It’s hard to believe, but the holiday shopping season is upon us! I don’t know about you, but I’ve just begun making my gift list.
Speaking of shopping, as an independent contractor or small business owner, taking advantage of this time of year is most likely at the top of your priority list.
In the spirit of the season, our theme for this issue is, “Be in the green, not in the red with holiday sales.”
As we mentioned in our “Google Search Tips to Attract Holiday Shoppers” blog post, holiday sales represent around 20% of annual sales for most businesses. That’s a significant portion of revenue that direct sales consultants and business owners like you depend on to ensure the survival of your livelihoods.
In our winter issue of The Can-Do Quarterly, we’ve got loads of great info to share, with ways to reduce eCommerce cart abandonment and how to reduce online returns. And we’ve also included a special piece on why certain items become collectible and how to apply that idea to enhance your brand’s customer experience.
Thank you for reading our last newsletter for 2019. We’ll be back in 2020 with more articles, resources, and tips to help you and your business succeed.
I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday season!
How to Reduce Cart Abandonment
This Holiday Season
By Charlie Moss
Have you ever been shopping online, picked out an item or two, added them to your shopping cart, and then for some reason or another, decided not to buy them? But instead of deleting them from your cart, you leave the items in your shopping cart for days, weeks, or even months?
Maybe this was your way of reminding yourself to buy the items later. Perhaps you were going to make the purchase but then changed your mind, forgetting to delete the items from your cart. Or maybe you were multitasking and forgot to click the “Buy Now” button.
In the world of online shopping or eCommerce, as they say in the online retail industry, this is called cart abandonment. Though it’s a problem for online retailers year-round, it’s exceptionally high during the holiday season. According toBariliancecart abandonment increased to 81.93% on Black Friday in the U.S.
If you’re a business owner with an online store, you most likely have encountered this consumer behavior before. If this repeatedly happens on your site, it might be time to examine your cart abandonment rate.
Your cart abandonment rate is the percentage of potential online customers who leave without finishing their purchases versus the total number of shopping carts created.
You can calculate this by dividing the number of completed transactions by the number of total shopping carts then multiply the result by 100 for your rate.
As an example, say you have 300 completed purchases this month and 400 total shopping carts. Divide 300 by 400 to get 0.75. Then multiply 0.75 by 100 to get your abandonment rate. In this case, it’s 75%.
Let’s look at why your cart abandonment rate might be so high and how to reduce it.
1. Make sure you offer a smooth buying experience.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. When you’re shopping online, you want your shopping and buying experience to be as simple as possible. You don’t want to have to go through a multitude of steps just so you can make a purchase. Your customers don’t want to, either. Make sure your checkout process is as straightforward as possible. According toSEMrush25% of shoppers desert their carts due to overly-complicated navigation. Try to limit your checkout process to three steps:
Choose a product
Add to cart
Hitthe checkout button
When it’s time for your customers to fill in their personal information, make it shorter than a page. If your customers have to fill out pages of info to pay for an item, they’ll be more likely to leave your site without buying anything.
2. Offer more options Part of a smooth checkout experience is offering more than one choice when it’s time to pay. Give the customers the ability to pay as a guest, to login to their account via email or social media, and to have the ability to pay in multiple ways, including through Paypal or other online payment systems. If you do offer a guest checkout option, remember to set up your MailChimp account to receive the email addresses you require from guests so you can include them in push notifications, newsletters, and future emailing marketing.
3. Be upfront about fees
Nothing will make you lose customers faster than being dishonest about the overall cost of your products or services. This includes tacking on unexpected, last-minute shipping fees and other charges as they are checking out. To avoid this, be transparent about all costs associated with your products before your customers get to the checkout page. You can include a shipping calculator or additional fees on the product page to help drive trust between you and your customers.
4. Send a reminder
An excellent way to incentivize your shoppers who abandon their carts is to send a reminder email. This requires you to capture the user’s email before they go to the checkout page. There are a few ways you can do this:
Pop-up Offers - You can capture your user’s email with an opt-in offer for a discount, free shipping, or other introductory offers for first-time shoppers. Make sure customers see the pop-up at the very beginning of their shopping journey on your site and right before they leave it as well.
Newslettersign-up - Another way to capture users’ emails is to invite them to sign up for your newsletter through a pop-up ad as they browse your site.
Pre-submit tracking - Once users get to the checkout page, you can use this method, which is also called form abandonment tracking, to capture users’ data in real-time. This means you’ll get their email info as soon as they type their email address into the field, even without submitting the form. Make sure to put the email field at the top of the checkout form to increase the chance ofgetting that info before they abandon their cart and leave your site. You’ll need a tool like Google Tag Manager for this, which you can learn more about in this article. You can also use software such as AutomateWooamong other options.
