Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the eCommerce industry has fast-forwarded five years into the future and shows no signs of slowing down. The growth tactics that you use today won’t necessarily be effective tomorrow, as customer demands and buying patterns continue to change.
Gone are the days when a merchant can rely on a single growth source to attract new customers and remain profitable. Instead, you need to shake up your growth strategy, adapt and meet customers on the channels they use the most.
In this guest blog post by Dan Sheard, CEO of Shopify Plus partner agency, Velstar, you’ll learn the different ways you can diversify your growth engine to ensure your direct-to-consumer brand stands the test of time.
1. Branch-out to other paid channels
There’s no denying that the paid advertising space is highly competitive, particularly in a post cookie world. Merchants need to find new ways of reaching their customers and driving traffic to their stores, rather than always relying on Facebook and Google.
It’s time to branch out and experiment with other paid channels such as Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest and Bing if you’re not already. Of course, these platforms aren’t as comprehensive as Facebook and Google...yet, but they can be really effective and sometimes much cheaper in particular verticals.
Another paid channel merchants should consider is leveraging the kind of user-generated content (UGC) that is typically found on TikTok and Instagram through “Hashtag Paid”. This idea of “whitelisting ads” allows you to work with an influencer to create UGC ads, then run the ad through the influencers’ account, which allows you to get the authenticity of an influencer post and the reach of a paid ad.
If you need assistance strategizing how to utilize these different channels, get in touch with our team of paid experts. We’ll work as an extension of your team and help you choose the channels that will deliver the best results for your business.
2. Create valuable, free content
As well as paid advertising, merchants need to start prioritizing their organic traffic strategy too. This all comes down to content. When you focus on creating valuable, tailored, free content today, you’re building trust for years to come. In a world that’s becoming increasingly competitive, that’s something money just can’t buy.
To do this successfully, you’ll need to find out what your customers are searching for and what’s important to them. Then, you’ll be able to choose the distribution channels that suit your brand and customers the most.
An example of a brand that recognized the importance of great content and its long-term revenue potential is Remy Sleep. Every week, they send out ‘Sleep Weekly Wednesday’ emails that give customers sleep resources, tips for falling asleep and an overview of recent sleep studies. It perfectly positions Remy Sleep as the thought leader within their niche and gives customers a reason to keep engaging with the brand. The idea is that once a reader has absorbed all the sleep-related content they get from the newsletter, the next logical step is to try Remy’s weighted blanket.
3. Turn customer service into conversions
Exceptional customer service can be a significant sales driver. Why? Because it helps to ensure your customers’ needs are being met, it takes the stress out of purchasing, while humanizing your brand.
So, how exactly do you turn your customer service team into a sales machine?
Merchants need to commit to giving customers the best possible customer service and make it part of their brand DNA. To do this, we recommend implementing live chat on your store, particularly on the checkout page. Not only will it cut down response time, but it will also help you create genuine, trusting customer relationships, by replying to customer concerns and questions in real-time when they need you the most. Quick responses from live chat can also be the extra push a customer needs to make a purchase.
On the topic of response time, it’s best practice to automate your responses to commonly asked questions such as late delivery. This will improve the efficiency of your customer service reps and free up time for them to focus on more urgent, complicated enquiries. But don’t forget to make your responses personalized.
What’s more, you should centralize your customer service systems, including email, live chat, email and social media. Customers' shopping journeys aren’t linear, they zigzag from platform to platform, which means you need to keep track of all customers’ communications with your brand across these channels. One centralized system allows you to do exactly that, while giving you visibility of previous communication with a specific customer.
Finally, once a customer complaint/question has been resolved/answered by your service reps, it’s always a good idea to follow up with the customer afterwards. Ask them for feedback, ask them to write a review or update them on a promotional offer. This shows the customer how much you value them and helps cultivate a community of loyal fans.
But remember, all the above is meaningless if your customer service reps aren’t trained in the first place, so make sure they’re fully equipped to respond and manage customer enquiries from the get-go.
4. Explore B2B Channels
Last but not least, merchants might want to consider exploring B2B channels as another growth avenue for their business.
Historically, B2B commerce has proven an incredibly difficult channel of growth to tap into due to legacy technology, cumbersome purchasing processes, and slow-moving buyers. However, as the barriers to B2C commerce continue to diminish, B2B channels are being forced to evolve so that they don’t miss opportunities as more and more B2C brands innovate on legacy product categories. There are lots of technology partners out there that can help speed up the process of connecting you to B2B buyers, and ultimately stock your products in major retailer brands such as Walmart.
In an industry that is moving as fast as eCommerce, merchants need to evolve and stop over-relying on a single growth channel if they want to build a long-lasting brand. Even if you’re profitable on your paid acquisition channels today, there’s no excuse to not build a diverse growth engine that’s ready for the future.
If you want to chat further about any of the points raised in this article or help to implement a new growth strategy, reach out to them today!
Velstar doesn’t just make websites; they create exceptional digital experiences that consumers love.
Velstar is a full-service in-house Shopify Plus Partner agency, headquartered in the UK. Made up of 20+ eCommerce experts, they combine the most effective eCommerce design, development and growth strategies. From Platform Migration, User Experience and User Interface Design, to Digital Marketing, they have a proven track record when it comes to delivering outstanding eCommerce solutions and driving sales for their clients