Invisible shoppers may never darken the door of your business, but may spend a little – or even a lot – of time learning about your brand on your website, social networks, emails shared by friends and other digital means. Here are four ways to step up engagement efforts with prospects you can’t even see.
4 Ways to Turn Shoppers You Can’t Even See into Tangible Sales
Today’s buyers self-educate and make purchasing decisions before businesses even know they’re shopping. How can you engage with these invisible shoppers?
Once upon a time buyers had to show up in-store or call and engage face to face with salespeople, customer service staff and store associates in order to research products or comparison shop. Today’s buyers – be it a retail or B2B buyer – can now do most – if not all – their pre-purchase due diligence on their own, without ever setting foot in a store or speaking with a salesperson.
These invisible shoppers then make their buying decision and show up cash (check or credit card) in hand, having made up their mind, ready to buy. By the time the buyer has gone this far through the buying cycle, getting them to reconsider their decision will be difficult.
4 Keys to Engaging Invisible Shoppers Earlier in the Buying Cycle
1. Know Which Channels Can Bring Invisible Shoppers to Your Door
While a multi-channel approach is critical for branding and marketing, it’s also important for B2B sellers and retailers to identify the channels most likely to bring buyers to their websites or stores, focus on the most effective channels and continually refine their tactics.
When it comes to e-commerce, email and social are in the game, but search engines still dominate when it comes to lead generation and conversions, according to a Monetate’s Ecommerce Quarterly Holiday Roundup report.
A 2013 study by Custora reinforces this conclusion, reporting that organic leads the way when it comes to online customer acquisition, accounting for 15.81 percent of total customers acquired (up from 10.35 percent in 2009). Adding weight to the idea that the best approach is an integrated, multi-channel approach which finds ways to get invisible shoppers to subscribe, follow and otherwise follow a brand over time, it’s worth noting that the Custora study also found that )customer acquisition via email has quadrupled in the past four years.
2. Optimize for the Devices Invisible Shoppers Use to Research and Buy
PCs – laptops and desktops – are still far and away consumers’ go-to when it comes to both researching and purchasing products. In fact, only 1 in 10 online shoppers prefer mobile for making purchases (comScore.com, 3rd annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper® Study).
Retailers need to be aware that product research is often a multi-device experience, and optimize for search and site experience so that no matter where visible shoppers arrive, they can be engaged. The comScore study found that 40% of purchases are made crossing channels, whether that meant an in-store search with purchase online (or vice versa) or multi-device search and purchase shopper journey.
The reasons most often cited by online shoppers (who admittedly love their smartphones!) for doing purchase research and transaction via desktop and laptop instead of mobile devices include:
- 43% Can’t get clear or large enough product image
- 34% Product information can’t be easily viewed
- 31% Difficult to compare products
- 30% Concerned about providing credit card information over a mobile connection
3. Design a Site Experience Conducive to Discovery, Research and Proof
The key to turning invisible shoppers into tangible marketing results (sales, subscribers, referrers, etc.) lies in your ability to (a) get them onto your digital properties and then (b) intrigue them to want to know more when they have come to your website, social networks, email (perhaps forwarded from a friend) or even an online review of your business or products.
The mechanics of your digital properties matter. Are they easy to use? Can shoppers quickly find what they are looking for? Does your site intuitively offer accessories, upgrades or alternatives? Have you responded to positive and negative reviews to demonstrate that you’re present, engaged and concerned about your customers?
In the second annual LivePerson Connecting with Customers study, researchers took a close look at the trends shaping today’s online shopping experiences as well as asking consumers what they expect when shopping online. Here are the top 6 reasons cited by consumers as the reason they preferred one website over another:
4. Combat Defection: Eliminate Cart Abandonment Factors
It’s official, free or low-cost shipping options simply must be part of your online retailing plan. No matter how great your website experience is, when shipping costs are named in 5 of the 6 top reasons consumers cited for cart abandonment, it’s clear that e-retailers can’t afford to disregard consumer sentiment or fail to offer some kind of free or low-cost shipping alternative. (Source: UPS and comScore via marketingcharts.com)
Retailers and B2B sellers alike need to be aware of these invisible shoppers and engage them earlier in the buying cycle if they want to be able to influence their purchasing decisions.
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