A short, simple email letting them know theyhave items in their cart over the next 24 hours after they leave your online store is a great way to have your site visitors know they still have time to make their purchases.According to Moosend, people open more than 40% of cart abandonment reminder emails. If you don’t get the result you want from the first email, send another a day or so later, offering a discount if they hurry and buy now, and then provide them an expiration date. Here’s a great resource on how to word your reminder emails.
5. Encourage customer reviews
If you’ve shopped on Amazon, you’ve most likely read product reviews before making a purchase. Follow this lead when it comes to your products. Ask your current customers to write reviews for items they’vepurchased from you in the past. Nothing causes hesitancy more than buying from a website with no reviews.They can post reviews on their social media accounts, or you can create areas on your website for them to do so.Even if you have general reviews based on your customer service, this will still help build trust between you and new site visitors who aren’tfamiliar with your brand.
Collecting to Enhance Your Brand Experience: A Look at Why Certain Products Become Collectible
By Charlie Moss
In our last newsletter, we talked about nostalgia marketing and why it works so well with customers (if you didn’t receive our previous newsletter, you could read the article here).
While nostalgia plays a significant role in the way we buy products and latch onto brands, what makes them worth more than the memories we have invested in them? Why are certain items more collectible than others, and how can you apply these rules to your marketing and branding campaigns?
Hallmark owns your holiday memories Before we can dive into how this phenomenon works and how you can apply it to your own business, let’s take a look at arguably the most prominent player ever when it comes to collectibles, Hallmark.
For more than 100 years, Hallmark has permeated our holiday traditions with its vast array and ever-expanding stock of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas figurines, ornaments, and light-up villages. Some people find them cheesy. Others find them downright adorable. Whether you collect them yourself, or your parents and grandparents did when you were a child, we dare you to challenge us when we say you no doubt have some sentimental attachment to at least one Hallmark item from your lifetime.
There’s a good reason for that. Over its long history, not only has Hallmark seemed to have amassed the rights to every aspect of American mainstream pop culture we can think of, from cartoon characters to comic-book superheroes to literary icons, but the company has also embraced the ideas of what holiday traditions mean to us.
Tupperware goes from kitchen must-have to must-have collectible Another, perhaps lesser-known example of a product that’s become wildly collectible is Tupperware. While the kitchen-storage-container-company has expanded its products to include cooking preparation tools and toddler toys, it’s legendary for its food-storage containers. As a company that’s been around since 1946, you most likely remember those brightly-colored plastic bowls with lids and snack containers from your childhood. That’s because it’s a legacy brand that’s been imprinted in our collective consciousness due to its distinctive style and massive popularity over the years. And for collectors,vintage Tupperware containers have become big business.
Tupperware means home, comfort, and good food (or in some cases, questionable edibles if forgotten about in the fridge). The brand has gotten us through the Atomic Age, the hippie movement and Vietnam, Disco, the Reagan-era, and beyond. As a brand, it’s a simple concept with an enduring appeal made to make our lives more convenient. And despite it’s no-frills approach to the kitchen, we want tohold on to the memorieswe associate with the brand.
Why do we collect things?
Much like the idea of brand loyalty, where we only buy brands that we know and trust, we collect things—from bottle caps and seashells to Tupperware containers and Hallmark ornaments—because they make us feel good, hold some symbolic value, and for some, increase in financial value.
As we add to our collection, whatever it may be, we begin to feel as if it’s an extension of ourselves, a way to define who we are as people. Many teachers have embraced the starfish because it’s a symbol of hope and determination, and so, they collect starfish objects like pins and trinketsto remind them of why they started the profession. Other people collect sports or music memorabilia because these things are nostalgic and provide safe, feel-good memories from their first time at a sporting event or concert. These moments in our lives often help define who we become as adults.
Use the need to collect to enhance your brand experience
When it comes to your brand, it’s not so much about selling things that are collectible but more so about inviting customers to have repeat consumer experiences with you and your products. Just because you’re not selling collectible ornaments or figurines doesn’t mean you can’t give your customers the same feeling when they buy make-up, cookware, or clothing from you. Because we’re not just talking about collecting in a material sense, we’re talking about collecting in an emotional sense as well, like collecting memories and experiences. We want to make customers feel special, the way they feel when they add another object to their collection, that feeling of advancement or completion when they’ve amassed the full limited collection of a particular line of products.
Do you collect Delta Skymiles? How does it feel when you have enough points to trade them in for a free flight? Or how about your Membership Reward points from American Express? Earn enough, and you can trade them in for a free hotel room, trip or, dining experience? These points you collect go to experiences that create great memories. How about reward points from Starbucks or Barnes & Noble? You like getting that free coffee or that big discount on a book, right?
When we talk about collecting to enhance your brand experience we mean using reward programs to incentivize repeat customers and brand loyalty so that, in the end, your customers will have earned the feeling of completing their collection of products you just sold them to get the reward of getting something for free or deeply discounted. This then allows them to feel good about their purchases but also affords them the contentment of knowing they’ve completed their collection if you will.
