customer

On an average, consumers spend no more than 50 seconds on any single page on your website. To say that today’s consumer is distracted would be a major understatement. As a retailer, you still need to find a way to engage with the customer.

Generic advertising as an option is out the window. From a consumer standpoint, they only ever pay attention to about 17% of all the advertising they are exposed to, and at least half of that content is remembered for the negative impression it makes!

You don’t want to end up taking the chance to be in that 17%, and you certainly don’t want to make a negative impression. Today, targeted marketing is the norm, and you would do very well to follow it. Here are a few ways to engage your customers for a longer time period and also increase the chances of a repeat purchase.

  • Targeted Campaigns

Generic campaigns group people broadly into several categories and then promote products and services to them. Targeted campaigns observe a consumer’s search behavior and put out advertisements only when the consumer has already expressed the intent to buy.

marketing

As an example, Google for variations of ‘jewelry’, ‘precious stones’ and ‘diamond jewelry’. The next time you open Facebook or a Google search window, what ads do you see?

Targeted social media and search campaigns are a great way to attract those consumers who are already interested to buy a product you sell. Since they have already expressed the intent, all you need are good pictures, detailed product descriptions and a prominent advertisement that catches the eye, both on mobile devices and web browsers.

If you want to implement this for your business, the process is fairly simple. Facebook uses a platform called Facebook Exchange, or FBX, to show users relevant ads based on their browsing history.

So, if you sell electronic goods, and your potential customer happens to have spent some time on the Apple Inc. website, the site installs a cookie. Using Facebook Exchange, you identify this cookie (and therefore the buying intent) to show this customer ads about your products. Here’s a simple guide on how FBX works.

  • Awesome Buying Experience

Have you noticed how some sites are so easy to use, the customer is in and out with a purchase in no time?

There’s a reason why good user experience translates to better buying patterns. When consumers move through a site fast enough to avoid thinking about a purchase too much, the purchase is made. This is that much truer for sites that sell products that are easily available.

customer experience

Take the example of Amazon. As a marketplace, it sells everything under the Sun. Set its popularity and trustworthiness aside for a minute, and measure the amount of time it takes to go from the product page to check out.

Easy site design ensures that consumers have the option of buying just one product directly or adding products to a cart. Easy site design makes payment hassle-free and secure. In short, easy site design takes a consumer from the beginning to the end in no time at all. Minimal elements and a clean experience mean that consumers spend less time navigating and making decisions at each step.

If you find that your site has a very high bounce rate, it is time to reconsider the design aspects. Using heat map tools, you can identify which parts of your site get more attention. (Hint: It should be the products). You can add or remove elements from your site to make it more user-friendly.

  • A Good CRM System

Customer Relationship Management Systems are often limited to customer interactions alone, but there is so much more you can do with all that gathered data. Having a consumer’s details is as much depth as possible allows you to target them with individual product suggestions.

For example, if a customer has purchased bedroom and living room furniture from you, the next logical purchase could be a dining table. You can send that customer a mail with all of your dining table options. Even better, based on the size of the furniture previously purchased, you can estimate how many people there are in the family, and suggest specific dining tables that suit the need.

If you sell products that come with free maintenance, using the purchase date information, you can be proactive in asking for a date and time that is convenient to the customer. What’s more, you can also suggest additions to the product in the same email and offer to have it delivered by the maintenance personnel.

The whole point of a good CRM system is to give a customer convenience even after they finish the purchase transaction. It is the experience that people remember and not the product itself. By showing them that you care about them even beyond the purchase itself, you improve your chances of repeat sales significantly.

  • Customer Segmentation

Over time, you would have collected sufficient data about each of your customers and their buying patterns. Beyond the individual promotions you do, there are a few events that you can plan for well in advance. Birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and sale seasons are some of them.

customer segmentation

Based on their earlier buying behavior, you can group customers into segments, such as all customers who have anniversaries in May, or all customers who buy in bulk during the sale season.

Using this information, you should ideally send out emails to all in the first group in April, followed by a reminder in the first week of May, along with a curated list of products that make for good anniversary presents.

For people in the second group, you can send out promotional mailers about those products that they can expect to find at a discounted price, and ask them to create a wish list well in advance.

Both individual promotions and segmented promotions have their distinct advantages. Individual promotions improve brand recall and prompt people to trust you more. Segmented promotions allow you to make the most of your customer database and increase your chances of making a sale.

  • Timed Communication

Beyond the two kinds of promotions outlined above, you can also spend time to think about timing your communication such that the chances of making a sale are the highest.

We find this most often with online grocery stores. If a consumer has the habit of ordering products for their home in the first week of every month, they often find emails asking them to order certain products each month. Repeat purchases make up a large chunk of a sustainable business’s revenues and timed communication can greatly improve your chances of making a repeat sale.

Broadly, your aim here should be to estimate when a certain consumer would run out of a certain product and sent them a reminder a week or so in advance. This technique applies to cosmetics, hair and body care products, FMCG, home needs and fresh produce.

Remember, most approaches for individual and segmented marketing, as well as timed communication, depend on the consumer receiving your emails. A few things can go wrong here- a consumer may feel like you are spamming them with too many emails, or they may have simply given you the wrong email address. While little can be done in the second case, there is much to be done in the first.

From a consumer standpoint, no more than one email every fortnight is recommended. Ensure that each of the emails you send is concise, to the point and highlights its specific purpose.

  • Discounts That Make Sense

Several retailers know they need to offer discounts, but only a few put their heart in it. Let us consider a scenario where a customer’s first buying experience has been bad. They have been quite vocal about it and you are aware of that. However, you believe that this was a one-time issue and that you can do better. How do you get the customer to give you another chance?

Some retailers resort to bombarding them with emails and messages. Sure, it does improve brand recall- the next time they tell their friends about products they shouldn’t buy, they will recall this brand’s name without much difficulty.

Instead, if you can send out a personal apology email, and ask them to give you a second chance, along with a discount coupon for the inconvenience caused, they will most likely buy from you again. Indeed, if they have a better experience this time around, they may even forgive the first bad outing.

The obvious pitfall here is that some people may take advantage of the policy and complain even when there is no problem. As a retailer, you will need to look into each individual case and decide who is telling the truth and who is looking for a cheap discount.

  • Loyalty Programs

The idea behind a loyalty program is, as the name suggests, to get consumers to be loyal to you and to buy from you again. Most loyalty programs work by adding points to the customer’s account, which can then be redeemed on the next purchase.

loyalty program

Why, then, do so many loyalty programs feel so forced? It makes sense for retailers of fast moving goods to offer loyalty cards. The points are usually matched dollar for dollar and can be redeemed even on low-value purchases the next time around.  

However, a jewelry retailer, for example, cannot possibly offer a similar loyalty benefit. First, the same consumer doesn’t buy from a jeweler as often as they would from Target. Second, a jeweler cannot offer points to the same tune as an FMCG retailer. It is then time to think of loyalty programs differently. One offer you can make is to let consumers buy jewelry under an EMI scheme with a very nominal rate of interest. You can also offer programs such as investing in jewelry over a twelve month period, at the end of which you add in a single month’s installment amount to their lump sum.

Keep in mind the purpose of a loyalty program, which is to encourage customers to keep buying only from you, and then think of policies and programs that can help you achieve that objective.

What are your major pain points in getting consumers to engage with your brand? Tell us in the comments.
Still having trouble understanding your consumer’s mindset? This guide can help.

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