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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
E-commerce Strategies
By Sherry Ng, Lead Strategist, Lucid Fusion

If you run an e-commerce business, your company's strategic direction is most likely heavily relying on online marketing and advertising. However, just being present on the web doesn't always cut it and you may need to think outside the box to reach your potential customers. The following strategies will help you make your online presence more direct and effective, reach more consumers and, ultimately, improve your bottom-line:

Bring On the Good Deals

Consumers are always looking for promotions and incentives, but how can your business offer deals without breaking the bank? A good way is to leverage second-tier products as promotional pieces to encourage customers to make their purchases. Bottom line: offering a low-cost incentive to your consumers will achieve the same gratification as a giveaway while also keeping your customers coming back for seconds.

Mingle in Social Media

Recognizing how to manage and leverage customer loyalty on your social media platforms will not only increase your brand presence, but also reap tremendous benefits. Social media allows you to interact with your consumers on one of the most dynamic platforms available. Your most ardent fans, brand opponents and casual observers share this interesting space; your voice should not be missing from that group.

Your business should be creating consistently interesting and unique "insider" content for your Facebook and Twitter (amongst others) pages. Far too many brands just translate existing communications they sent through email, put in print or showed on TV, to social media. That's a mistake. People are on social networks for fun, for a break and to discover or share something remarkable. Meaning, they can't help but remark about it. Look to make your content engaging, amusing, or unexpectedly interesting. Make a game out of it or create a funny video. Regardless of your approach, your content will have the greatest reach if you give people a reason to share it.

Also, take a cue from Groupon and seize the opportunity to invite in new customers with an irresistible offer. Make the offer exclusive to people who agree to stay in touch by offering incentives to those who "like" you, "follow" you, or subscribe to your newsletter. This will not only boost your sales for a day, but it will also give you an opportunity to build your fan base, followers and email subscribers. By offering such an incentive you are planting the seeds for future sales and new fans of your brand.

Take advantage of the advertising opportunities social networks offer. Facebook ads, in particular, allow you to reach a highly targeted audience. Promoted tweets and YouTube videos are also great ways to help your deal stand out amongst the rest. Don't keep your deal a secret--get it out there.

You should also leverage these platforms for your customer service needs. Offering your customers the possibility to get in touch with you through the media sites they visit the most will prove your dedication to your clients and your desire to be available and communicate with them.

Finally, be sure to spoil your brand supporters and existing consumers regularly with an engaged and proactive presence online as it will serve to motivate those influencers to spread your positive brand image and promote your business amongst their social circles.

Beyond Borders

For some U.S. e-commerce businesses, international consumers may not make up the bulk of their core sales. However, they are increasingly providing substantive revenue. Consumer's perceptions of cross-barrier e-commerce have drastically improved in the last few years, and the millions of international consumers now represent power buyers in the U.S. markets. In fact, international orders are often not only high volume with high AOV, but also result in fewer returns.

To ensure that your business is ready for the global marketplace, review your technology and services platforms to guarantee that you don't run into any logistical challenges, especially during busy seasons. Ensure that the customer service team is prepared to address international shoppers for any issues regarding returns, shipping inquiries, payment options and potential custom surcharges.

Make It Mobile

Seventy-nine percent of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices, finding more product info to locating a retailer. To stay in front of your consumers make sure that your e-commerce store is mobile-friendly. Simplify the purchase process with a straightforward (and secure) checkout process.

Then, utilize that platform for exclusive mobile features such as check-ins, GPS localization, SMS offers, or mobile store promotions via emails. If you have some time, you can also create a mobile application, which will directly drive product interest and sales. Some suggestions are product recommendation applications, gift lists, mobile loyalty programs, and QR codes for promotions. Optimize a shopper's mobile experience and they will look to your store for impulsive mobile purchases moving forward.

About the Author:
Sherry Ng is a Lead Strategist for the LF Commerce division at Lucid Fusion, a digital agency located in Irvine, CA.

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