The rush of shopping that typically begins just after everyone has had his or her fill of turkey and cranberry sauce has dramatically changed. Both online shopping and mobile devices are having an effect on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to eMarketer, 41 percent of online retail traffic on Cyber Monday was attributed to tablets and smartphones. That represents nearly a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Now that consumers are able to purchase practically anything they desire on whatever device they wish and wherever they happen to be, the e-commerce experience has changed dramatically. As a result, businesses need to ensure they are ready for those changes and are prepared to focus on customer engagement in order to drive long-term success.
No longer is e-commerce considered an additional feature. Today, it is viewed as a necessity for growing and remaining relevant in an ever-evolving and increasingly mobile-driven world. Businesses today must recognize that competition has grown and will continue to grow. Small businesses can get started online for less than $50 per month and have a professional online store launched in a single day even if the owner has no experience with programming or coding. With more competitors looming on the horizon and consumers benefitting from greater access via their mobile devices, businesses of all sizes must learn to separate themselves from the herd. The best way to do that is through customer engagement.
The key to succeeding in terms of customer engagement in a mobile world is creating a brand that memorable. The good news is that social media has not only made it easier to accomplish that goal but also makes it cost-effective to do so. Social media has rapidly developed into a tremendous equalizer. Furthermore, the number of social media sites offering the ability to make purchases directly from their platform is increasing. Internet Retailer recently reported that Tumblr has added a number of action buttons to posts, including a Buy button.
How important is social media when it comes to the consumer purchasing process? Business2Community reports that 63 percent of millennials state they actually stay updated on brands via social networks. Another 46 percent stated that they rely on social media when making online purchases.
Clearly, it has now become vital for brands to ensure they not only have a presence on the major social media networks but that they also work consistently toward engaging their customer base on those networks.
Among the most important ways that brands can focus on customer engagement is by remembering to continue the conversation not just at the end of the transaction but throughout the year. While the massive amount of data collected from selling online on numerous platforms can certainly create a challenge, moving forward, it is one that online merchants will need to handle effectively. Learning to translate that data into actionable information for driving future customer engagement could prove to be a significant asset. A study conducted by Moxie Software, Inc. found that consumers shopping online would spend more if brands engaged them proactively.
The best way to drive customer engagement, particularly across social networks is through a strong content strategy. Beyond simply providing product descriptions, it is important to deliver refreshing, informative share-worthy content. Enabling customers to contribute to the conversation through comments, product reviews, and ratings can also help drive customer engagement through giving customers a voice.
As more social media sites make the move toward e-commerce, customer engagement will become even more important. The time to harness that power is now.