But take that one step further. Hopefully, they’ll create some good memories using your products. We’ll refer you to our nostalgia marketing pieceone more time so you can potentially build a nostalgia campaign to build on existing memories if you’re selling a legacy product. Or, if you sell products from a newer brand, you might be motivated to get creative and market your products in such a way to inspire your customers to create new memories associated with your brand experience.
Some questions to ponder... As you think about how to use the idea of collectibles in your marketing and brand strategy, ask yourself these questions:
What’s your brand history or legacy, and how can you use it to inspire your customers to collect your products?
How can you incentivize your customers to keep shopping with you, and how can you reward them for repeatedly coming back?
To Reduce Holiday Gift Returns
Offer These Alternatives
By Charlie Moss
As profitable as the holiday shopping season may be for your business, inevitably, you’ll have to deal with holiday gift returns. It’s a natural part of retail that occurs all year long, and for business owners, it can be costly. But if you have an online store, the price can be even more substantial.
In 2018, the cost of providing shipping for eCommerce customer returns was $381 billion, according to Statista. Next year, this cost is expected to reach $550 billion.
It’s important to note that overall, customer returns have helped fuel the growth of the eCommerce industry because businesses have made this process free and a lot easier to do online buying than ever before.
Providing free shipping to customers is looked at as excellent customer service, but it’s an expense that individual small business owners sometimes find difficult to afford. While we don’t advise making your return process more difficult as a way to decrease this cost (this is no doubt a terrific way to drive traffic away from your online store and into the arms of your competitors), we do have some other options for you.
Offer exchanges over returns
Fifty-seven percent of online shoppers exchange or replace items rather than returning them for money, according to Narvar. That’s good news. So how can you maximize on this? By promoting exchanges over returns. You must offer returns, of course, but make exchanges more appealing to your audience by doing the following:
Offer free shipping on exchanges but charge for returns - While charging for return shipping isn’t always optimal, this gives your customers a choice if they want to return a gift but also incentivizes them to browse your site for a possible exchange.
Provide free shipping on returns over a certain amount - Another way to dissuade returns is to offer customers free shipping on returns over a certain price amount. This still gives them a choice but once again encourages them to browse your site for other alternatives.
Give discounts and coupons for exchanges - Offer your customers discounts on the items they choose when exchanging their gifts. Giving 15% off an item of their choosing or a BOGO coupon during their next visit to your website or store can steer your customers away from getting their money back and encourages repeat business.
Make your return policy more casual
As odd as this sounds, a way to reduce customer returns is to loosen your return policy. If you lengthen the time shoppers can return items to your store and make your return policy less restrictive, customers are more likely to procrastinate about returning items because they know they have more time. Short deadlines tend to motivate people to act quickly. Longer ones, not so much. They might even forget to return the item and begin using it.
Besides, a less stringent return policy shows your customers you trust them, and in return, they begin to trust you, which helps build solid relationships. It could even turn an occasional customer into a loyal, repeat customer.
Write clear, informative product descriptions
Another way to reduce the number of returns is to make sure all of your product descriptions are as detailed as possible so your customers can make the most informed decision when buying. If you sell clothing, add size charts, photos, and videos showing multiple angles on and off models, and close-up views of the color swatches. For other items, include measurements, materials, weight, and additional information relevant to buying decisions. The more they know, the less likely your shoppers will make the wrong purchase in the first place, reducing the need to return it.
Answer customer questions while they are shopping
While product descriptions are incredibly helpful, sometimes they aren’t able to offer all of the information a consumer needs to make the right purchase. By providing a way for users to ask questions while they shop, helps eliminate uncertainty in whether or not they should buy the product.
Typically, this is as simple as adding a FAQ page, or an “Ask a Question” button underneath the product description for users to submit their questions. Or you can add an automated pop-up window that encourages users to ask a question. You can either have a list of answers and responses already written that will generate when queries are submitted, or you can have the questions filtered to your email account, with the promise of answering within 24 hours. There are a number of add-on applications you can use to install this functionality on your site such as Answerbase and Bazaarvoice. Or if you haven’t built your online store site yet, you can use 3dcart, which has built-in Q&A functionality.
WHY YOU SHOULD USE PERSONALIZATION AND
SEGMENTATION IN YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
The holidays are here. That means it’s time to ramp up your marketing efforts to take advantage of this time of year.
Content creation is essential. But how you deliver that content ultimately will decide what kind you should create.
Two types of marketing strategies come into play here: Personalization and Segmentation. Though they may seem similar and often get confused by many marketers, personalization and segmentation are, in fact, very different.
Here is the difference between the two and why you should use both of them in your marketing efforts this holiday season.