Whether you have a small e-commerce site, an emerging mid-sized company, or an established legacy brand, here is a quick list of “Don’ts” (no Do’s here!) for avoiding some common pitfalls.
Don’t Neglect Customer Service
With online purchases on the rise, customer service is more important than ever. Make it easy for customers to get questions answered, speak to a representative, file a complaint, or articulate their approval and compliments (which happens just as often!). I know this is not the thing that we all look forward to, but you must be patient and strategic and realize that how you engage with one customer today will affect how ten others buy from you in the future. Any modern brand needs to be prepared to take returns, process a variety of payments, and offer refunds, yes, but beyond all that brands today need to view audience engagement as part of a strategic customer experience initiative and an extension of their brand strategy.
For more on this, read TopRight Partner Judi Friedman’s classic (and harrowing!) piece on customer service here.
Don’t Misalign Product Images and Descriptions
Especially to online shoppers, copy and creative matter. Online buyers cannot test your products, but must instead infer quality from the images and copy you offer them. In fact, your presentation alone—whether or not your products are the quality they need—communicates plenty about the kind of brand you really are. Second-rate presentation reads to online consumers as second-rate products. So be sure to offer more than one product shot with tight and compelling descriptions on a clean and strategic site that is attractive, compelling, and fully aligned with your brand story. That part is important! Looking pretty isn’t good enough, only by being strategic and aligned do you really speak to your audience in the a compelling way.
Don’t Complicate the Buying Process
The customer should be able to make their purchase quickly and with as few clicks as possible. The more clicks, the more opportunities they have to drop out. Make sure to offer a “check-out as a guest” option so that people who don’t wish to create an account don’t have to. If possible, keep your check-out process to one screen.
Don’t Neglect Search Capability
Search capability and SEO must be in your kit of strategic brand tricks. It’s critical that customers can search using just a few keywords and find your brand at the top of the first page. Customers who use on-site search to find a product are three times more likely to purchase. With this type of conversion rate, you don’t want to miss out on these customers because of a faulty search engine. Most website platforms offer a search engine plug-in, but make sure you’ve optimized your product descriptions with keywords as well.
Don’t Forget Social Media
Again, your social media, just like everything else about your brands, needs to be strategically aligned with your story. Sites like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram can act as catalogs of products, giving people the chance to share their favorite stuff with their own followers. It also gives you a chance to make announcements, show off, and engage. Twitter and Facebook are valuable promotion channels that allow people to spread the word about your brand, so be sure that you have sharing buttons available on all product pages. And think strategically! Is your audience young, hip and visual? Then go with TikTok and Insta. Are they a tad older and more responsive to text? Then Twitter and Facebook are your best bet.
Don’t Deal with Unreliable Partners
Who you choose to welcome into your inner business circle is all strategy. It’s never about friendship or mutual aid—it’s about business. Does this agency or brand complement or elevate your brand in some appreciable way? Then go ahead and partner. But apart from properly branding your services or the products with partners, you also need certain core services on which your very site is built to be totally reliable. Your website hosting service partner, for example, helps to assure that your site never goes down, even when it’s experiencing a huge traffic surge. If, over the holidays, your hosting service fails, all those potential customers will just take their business elsewhere while you wait helplessly for your website to get up and running again. But in the end, the error will not be their fault, it will be a strategic error on your part.
Don’t Be One of Those Nonresponsive Websites
We no longer live in a world of desktop computer users. Today, transactions take place on smartphones and laptops, making it imperative that you have a mobile-optimized or device-agnostic website. For most website platforms, this feature is automatically included. If your e-commerce site is older, however, then you might want to consider having it designed in HTML5 so that people can view your products seamlessly on whatever device they choose.
Don’t Confuse Site Visitors!
Few things discourage a customer more quickly than poor navigation. Hard-to-find information, a lack of buttons and too many font types and colors all lead to customer frustration and often no sales. Your e-commerce site should be easy to navigate and people should be able to click through images to the product page, see more information about a product, and click on the header at the top to take them back to the homepage. Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to site navigation, just use navigation best practices and be clean, clear, and aligned in all things.
Once you’ve avoided these unforced errors, it’s important to focus on nurturing customers and driving new leads. We’ve developed several guides to help you properly plan and execute your email and marketing automation project. Be sure to take a look at our Brand Health Check., so you can get an assessment of how your brand stacks up in a competitive marketplace.