It’s Time to Ditch the Batch Written by:
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Nothing annoys a customer quite as much as being made a fool of. Yet this is exactly what happens when one of your promotions backfires by getting out of step with their actions. That sick-to-the-core-feeling that every marketer gets the moment they know of the gaffe will only grow until the problem gets fixed.

Sending promotions to customers that have already bought betrays your brand. And the customer will let you, and the world, know just how they feel. It’s just happened to me, so with the benefit of an insider’s knowledge I’ll share how it happens, how it feels to be on the receiving end , and how to prevent it.

I recently purchased a pocket sized Satellite Navigation online at Halfords, a UK motor and bike retailer. Because I travel frequently, I wanted the convenience of having a slim line sat nav to guide me in my travels across the US and Europe.

Online price research found that it was cheaper  at Halfords, available online or for in-store pick up. Pleased with my money saving research, I reserved it online and collected it later the same day. A smooth demonstration of multi-channel retailing?

Not quite. While I’m completely delighted with my Garmin Nuvi (awesome product by the way), Halfords spoiled the experience by sending me a Spend and Save promotion equivalent to a 10% promotion on the sat nav I had just purchased.

This is an example of how to destroy customer trust by getting out of step with a customer. Offering a promotion specific to an item that they’ve just bought is guaranteed to annoy, prompt them to call to your call center, tweet negative things about your brand, and even write a blog about the poor customer experience.

I assumed that this was a browse abandon remarketing program gone wrong, where the trigger was me browsing the satellite navigation category without purchasing online. (…)

The End of Facebook Commerce? Written by:
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According to a recent Bloomberg article, GameStop, Gap Inc., J.C. Penney and Nordstrom have all closed their Facebook storefronts over the past year. This shouldn’t be a surprise. While Facebook may be the most visited website, with 845 million members, consumers go there to hang out, not shop. Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research, refers to this as “like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

For brand marketers, Facebook is a great place to engage directly with consumers, build relationships and drive traffic to their ecommerce sites. But Facebook as a shopping destination? With a few notable exceptions (inherently social businesses such as music, games and entertainment), it just doesn’t make sense to invest in a Facebook storefront. But using Facebook to drive traffic to your ecommerce site is a well proven and very effective method of driving high quality traffic to the site.

A year ago, we stuck our necks out and called the Facebook commerce baby “ugly.” Despite all the hype, we advised steering clear of Facebook storefronts and focusing on ecommerce social integration via plugins (Forget Selling on Facebook (for now) – Think Social Plugins). Since our original post last year, the picture has become more complex since many consumers now have a variety of devices for socializing, researching and shopping. This fascinating infographic from the Internet Advertising Bureau shows how different devices are used for different purposes during the day.

Note how desktops are considered more secure (68%) and great for storing important information (72%).  By comparison, the benefits of smartphones are ‘Keeping in touch on the move’ (95%) and ‘Socializing with others’ (78%).

While consumers will undoubtedly use a variety of devices, their preferred device for shopping is a desktop/laptop and an ecommerce site. (…)

How Online Buyer Behavior Has Changed in 2012 Written by:
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At the end of 2011 we observed some significant new buying behaviours that are set to continue in 2012, and will impact online and offline commerce. It’s a blend of online, mobile, social, multichannel, discount seeking and connected customer behavior. Sounds complicated.
To simplify things, we’ve developed three customer behaviour types (personas) which describe these new behaviours:

  • The Connected Customer
  • The Discount Seeker
  • The Social Butterfly

Each of these behavior types don’t describe a unique segment of customers, but more a behavioral trend. The point here is that many customers will exhibit one or more of these three behavioral characteristics. For example, Connected Customers and inherently social, and Discount Seekers often use multiple devices to research purchases, just as Connected Customers will.

These three behaviour types are useful because it allows us to think about the types of marketing tactics we should be deploying in 2012 to address the new buyer behavior.

To make things simple, I’ve made a short Prezi (as sort of dynamic infographic) which highlights each of the personas, their characteristics, and what ecommerce teams should be thinking about in relation to each group.

Introducing the Online Buyer of 2012


If you’d like to understand more about online buyer behaviour in 2012, then we recently recorded a Conversion Academy webcast which you may enjoy:

Let us know what you think about these three different types, and what you are seeing in your ecommerce world! Are there any other new behaviour types that you’ve spotted? (…)

Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate Set To Rise in 2012 Written by:
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In 2011, the shopping cart abandonment rate continued its rise, reaching a new all-time high of 72% by the end of the year. In this blog, I’ll try to answer why the shopping cart abandonment rate has risen, despite a focus on conversion optimization by many ecommerce sites. I’ll also explain why I predict that the shopping cart abandonment rate will continue to rise in 2012.

Everything is more exaggerated over the holiday period: Retailers offer a dazzling array of new products, coupled with equally dazzling promotions, while trying to manage the constant problem of out-of-stocks. And customers make an abnormal number of purchases in a very short period and abandon their shopping carts in droves as they search for the best deals.

The 2011 holiday season was no exception. It was a bumper year again for ecommerce, with more than $37 billion in online spending in November-December, up 15% from 2010, according to comScore. And more than half of all online orders over the period had free shipping. While the volume was up, the average order value was down, reflecting widespread promotional offers.

Studying the shopping cart abandonment rate reveals interesting patterns in the run up to the holiday season.

As in previous years, many customers anticipated promotional offers and deferred purchases, causing the abandonment rate to shoot up, averaging 85% in the weeks running up to Cyber Monday.

Compare this with the average for 2011 of 72%, up slightly over 2010. The highest abandonment day of 2011 was at 89.2% on November 23, the Wednesday before Black Friday.



Discount Seeking Behavior

An e-tailing group study conducted at the end of 2011 found that 47% of online buyers would only buy discounted products, except under exceptional circumstances. The same study shows that 73% of consumers rate unconditional free shipping as a critical feature when making an online purchase. (…)

Online Buyer Behavior 101 and the Many Paths to Conversion Written by:
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The theory goes that if you make it easy for visitors to follow a simple path to conversion, you’ll generate traffic and revenue.

And yes, this is correct.

But this “single track” view of conversion is overly simplistic.

In this column, let’s explore why, and how it’s important to consider all of your available conversion paths.

Why Customers Don’t Buy

Only 3 percent of visitors buy within one session on an e-commerce site. And once they get as far as the shopping cart, 71 percent will abandon. To understand why, Forrester Research asked 3,000 people why they abandon.

Source: Forrester Research, May 2010; “Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment”
Note: Respondents were able to give multiple answers

As it has been for years, the cost of shipping is still the number one reason why people abandon their online shopping carts. What’s interesting to note is that none of the top reasons have anything to do with the actual checkout process. They’re all behavioral and related to lack of readiness or willingness to pay the final purchase price.

So, making the checkout process easier for the first-time buyer is only part of the answer when addressing cart abandonment. In fact, many have learned that once changes are made, abandonment rates are still high.

Multiple Paths to Conversion

Visitors will make multiple visits to your site before finishing a sale. And on their journey, there are many different purchase paths they may follow.

After analyzing the online buying behavior of over 600,000 consumers across numerous e-commerce sites, I learned that surprisingly 75 percent of shopping cart abandoners would actually return to the site they abandoned within a 28-day period. This defies conventional wisdom: we polled online marketers and 81 percent believed that the majority of abandoners never return.

Additionally, these returning visitors are more likely to finish their purchase, as well as make future purchases. (…)