

Amazon irked me recently when I used a gift receipt to return something my brother had bought me for my birthday. He and I both have Prime memberships, yet Amazon still knocked about $10 off of a potential $40 store credit for return processing. While free returns are nice across the board, this seemed like a pretty significant insult to two very loyal customers.

If you find that your margins just can’t handle free returns, consider doing what Modcloth does. They’ll deduct a processing cost from your refund unless you choose to return your purchase for store credit. In that case, the return will be free and they’ll give you an additional $5 store credit. I chose this option recently, and will almost assuredly now use my Modcloth store credit towards a larger purchase on their site due to my perception of this sunk cost.

 

Modcloth has flexible return options.
Modcloth has flexible return options.

2. Ever-Present Customer Service:

While I know that every company must make judgments about its resources, customer service is obviously a huge deal. How you enable communications between support and shoppers is equally crucial. True to my millennial stereotype, I hate picking up the phone. I vastly prefer digital text communication, ideally through chat. Here are two ways of illustrating what I want.

A few years ago, I purchased a pair of shoes from ASOS. The first time wearing them out of the house–on a casual stroll around my neighborhood–one of their straps broke. I tried to find a way to directly talk to customer support on their site but found myself in an endless maze of questions regarding the nature of my complaint. Of course, none of them applied. Frustrated, I took to Facebook and posted a photo and a short, snappy caption on ASOS’s page.

Unsurprisingly, I got a rapid response over Facebook Messenger, asking for my email and order number in order to start the refund or replacement process. The language of whomever was on the other end of the chat was casual and cheerful enough that, combined with the ease of the process, my annoyances were forgotten. So despite the fact that ASOS didn’t have the ideal tools for me to file a complaint, their speed and demeanor were enough to make me forgive them.

On the other hand, we have Salesforce’s Pardot. Admittedly, this is not an e-commerce site, but there’s still something to learn from them. If you sell anything that’s technically complex or pertains to a field of professionals or devoted hobbyists, your customer support requirements will be similar. Pardot is a marketing automation platform that does emails, drip campaigns, scoring, data capture, and more. Users spend a lot of time on Pardot’s site because the features are extensive and time-consuming.

Pardot has several resources when it comes to support: an FAQ of sorts, a live chat, user forums, “office hours,” and then the ability to file a ticket via email. All of these options combined should give users everything they need to master the software, but instead the resources are spread far too thin. The FAQ is far too rudimentary, the live chat is only available for about an hour out of my workday, the user forums are messy, the office hours are overcrowded, and the email tickets take too long. In essence, nothing is helpful and the site would definitely benefit from shedding some of its efforts in order to devote more attention to others. My picks–focus everything on live chat and spend a few hours every few weeks beefing up your basic FAQs. While it doesn’t take a lot of time to maintain a user forum, it looks terrible to refer a user to it. You’re supposed to be the expert.

The Female Millennial Consumer Concludes, For Now

While any list of marketing ideas is going to be incomplete, hopefully I’ve helped. Remember, you need to effectively…

  1. Give me the ability to know if I’ll like your product.
  2. Make me think that I’m getting a deal.
  3. Assure me that you’re a reliable seller.

Facebook’s Topic Data: What You Need to Know

Facebook’s Topic Data

In March, Facebook launched Topic Data, which is a new service that lets brands better understand topics Facebook users discuss, which brands and products they use, and which activities they follow. It will allow marketers to sift through large amounts of data, and Facebook users cannot opt out of it. All Facebook Topic data will … Read more

Amazon Dash Button: The Ultimate In Customer Loyalty

Customer Loyalty

About to run out of laundry detergent?

Press a button sitting on top of your washer and the button will automatically place an order for your favorite laundry detergent and have it shipped it to you right away.

Amazon’s release of their new Dash button whether intentional or not was perfectly timed. A day before April Fools Amazon released the Dash button, literally a small physical button customers can place in their home to press and order common household products you’re about to run out of. Some people thought it was a joke but Amazon confirmed that, in fact, it is very real.

Amazon already has a “one click buy” feature on it’s website, which essentially eliminates the traditional online checkout process. Some of us, (myself included) have only just gotten on board with the idea of ordering basic household goods like paper towels and laundry detergent from online retailers. And as a recent convert, I’m wondering why I didn’t do it sooner. All too often you make mental note that your running out of paper towels, laundry detergent etc, only to forget it the next time you’re at the store.

That’s the beauty of the Dash button. It gives customers a way to order coffee pods by literally pushing a button placed right next to your coffee machine, right at the moment they realize they are running low. The buttons are branded with the product they are ordering for you and are intended to be mounted on or placed close to the home appliance they correlate with, a red Tide button for your washing machine, a Keurig button for your coffee maker.

amazon-dash-button2 Coffee maker exampleAlthough I don’t relish the idea of my apartment being adorned with branded buttons, it’s hard to deny the convenience they could offer. And I think its important to note, the aesthetic downsides may become irrelevant pretty quickly as the next phase of excessively convenient shopping will incorporate our appliances themselves. Our washing machines will buy their own detergent and our refrigerators will order milk when its running low. 

amazon-dash-buttons various examples buggies, gillette, tide, bounty, GladAmazon’s Dash button is the ultimate in customer loyalty programs. Buy ordering a free Dash button your customers are pledging to always buy your brand and always from Amazon. It eliminates the possibility of losing your customers to discounts, out of stock items or attractive competitor packaging in the grocery store isles.

