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Building an E-Commerce Relationship in 3 Simple Steps

  |  August 11, 2011   |  Comments

Digital marketers who know exactly how to push consumers' buttons will maintain a long-term relationship with consumers and increase e-commerce growth.

ComScore reported this week that online retail spending in the U.S. is on the rise. According to its study for Q2 2011, e-commerce spending was up 14 percent from last year, topping out at $37.5 billion.

The growth, comScore says, can largely be attributed to an overall increase in the number of online shoppers; 70 percent of all online consumers made at least one Internet purchase during Q2, an increase of 16 percent over last year. One has to wonder, though, whether the way in which they're being marketed to played a role in the purchasing decisions. Digital marketers are a practiced and experienced lot, and while building and maintaining a long-term relationship with consumers takes hard work, those of us who succeed have much to show for it. The secret is to know exactly how to push consumers' buttons…in order to get them to click on yours.

Remind Them Why They Love You

As an online retailer, your best tactic is to put yourself in your target consumer's shoes (particularly if she's interested in buying yours). She either knows exactly what she wants or she's window-shopping; either way, her attitude can work in your favor if you employ a personalized retargeting campaign. Let her look. Give her some space - even if she leaves your site without making a buy. Then remind her how much she loved all that you had to offer. Retargeting can work wonders for marketers selling everything from impulse items like shoes to consideration purchases like cars and computer hardware, if the message is compelling. Sometimes, an image of "what could have been" is all it takes.

The idea is to get yourself (and your products) top of mind again and kickstart a relationship that never quite blossomed. But there's always the potential to annoy the object of your affection to the point where she's no longer all that into you. To avoid this potential pitfall, offer the customer an explanation for the retargeted display ad and the option to opt out (like Zappos.com does), and use a frequency cap to limit the number of exposures. Nothing turns a person off like somebody who's coming on too strong.

Never Forget to Call

Let's imagine a consumer has gone all the way…and made a purchase on your site. You know you want this relationship to last, but the eternal question of how soon to call on her and what to say when you do has your stomach in knots. One thing is certain, however: you must call.

In the online retail marketing world, that "call" often takes the form of an email. If the consumer opted in to your customer email list upon completing her purchase, you stand a good chance of converting her again. To do so, you must be delicate. Reach out to her with a message that's relevant and inspires her to take action - invite her, for example, to review her recent purchase online. If she spent some time with you but was too indecisive to act, send her an email reminding her of what she's leaving on the table (or in this case, in her shopping cart), or offer her a few additional images of what you have to offer - products similar to those she's already searched for, or that she's displayed an interest in. A gentle prompt might be all it takes to take your relationship to the next level.

Don't Pretend to Be Something You're Not

Lasting relationships are built on honesty and trust. A quick way to send them into a downward spiral is to put on pretenses and misrepresent yourself. In digital marketing terms, this means being open about the products you have to offer by revealing as much about them as you can. Make use of ad formats that allow you to showcase your best features, and don't sell yourself short; it's never too early to put your best foot forward and show her what makes you worth it.

Rotating product galleries can do wonders for an advertiser eager to display a variety of its goods in an effort to resonate with potential customers, as can more interactive ad units like clickable video. Both allow brands to skirt the difficult decision of which single product to display in a banner. Choose poorly and the consumer might get the wrong idea about you, putting an end to your relationship before it even starts. Invite her instead to get to know all sides of you and watch her interest spark.

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Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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