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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : December 20, 2013

SMBs: Top tips to improve customer engagement in 2014

The customer is king, isn't that the saying? The problem for many small businesses is that shoppers are engaging across so many platforms it can be easy to lose the brand message or core principles of customer service. One expert offers advice on how to improve customer service in 2014.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: Customer service has always been an important factor for small businesses. What can SMBs do in 2014 to better highlight their connection to consumers?

Kirsten Knipp, VP of Product Marketing & Brand, BigCommerce: SMBs are uniquely positioned to focus on personalization and helpfulness. Creating the surprise and delight that one used to get from a brick and mortar store can be done online today by personalizing the shopping experience in ways that big box e-tailers can't, such as:
• Use customer data and groups to deliver loyalty programs beyond just 'your birthday'. Use technology to beat the big guys at their own game - while segmented email campaigns are available to all - SMBs can use their knowledge within a specific niche or category to better personalize and promote a special product, contest or sale that speaks uniquely to their consumer.
• Package your product with helpful tips and content. Go beyond the basic insert and inspire and educate. For example, if you have a gardening site, don't just share a 10% off coupon this spring, send it with a list of the top 5 plants that thrive in your customers' geography.
• Engage with customers on social media in ways that make them feel special. Catch pictures of them wearing your cool gear on Instagram and celebrate with them when they use your product to do something clever (Amazon never cheers me on when I do something).
• SMBs should revisit or invest in abandoned shopping cart campaigns - now in the mainstream - to provide information, offers and encourage the next best action - ideally that purchase. Don't assume consumers didn't buy because of price alone - they may have an FAQ you need to answer to build confidence in your product - let abandoned cart emails deliver that helpful info for you.

Kristina: What can brands do now to help their first quarter revenue lines for 2014?

Kirsten: Beyond the basics of business logistics, it's important to take stock of how new trends and empowering technologies can improve online go-to-market and sales conversion. Headed into 2014, e-commerce businesses should audit or improve on:
• SEO: If your site isn't already optimized, this is a no brainer. If you think your site is optimized, consider spring cleaning and increasing content creation to build additional traffic and keep your site fresh.
• Social: The increasing use of social media in the research, discovery and pre-instant gratification points of purchase make it a crucial part of any online business' 2014 strategy. Knowing that Pinterest drives some of the highest order values, while Twitter and Facebook have impressive reach and conversion, SMBs should review their current efforts, define which channel has the best yield for their target audience and redouble efforts.
• Mobile Ease of Use: If you don't have a mobile or responsive site - get one. Mobile optimized shopping and checkout will have a massive impact on businesses in 2014.
• Promotions & Offers: Many businesses use a 'set it and forget it' approach when it comes to promotions and offers.
• Omni-Channel Options: Whether you are online only or have both bricks and clicks experiences, it is important to cater to a range of purchase possibilities. Get feedback from your users about what might make them buy more frequently or select you over another vendor. If easy returns are a top interest, consider how you can implement that with shipping partners. Alternatively, if you have a high end product that clients want to 'touch and feel' before buying but you don't have a retail location, evaluate if there is a scalable way to collaborate with a local dealer or partner with a complementary seller who DOES have a physical location - enabling your clients to get a sneak peek. Everything that increases confidence and convenience for your customer is a step in the right direction to increase conversion and sales.

More from Kirsten and BigCommerce Monday, including the importance of mobile for SMBs in 2014.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: 2014 ecommerce trends, BigCommerce, ecommerce, ecommerce tips, ecommerce trends

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  • Lovely interview and useful points!

    I do think that personalization of services via context-aware or location-based marketing definitely can help customers get what they want more conveniently and quickly.



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