Is this a glimpse of what the Internet of Things movement going to mean for our daily lives? Regardless, Amazon’s Dash button is a brilliant innovative idea in the online shopping world and a new way of looking at customer loyalty. I wonder how it will perform in the market. I suspect that the entire senior citizen and accessibility-challenged population will quickly embrace it and so will the always-busy, no-time-to-drive-to-the-store professional. Will we eventually stop going to the stores for most of our purchases?

Effective Use of Social Media for eCommerce: Facebook Edition

facebook_1

By now it’s pretty obvious Social Media is a vital component of any retailer’s or brand’s marketing efforts and with Social Media management tools like Hootsuite, executing across multiple networks has become easier than ever. However, it’s easy to fall into a trap of treating all platforms the same, positing similar if not duplicate content … Read more

8 Essentials Your Ecommerce Site Should Have

Store front

With the start of 2015 a new shopping year begins for both consumers and online businesses and with it brings the opportunity to focus on fresh, innovative and engaging ideas. Retailers should review their websites and makes the changes necessary to stay relevant and compelling, because that’s what shoppers expect.

Here are 8 basic tips that you can implement to stay ahead of the ecommerce game.

Promotions

Online shoppers are savvy and always looking for the best deal. Promotions no matter the type are an instant eyes catcher – especially free shipping, since high shipping costs are one of the biggest turn-offs for online shoppers. By incentivizing your customers with promotions, you increase your conversion rate, leading to reduced cart abandonment and a boost in your average order value. To make them truly effective, promotions must be highly visible on your homepage and strategically placed on specific product pages.

Clear logo and branding

First impressions are everything and your logo and branding are no exception. Part of the challenge is capturing a first-time customer within the first few seconds of them entering your site. Your logo and site branding should be easily visible and a customer should be able to quickly identify if your online store sells the products they are interested in. Below are some examples of stores with great branding and logos.

Product reviews

Curating customer reviews and offering shoppers the opportunity, to share their experiences is vital in building your online reputation as a retailer. It proves you are dedicated to providing customers with outstanding value and ensuring you offer products to suit their needs and interests. Consumers are much more apt to purchase your products when they are supplemented with reviews.

Popular products

Do not make it challenging for your customers to find your best products, new products or exclusive sales. Online shoppers have short attention spans and if they have to hunt for something, they may just turn to your competitor. Whenever you have news, are planning an upcoming event, offering sales or have any other information customers care about, it is important that these things are displayed prominently on your home page. Furthermore, return customers are more interested in several new sale items rather than searching through your inventory for something new.

Mobile friendly

With leaps made every year in smartphone and tablet technologies more and more consumers are turning to their mobile devices to shop online. It’s convenient in the palm of their hands so to speak. It is now 2015 and a surprising number of online merchants that are still relying on old platforms and losing out on the added sales revenue from mobile shoppers. As the market share for mobile phones increases it is imperative to your stores future to stay up to date with these technologies.

Socialize it

Your customers know you best, and it is important to immerse yourself in the conversations they are having about you and your products. Being “social” is not just about asking someone to like your page, its about joining a community of people that have interacted with your brand. There are many tools out there that make it possible to leverage your customers as product experts, join discussion groups, promote certain products to a segment of customers and discuss it all via social media. Work to integrate your customers shopping experience into the social channels they use on a daily basis.

Product comparisons

No matter what kind of products you sell, you always need to give the customer the option to do their own comparison shopping. Consumers should have the option of creating side-by-side comparisons of the products features, specifications, benefits, and reviews. By making it easy for your customers to make comparisons you keep them engaged with your store, rather than losing them to your competitor. It is also a great way to up-sell them on related products or accessories.

Omni Channel

The Omni-Channel approach to business has changed the way ecommerce stores do business. The Omni-Channel model gives your customers real-time visibility into your online inventory levels as well as in store. It indicates how many units are available and what is the quickest way to obtain them. It provides alerts for items that are arriving in stock, in stock and out of stock. If your product is anywhere at all your customers will know how and where to make the purchase.
While there are many more things an ecommerce store can do to enhance the shopping experience these few items listed can help retailers start adapting to the high expectations of the online consumer. Some of these are quick fixes while others present a longer term project, but identifying solutions could help make a difference for your online success.

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Enhance your behavioral marketing strategy by adding social segmentation. A clear segmentation strategy is the key to developing successful targeted marketing strategies. In addition to running marketing campaigns based on buying behavior and demographics, utilize social data to deepen your segmentation strategy and add a social layer. The first step to creating a social segmentation … Read more

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